The last thing that you will ever want to experience is having a faulty air conditioner when the summer temperature rises. When your unit sits idle for a long time, it can collect dirt and debris, and the electric connections can also loosen up. This causes the AC to work less efficiently, and it might struggle to maintain comfortable temperatures.
If you continue using the unit in such conditions, it’s more likely to break down. You might end up needing emergency repairs during peak season, or you may have to replace the unit sooner than expected. It’s, therefore, a good idea that you inspect your AC to ensure that it runs optimally. Here are some of the maintenance tasks that you can do to prepare your AC for summer.
1. Clean or Change the Air Filters
The air filter’s primary purpose is to trap dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, and other contaminants from your indoor air. When neglected, these dirt particles can accumulate and restrict airflow. Your AC will thus need to work extra hard to cool your house, which results in high utility bills. You should replace your filter every three months, but if you have a heavy shedding pet or live in a dusty area, change or clean it monthly.
First, turn off your AC and look for the air filters along the return duct. Unscrew the fasteners and slide out the filter. If it’s washable, start by vacuuming it to suck out any loose dirt. Next, mix equal portions of vinegar and water into a bowl and soak your air filter for an hour. You can also use a small amount of liquid dish soap and water.
Hose the filter down to remove any remaining dirt and soap particles. Let it dry and fit the filter back in. If you have a replaceable filter, discard the old one and replace it. Some AC models have an automatic air filter cleaning function, and you only need to set it to clean regularly.
2. Test the Thermostat
Check whether the thermostat is set to the ‘cool’ position, and then, turn it on to see how the AC responds. You should also remove old batteries and replace them with new ones. Unscrew the thermostat cover and observe the condition of the wires. If they seem damaged, you need to call a professional to fix them.
You should also upgrade to a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one. It adjusts your house temperature according to the programmed settings at different times of the day. This will help prevent running your AC while there is no one in the house. Alternatively, you can opt for a smart thermostat that you can control through your mobile device. It enables you to turn off the AC once you leave the house and set it to cool just before you get back home.
3. Clean the AC’s Coils
The air blowing over the evaporator coils may contain dirt particles. Since the coils are usually damp from the dehumidification process, such particles can easily stick. This results in decreased cooling capacity, ice buildup, increased energy consumption, and wear. You should therefore clean the coils before the beginning of the cooling season.
Turn the AC off, unscrew the fasteners to loosen the access panel, and remove it. You can use a brush to clear off loose dirt particles. Next, spray the no-rinse evaporator coil cleaner and allow the foaming action to occur. Once you turn on the AC, the condensate will wash away the cleaner and the dirt.
Remember also to clean the condenser coil. It’s part of the outdoor unit, so it’s more susceptible to dirt and grime. Take off the removable panel and start by checking the coils for large debris like leaves and sticks. Pick them out by hand, and then, use a brush to dust off the oils. Use a fine comb to straighten the bent fins. Next, rinse the coils with a hose, spray the foaming coil cleaner, rinse the coils off with a hose using a back-and-forth motion, and then leave the coils to dry.
4. Check the Condensate System
Once the AC draws moisture from the indoor air, it condenses and flows to the drain pan. Sometimes, the condensate line can clog, and the water may begin to back up, which can cause some mechanical problems in your unit. Ensure that you inspect the drain lines, and if the water doesn’t flow out smoothly, use a stiff brush to clean inside the pipe and dislodge the clog. You can also pour a cup of vinegar inside the drain line to prevent mold and algae growth that can cause blockages. Inspect the drain line for any cracks or damage that can leak, and remember to clean the drain pan.
5. Inspect the Ductwork
Ensure that you check the ductwork before summer for possible leaks or debris. Loose connections, damaged duct sections, and gaps allow the conditioned air to seep out, so you might end up running your AC longer to make up for the loss.
Turn on the AC and move along the ductwork to test for any air leaks. If you see dust particles blowing off from the vents, you could be having leaky ductwork. Also, watch out for mold and rodent droppings. The solution for dirty ducts is to seek professional cleaning services.
If you spot leaks from the duct system, use aluminum foil tape or mastic sealant to fix the leak. You should also insulate ductwork that runs through uncooled areas of your house, like the basement or attic.
6. Free the Outdoor Unit from Obstructions
Before you start using your AC during the summer, clean around the outdoor unit. When you leave your unit unused for some time, leaves, sticks, and grass can accumulate over it and inhibit airflow, which can affect your AC’s performance. Cut the grass and uproot any plants growing next to your unit. You will have to keep clearing the outdoor unit throughout summer.
7. Test the AC
Once you are done cleaning the AC, turn it on. Let it run for about 15 minutes to see how it works. Pay attention to unusual sounds and smells, and call a professional to check and fix the issue. Test how well the AC cools all the rooms in your house.
Arrange for Professional AC Maintenance Before Summer
The best way to ensure optimum performance of your AC during the summer season is by scheduling regular professional service. Our technicians will check the electric connections of your AC to ensure its safe operation. They will also inspect the refrigerant level and recharge it when necessary. They will lubricate all the moving parts and check the compressor. Don’t wait until the onset of the hot season to call in a technician. At such times, the professionals are usually busy with emergency calls, and you might end up suffering unnecessary discomfort.
If you need professional assistance with your AC, don’t hesitate to contact Green Energy Mechanical Inc. Our company provides AC and furnace installation, repair, and maintenance services. We also offer duct cleaning, a programmable thermostat, water heaters, and commercial HVAC services in Canton, MA, and the surrounding areas. Give us a call today to book an appointment.