As with most things in life, preparation is the key to success. When it comes to your home air conditioning unit, there are necessary steps that you’ll need to take to ensure that your system is ready to perform at its best throughout the long summer months ahead. Some of these steps you can perform on your own, while others will need an expert to be finished correctly.
Prepping Your Outdoor Unit
Before you head outside, be sure to kill the power to your air conditioning system at the circuit breaker. By killing the power at the breaker, you can be assured that the system doesn’t have any power going to it while you’re working on it. Also, by flipping the circuit breaker, you won’t have to fuss with the outdoor disconnect box.
Take a moment to look around the outdoor compressor unit. Be sure to remove any loose debris like twigs and leaves. If there are any overgrown shrubs or low-hanging tree limbs, you’ll want to trim them back. Your outdoor compressor unit needs a good three feet around it to provide adequate airflow.
While your outdoor compressor unit is still intact, put a level on the top of it. If your unit is not level, then you should adjust the concrete slab that it’s situated on. Simply packing down some gravel underneath the slab on the low side will help to level out the unit.
Clean Your Outdoor Unit
Once you get the area around your outdoor unit situated, it’s time to remove the cover and get to cleaning. The cover is typically held in by a few screws. You may need to disconnect some wiring to the fan motor to completely remove the grille cover. If so, be sure to take note of the wiring order so that you can reconnect it correctly once you’re done cleaning the unit.
Use a condenser coil cleaner to remove the stuck-on debris from your unit’s coil. This is a specialized caustic solution that creates a working foam that removes unwanted debris. Make sure to wear gloves when applying the cleaning solution as these cleaners tend to be very abrasive. Once the coil is successfully cleaned off, it’s time to grab your hose.
You’ll want to squirt out the rest of the unit to remove stuck-on debris and dirt. Avoid using a pressure washer as the pressure can cause damage to the unit’s metal fins. As you’re cleaning off those metal fins, take note of any that are bent out of position.
In order for the metal fins to disperse heat, they need to be straight. If you notice that any of the metal fins on your air conditioning unit are bent, you’ll want to straighten them back out. This can be done with a pair of small pliers or a fin comb that fits your unit. Once you get all the fins straightened back out, it’s time to put the AC grille cover back on.
Clean the Indoor Unit
Start by removing the access panel to the indoor air conditioning unit. This is commonly held on by screws. Set the access panel aside and locate your evaporator coil. Use a foam cleaning solution to remove the stuck-on debris. You can purchase a coil cleaner at your hometown hardware store.
Next, you’ll want to clean the drain and the drain pipe. Bleach is usually a great cleaning solution that removes debris and hard water scaling. Mix up a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. Pour this solution down the drain pipe and the drain. Make sure that all obstructions in the pipe and the drain are clear before reinstalling the access panel onto your indoor air conditioning unit.
Replace Your Air Filter
Most centralized home air conditioning units have at least one air filter that needs to be changed on a regular basis. Experts recommend replacing your filter every three months. However, each home is going to be different from the next. For example, those with lots of pets will likely find that their filter will need to be replaced more frequently.
You can easily locate your air filter housing in your ductwork. If you can’t find it, consult your AC system owner’s manual to determine just where it’s located at. Open the filter housing and remove the existing air filter. If you can’t see through the air filter, it’s time to replace it.
You have four main options for replacing your filter. These include fiberglass, HEPA, washable, and pleated. Those who have lots of pets, young children, severe allergies, or upper respiratory illnesses should highly consider a HEPA filter. This specific type of air filter removes 99.97% of all airborne pollutants.
Typically, most homeowners who are exempt from the situations above will opt for purchasing a pleated air filter. These provide the most filtering capability for an affordable price. Fiberglass filters are cheaper, but they don’t provide such a good level of filtering as pleated and HEPA air filters. Lastly, washable filters are ideal for those who don’t mind a little cleaning to save themselves a bundle on purchasing new filters every few months.
Whenever you go to replace your filter, you’ll need to locate the model number. Each air conditioning system has its own filter model number. You’ll need to match your new filter with the same model number to ensure that it will fit correctly within your home air conditioning unit.
Clean Your Vents
Throughout your home, there is a series of vents that supply air to your rooms. Each room should have both a supply and return vent. These vent grates tend to accumulate dust and other debris over time. It’s best to pop them out during the springtime and give them a thorough cleaning. You’ll want to make sure that they’re completely dry before reinstalling them.
While you’re working with the vents, take a moment to think about the airflow. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to unintentionally block the airflow around a supply vent with furniture or another object. If you notice that any of your air vents are blocked, relocate the object to another area so that there is free airflow through the vent.
When you have the vents out, it’s highly advisable to clean the parts of the venting that you have physical access to. Using a dry cloth, you can remove dust, debris, and other pollutants from the surface of your ductwork. You should have your ductwork professionally cleaned every three to five years.
Don’t Forget Your Professional Maintenance
It’s always a necessity to call in a professional air conditioning expert to finish up the preventative maintenance on your system. An expert will be able to do things like recharging your refrigerant level. They’ll also be able to handle all of the DIY tasks that we went over above so that you don’t have to worry about doing any of the AC maintenance if you don’t want to.
Trustworthy AC Maintenance
Shines Energy is an industry expert servicing Dartmouth and surrounding areas. We provide maintenance, installation, and repairs for both heating and cooling systems. Give our office a call today and let our knowledgeable technicians assist you with all of your home heating and cooling needs.