When it comes to home ownership, expenses can add up quickly! There’s landscaping, repairs and all sorts of general maintenance. But one of the costliest and most frustrating expenses has to be repairing or replacing air conditioning units. In fact, one AC unit can cost as much as $6,000 to replace! And although that’s a seriously steep price tag, most of us would agree that it would be difficult to get by without them. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways that you can help to extend the life of your air conditioners and perhaps even get more than the average 10-15 years out of them.

1. Keep the outside clean

Next time you pull out that garden hose to water your flowers or clean off your deck, go ahead and haul it over to your AC units, as well. During the course of the year, dirt, leaves and other debris can build up on the outside of the unit, causing restricted airflow. Not only does this make your AC unit have to work much harder, but it also makes it much less efficient. To avoid overworking your unit, it’s important to give it a routine cleaning. To clean it, you’ll need to start by turning off the power to the unit. Next, remove any leaves, branches or sticks that are caught in the fins. Finally, spray the unit gently with a garden hose or wipe it down with a damp cloth.

2. Keep vents clear

One of the easiest ways to cause damage to your air conditioner is by making it do more work than it needs to. And just as leaves and branches can cause this on the outside of your home, furniture, curtains and other items can cause this on the inside! People often place furniture and other items according to aesthetic only, but be sure to keep the areas around the vents clear; otherwise your AC will end up working overtime, resulting in a shorter lifespan—and a bigger electricity bill!

3. Trim your bushes

I think it’s safe to say that no one likes doing yard work—I know that I don’t! Unfortunately, keeping the bushes, trees and shrubs around your AC unit trimmed is a must and may save you some big bucks in the long run. It turns out that those bushes around your units can actually smother the life right out of them! Bushes and plants that grow too close to the units are another culprit of reduced airflow, and a reduced airflow can, in turn, cause decreased efficiency, damage to the unit and even shorten it’s lifespan. Although you’d rather be relaxing on the couch, couponing or well, doing just about anything else, it may be time to get out there and trim those bushes!

4. Keep the dog away

Most of us with pets let our dogs go outside to do their business but never really think about where they’re doing it. However, if Spot heads straight to your AC unit to do his deed, you may soon be in for a not-so-nice surprise. Dog urine can actually cause corrosion on the refrigerant coils located in air conditioning units, which can cause them to leak and not function properly. And those coils aren’t cheap! In fact, with labor and installation, you could be looking at as much as $600 to replace a coil! Instead of risking such pricey repairs, consider a small fence that could easily be placed around the unit.

5. Change your filters regularly

I have to admit, I’m terrible at remembering to change the air filters in my house. Usually, by the time that I do remember they’re covered with an inch of thick black grime! Unfortunately, if you let your filters get to this point, you’re actually putting your air conditioner at risk. Although it’s the filter’s job to catch airborne dirt and dust, they can really only handle so much. Once those filters start to become bogged down, the unit has to work much harder to keep up, which can cause it to stop working properly. To make those units last as long as possible, professionals recommend that you change your filters every 90 days or every 60 days for pet owners.

5 Simple Tips to Make Your AC Units Last Longer