How To Prepare Air Conditioner for the Summer
The last thing you will ever want to deal with is a faulty AC on hot scorching days. When the AC sits idle during the cold months, it can accumulate dust and debris. Such contaminants can build up, making the unit run sluggishly, so it might not cool your house adequately. Even worse, the AC can recirculate pollen and dirt particles to your home, lowering the indoor air quality.
The debris will strain the unit, and with time, it will break down, calling for emergency repairs. It’s, therefore, a good idea that you check your system for issues and fix them early enough. Here are various ways to prepare your AC for summer.
1. Clean or Replace the Air Filter
The air filter traps contaminants like pet dander, pollen, mold spores, and dust particles. These contaminants can build up on the filters limiting airflow. You, therefore, need to clean or change the air filters after every three months. If you live with a heavily shedding pet or reside in highly dusty areas, change the filters monthly.
Shut off the power to the AC, then find the air filter near the cold air return vent. For the reusable filter, start by vacuuming it to suck out dust and other debris. If your filter is water-friendly, put it in a mixture of equal quantity vinegar and water.
Soak it for an hour, then rinse it off with a hose at low pressure to avoid ripping it apart. Let it dry before fitting it back in place. If you have a replaceable air filter, get a similar one from your local store and slide it back to the designated slot.
2. Check the Refrigerant Level
A low refrigerant level will make your AC work harder and run longer. Your AC can also freeze up. One way to know that your AC needs a refrigerant refill is when it begins to blow in warm rather than cold air. Frost build-up is also an indication of low refrigerant level.
Hissing or bubbling noise from your outdoor unit is a sign of refrigerant leakage, and you need to call a professional immediately to fix it. If the refrigerant level is too low, you can refill it or seek professional help.
3. Inspect the Coolant Lines
Visually check the refrigerant lines. They should be adequately insulated with a foam coolant to promote the unit’s efficiency. If the insulation seems frayed, add new foam insulation sleeves or wrap the lines with foam insulation tape.
4. Clean the Air Conditioner Coils
If grime and dirt accumulate on the coils, it reduces your unit’s cooling efficiency. To clean the evaporator coils, start by ensuring that you disconnect the power to the system. Unscrew the fasteners to loosen the access panel and spray the no-rinse evaporator coil cleaner. You can use a soft-bristled brush to remove the stubborn stains. Once you turn on the AC, the condensate will clear off the foam.
To clean the condenser coils, unscrew the fasteners to remove the protective grille. Use a soft brush or a vacuum gently over the coils to remove larger debris. Connect a hose and spray the unit with water.
Spray the foam condenser coil cleaner in a back and forth motion until you completely cover the coils. Leave it to work on the debris for about ten minutes. Rinse the coils with a hose to remove the foam and any remaining dirt, then dry it with a clean cloth. If you accidentally bend the fins, you can straighten them with a fin comb and then reassemble the unit.
5. Check the Ductwork for Wear
Inspect the exposed part of the ductwork for leaks that can cause cooling inefficiency. Turn your AC on and feel around the duct connections for air leaks. Check the insulation around the ductwork for damage, damp spots, or even mold growth.
Other common signs of leaky ductwork include inconsistent temperature, musty odor, excess dust, short cycles, and rattling noises from the ductwork. Once you spot a leak, seal it with aluminum foil tape, mastic sealant, or duct tape. If the gap is extensive, consult your HVAC technician, and they will advise you on the best cause of action.
6. Inspect the Outdoor Unit
Go around your outdoor unit, clearing off any leaves, plants, or tall glass that can affect your AC’s performance. Any debris located close to your AC can impede airflow, which reduces your unit’s efficiency. Throughout summer, you will need to check and clear the debris at least once a month.
7. Check the Thermostat
Set the thermostat to cooling mode and test it to ensure that it’s working correctly. If the AC fails to turn on, the thermostat’s battery could be dead. Replace the battery, then try once again. If it still fails to start, call a professional to check your unit.
It’s also a great idea that you install a programmable thermostat to save on energy. You can set it to cool certain rooms in your house at specific times based on daily occupancy patterns. This way, you will avoid cooling your home when everybody is out.
8. Plan for Professional AC Maintenance
You should also arrange for professional AC maintenance services before summer. The technician will check the air filter and change it when necessary. They will also validate the unit’s installation quality, gauge the airflow, survey the safety controls and ensure correct system operation.
During tune-ups, the professional will inspect the condensate drain, examine the blower motor components, lubricate the moving parts, and secure all the electric connections. Preventive maintenance reduces the risk of on-season breakdown, maintains your warranty, and extends your unit’s lifespan.
9. Test the Unit
After cleaning and maintaining your AC, you should test it to see if it’s working as expected. Restore the power and set the thermostat to cool. Pay attention to any strange noises from your system. Move from room to room to see if they are adequately cooled.
Determine the location of the return and supply ducts. You can do this by placing paper over the ducts. The supply duct should blow the paper away while the return duct sucks it in. Let your AC run for about ten minutes, then measure the temperature of both the supply and the return duct. You should note at least a 20 degrees difference on a properly running AC. If the temperature difference is below this limit, call a professional to diagnose any underlying problem.
Do You Need Professional AC Services?
You can make simple adjustments to your AC to prepare it for summer, as outlined above. Remember that when neglected, your AC may draw too much energy leading to higher utility bills. It can also break down in the least expected times. When you have a professional inspect your unit, they can spot any minor issues and fix them before they escalate into a significant problem.
If you wish to hire an AC pro to inspect your unit before summer, reach out to Air Max HVAC, Inc. We deal with AC and furnace installation, replacement, repair, and maintenance services. Our company also provides indoor air quality and home energy audit services across Burbank, CA, and the surrounding regions. Call us today to schedule an appointment.Tags: AC Summer Preparation