When you’re at home, you want to breathe easy. Whether you’ve had a rough day at work, or are coming back to the house after a long trip, you want to be able to settle down and relax in your favorite chair and let the comfortable environment dissolve the stress of the day. When your home HVAC system works at optimal levels, you can achieve perfect harmony with your mind and being and let the clean air through your lungs. If you feel your AC isn’t working up to par, though, you may want to try a few things before you call in a repairman. Simple maintenance of your air conditioning can help it work a long time.

The most obvious task of self-maintenance, of course, is to make sure you regularly change your air filters. Filters collect dust and debris that circulates in your home and help keep the air clean. Over time, though, filters lose their effectiveness as they become clogged. Many experts will suggest you change out the filters monthly, but as you are the best judge of your home activity, you should at least check the filters monthly and replace when applicable.

If allergies are an issue at home, you can also shop around for filters of different grades. In the HVAC industry, filters are scaled according to the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV. Filters are given a MERV rating of anywhere between one (for the most basic residential model) to sixteen (for the greatest possible filtering work). High MERV filters are typically found in sterile environments like hospitals, but for a home the highest rating is usually five.

You should also take some time to check your air conditioning unit for leaks. Check the ductwork, and if you suspect leaks are causing your AC not to perform to the highest standard, have the ducts sealed better. This should help the air flow properly.

These simple measures will not only keep your air clean and circulated well throughout your home, but when the HVAC works well you may save some money on your energy bills. When an air conditioner is plagued by leaks and bad filtering, you may get the impression the unit isn’t turned on, and you’ll crank it higher. This, in turn, forces your unit to work harder, and you spend more money making that happen!

Before you call the serviceman to come, do an inspection yourself. You may be surprised to see a simple fix is all you need for clean air.