Thursday May 24th, 2018
10 Easy but Critical Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips
Not only does a bit of air conditioning maintenance lower the chances of your AC unit breaking down unexpectedly during a summer heatwave, but it can also extend the life of your unit and reduce your power bill by maximizing efficiency.
If you’re not sure where to get started, simply follow the ten easy-breezy air conditioning maintenance tips listed below.
10 Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips to Try This Spring
For your own safety, remember to turn the unit off before you tackle any of these maintenance tips. There should be an exterior shut-off box located near the unit itself and you should also switch off the breaker that sends power to the unit. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to get started with these ten easy but essential AC care tips!
1. Clear Away Obstructions
Look for any debris, plants, or objects near your outdoor condensing unit that could potentially block airflow. If the condenser is unable to draw enough air into the system, there won’t be any conditioned air to circulate and cool down your home. So, remove any objects and trim back any tall grass, leaves, or weeds that might obstruct the unit.
2. Remove Debris from Inside the Unit
Debris and dirt can also collect inside the unit, decreasing efficiency and costing you more money. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much effort to clean it out and rinse it off at the start of the season.
After double checking that the power is off, unscrew and remove the fan cage from the outdoor condenser so you can access the interior. Put on a pair of garden gloves or use a vacuum to remove any leaves stuck inside the unit.
3. Gently Rinse the Coil Fins
Before putting the fan cage back over the unit, use a garden hose – and definitely not a power washer – to carefully rinse off the coil fins. This should remove any gunk that’s had a chance to build up over the past year. However, if the fins still seem dirty after a quick rinse, you can pick up a fin cleaning spray from your local home improvement store.
4. Straighten Any Damaged Fins
The coil fins can get damaged or warped over time, which can reduce efficiency. So, if you notice any bent fins while cleaning them, grab a butter knife (or similar tool) and gently straighten them out. Just be careful not to damage to the tubing inside the fins.
5. Make Sure the Unit Is Level
If the condenser unit or the pad it sits on is tilted or uneven, you might experience problems with your compressor or other components. Since the ground beneath the unit likely shifts and settles as it freezes and thaws over the years, you should do a quick annual check to make sure it’s still sitting level.
6. Clean the Evaporator Coil
It’s not just your outdoor unit that needs a bit of springtime love. The furnace unit inside your house also benefits from some light seasonal maintenance.
To clean the evaporator coil, locate and remove the coil door from the indoor unit. Then, lightly dust the coil and spray it with a no-rinse coil cleaner. Wait for the spray to foam and drip into the pan below. You can then wash out the pan with a mixture of soap, hot water, and a bit of bleach.
7. Clean or Replace the Air Filter
The air filter in your HVAC unit collects dust and allergens to prevent them from being circulated throughout your home. The dirtier the filter gets, the harder your system must work to maintain the same level of airflow – which is why it’s important to clean or replace your filter about twice a year.
If you live in a dry, dusty climate, you may need to change it more frequently. If you have a reusable filter, you won’t have to replace it as often, but you should still try to clean it out once every few months. Regardless of how often you replace it, make sure the new filter has the same airflow rating as the original.
8. Check Your Thermostat
At the start of every summer, it’s a good idea to make sure your thermostat is still working. Switch it to cooling mode, lower the temperature, and listen to make sure the AC kicks in.
If you have a particularly old thermostat, you may want to consider replacing it even if it’s still functional. There are plenty of new programmable models that allow you to set a schedule, so your AC turns on or adjusts the temperature at certain times of day.
9. Do a Test Run
After you’ve gone through the basic maintenance tasks listed above, crank up your AC and let it run for an hour or so. This isn’t just to cool you down now that your chores are done – it’s to make sure the unit is working properly. Listen to both the indoor and outdoor components for strange noises and make sure the conditioned air coming out of your vents matches the temperature set by your thermostat.
10. Report Major Issues to a Professional
Performing basic air conditioning maintenance ensures your unit runs smoothly all summer, lowers your chance of costly repairs, reduces your power bill, and extends the life of your AC unit. So, if you’re not comfortable performing any of these tasks on your own (or if you come across a problem that can’t be solved by simple maintenance), call up a professional ASAP.