How relieved are you that summer’s finally on its way? Sometimes it seems that winter will never end. It’ll be an eternity of boots, heavy jackets, and inclement weather.
Now that winter is over and spring is in full swing, it’s time to start preparing for the coming hot weather. That doesn’t just mean shorts and sandals. It won’t be long until air conditioners will be running constantly, fighting the rising mercury.
Before you get that first blast of icy cold AC, it’s important to make sure that you’re air conditioner is serviced. It’s better to discover and repair any potential issues while the temperatures are still moderate.
Keep reading for 9 AC maintenance tips.
1. Clean the Unit
It’s not uncommon for debris to find its way into an air conditioner over the fall. Leaves and small branches can end up creating major problems if left alone. Even dirt, dust, and grime can affect the efficiency of your unit, robbing you of needed relief.
Start by cleaning off the outside of the unit. It’s always wise to disconnect the power source before working on any electrical device. If at any point you feel uncomfortable handling the unit, contact a professional to service it for you.
Keeping plant growth back from where the air conditioner sits will help limit its exposure to debris. Try and keep a 2-3 foot distance between the unit and any foliage.
2. Replace Your Filters
It’s amazing how much of an impact clean filters can have on the efficiency of your HVAC system. Replacing your filters regularly helps make sure that the cold air reaches the vents, instead of cooling off the collected debris, dust, and hair.
Filters should be replaced every 1-2 months. Not only do you benefit from better circulation throughout the house, but you also avoid the potential for damage from a blocked filter. A clogged filter means your air conditioner has to work even harder, increasing its strain.
3. Comb the Fins
In order to cool down the air, your AC needs to generate some serious heat. The evaporator and condenser coils inside the unit require a constant airflow to work properly. Any obstructions can have a great impact on how well the air conditioner works.
Aluminum coils surround these components, allowing air to pass through freely. A vacuum cleaner can quickly remove dirt and grime. You may need to remove a metal case around the AC to access the fins.
Over time, though, they can bend, interfering with the airflow. A fin comb allows you to easily return these fins back to their proper shape.
4. Check Drains for Clogs
Condensation is a byproduct of the air conditioner producing cold air. Drain hoses are used to clear the water safely away from the house. Dirt and debris can find its way into drain hoses, blocking them.
Check these drains from time to time to make sure that there isn’t a clog or blockage. Bacteria can grow from the moisture around the blockage, creating a health hazard. A strong wire should be enough to make sure that the hoses are clear.
5. Check the AC Pad
Since central air conditioner units, it’s common for them to be installed on top of concrete pads to keep them level. Over time, these pads can settle and even sink in one direction.
If the pad has sunk, but the unit is still dry and level and there’s no strain on the tubes and electrical cables, it’s okay. Otherwise, you’ll need to address the issue before it damages the unit.
6. Inspect the Insulation
Check where the AC lines enter the house. Rotten or damaged insulation can allow cold air to escape, forcing the unit to work harder.
Adding foam wrap around the feed lines if they pass through an unfinished basement or garage helps increase the efficiency of the unit. It’s a simple solution to energy loss and is a very cost-effective way to make sure that the cold air gets where it’s going.
7. Consider an Energy Audit
It’s one thing to cool down a hot home. It’s another to keep it that way. An energy audit will reveal any areas that are leaking cold air in the summer and warm air in the winter.
Energy efficient windows and upgraded insulation are just a couple of the upgrades that could help keep your house the ideal temperature. This approach might come with upfront costs, but it will pay itself off quickly.
8. Get a Cover
Prevention is always preferable to repair. Taking precautions can reduce the amount of cleaning your AC requires.
Covering your air conditioner in the fall is a great way to keep the system clean. A sheet of plywood weighted with bricks is a perfect way to keep debris out.
Tarps and wraps are available but aren’t recommended. First, they can trap moisture inside the unit, causing metal components to rust. Secondly, they can end up providing a sheltered home for rodents. This can lead to chewed wires and hoses, to say nothing of the surprise when you remove the cover in the spring.
9. Get Professional Service
If this all seems overwhelming, you can always bring in a professional to service the air conditioner for you. It saves you the effort while offering peace of mind that everything is in good working condition.
A technician will not only ensure that your unit is functioning properly, but can also make assessments and recommendations to prevent future issues. This can save you from some costly repairs down the road.
Final Thoughts on AC Maintenance
Air conditioners are robust machines, able to withstand exposure to extreme weather conditions and still work. As long as proper AC maintenance is done, your unit will continue to keep your room cool for years to come.
For more information on maintaining your HVAC system, visit our blog.