It's Almost Spring – Have You Checked Your Air Conditioner Yet?
Spring is almost here and with it comes warmer weather and, eventually, the need for your air conditioner. If you haven't used your A/C in the past few months, it will need some work before you can get it up and running again. With the following tips and tricks, you can shake those cobwebs off your A/C system and get it ready for the hot summer months ahead.
Give Your A/C A Spring Cleaning
Over the winter months, it's likely that both indoor and outdoor cabinets have collected their fair share of dust and debris. Before you restart your A/C system, you'll want to give your entire system a thorough cleaning, starting with the outdoor condenser unit:
- Uncover your outdoor condenser (if you had it covered throughout the winter) and remove all vegetation and debris from around the bottom of the unit. Next, use a garden hose to rinse dirt and debris from the condenser coil.
- Check the air filter. Replaceable filters should be changed at least once every three months (or on a monthly basis if possible). Washable filters should be rinsed out using the same intervals.
- While the air filter is out, grab a shop vacuum and remove as much dust and debris from the return air intake as possible.
- Check the evaporator coil for signs of dust, grime, mildew or algae growth. You can either clean it yourself using some mild detergent and a soft-bristle brush or have a professional take care of the cleaning.
- Make sure that there's no standing water, grime and/or debris in the condensate drain pan or its associated drain tube. Don't forget to drop a drain pan tablet into the pan to prevent further mold and mildew growth.
Take A Good Look At Your Ductwork
Your ducts are another area of your A/C system that could use a cleaning. Any gaps, tears or cracks in the ductwork could allow air to escape while letting in dust and debris. It's a good idea to visually inspect as much of the visible ductwork as you possibly can. Be prepared to patch tears and reseal gaps with metal tape or mastic sealant. Ductwork in hard-to-reach areas, such as the voids between walls and ceilings, should be checked out by your HVAC technician.
Consider Upgrading Your Thermostat
If you haven't done so already, now is the time to consider replacing your current thermostat with a programmable model. A programmable thermostat could help you save money by making it easier to create temperature setbacks, which could significantly reduce your energy consumption and utility bills. In fact, properly using your programmable thermostat could help you save $180 or more on energy costs every year.
Test Your A/C System For Problems
Before you launch your A/C system into action, it's a good idea to take it on a test run. Briefly running your A/C system while it's still relatively cool gives you an opportunity to catch minor problems before they turn into bigger issues later on.
As you test your A/C system, here are a few things you'll want to look out for:
- Listen out for odd noises coming from the A/C unit. For instance, screeching or squealing noises could indicate a worn belt or a motor that needs lubrication.
- Check the vent registers and make sure that air flows freely through each vent.
- Make sure the air blows cold. If it doesn't, you may need to have your HVAC technician check. If necessary, recharge the refrigerant.
Don't Forget About Scheduled Maintenance
The early weeks of spring are an ideal time to have professional preventive maintenance. Not only can it help you prep your A/C for the summer ahead, but it's also less expensive than an emergency service call during the middle of the summer. Your HVAC technician will be able to do many tasks that you may not be comfortable with doing on your own, such as checking refrigerant levels and inspecting motors, bearings, and electrical wiring. Companies like Jones Air Conditioning & Electric may be able to meet your needs in this area.