Preventative maintenance tips for your heating, vacuum and air conditioning system include keeping the area surrounding the outside unit clean and free of debris, checking the filter and changing it at least once every three months, and pouring a cup of bleach diluted with water into the condensate pan to clear the drain of any algae. Have the unit serviced annually to maintain its efficiency.
Leaves, grass and weeds around the outside unit prevent airflow. During the summer, this debris can reduce efficiency and make the air conditioner work harder to maintain the temperatures inside. With a heat pump, a blocked outside unit also affects heating efficiency. Keep leaves raked away from the unit, and trim any grass or weeds that grow within 2 feet of it.
Change the standard filter on the HVAC unit to a high efficiency one if you have not already done so. The filter protects the unit from dust and cleans the air you breathe. Pleated filters increase the surface area for greater air flow while providing better protection than fiber filters. Check the unit's filter monthly for dust buildup, and change it when it's dirty or after three months.
During the summer, the air conditioning coils condense moisture from the air. It drips to a pan and drains through a small pipe. The constantly wet environment allows algae growth, which can block the line and cause the pan to overflow. Pouring a bleach-and-water solution in the pan helps control this problem.