We’re going to go ahead and guess that preparing your A/C for summer is probably not on your to-do list. We get it: summer seems SO far away, especially when spring is just making an appearance (however small it may be). However, taking care of your A/C is not only healthy for your home environment but for your budget: the Department of Energy reports that heating and cooling accounts for almost half of your utility bill. The better maintained your HVAC, the more savings in the long run.
Adding these simple maintenance tasks to your spring cleaning effort will ensure you will beat the heat and chill out this summer. This will also help you detect significant problems early so you can contact a professional HVAC technician before it grows unmanageable. Who really wants to be worrying about their A/C in the summer, anyway?
#1: Replace the filters
Changing out your filters is one of the easiest things you can do to maintain your system’s efficiency. We recommend replacing your filters once a month. Here's how you do it:
- Turn off the power.
- Extract the old filter.
- Check the filter.
- Insert the new filter.
Turning off your system’s power is a safety precaution: no one needs to be touching live voltage. Shutting off the power instead of leaving it on will also ensure that no extra dirt or debris will get sucked into the unit while you’re changing the filter. Switch off the power on the system itself and in your circuit breaker.
Gently slide the old filter out of the slot that holds it in place.
After you remove the old filter, inspect its condition. If you hold it up to the light and can’t see light shining through, that’s a good sign that it definitely needs replacing. Use your best judgment: some filters need replacing after being in use for less time than the manufacturer states, while others go the distance. The amount of dirt and dust may vary depending on where you live: city units will probably experience more debris from smog than those in the suburbs.
Once you’ve decided you’re installing a new filter, simply insert the new filter inside the compartment by following the arrows on the filter that show you the direction air should flow. Make sure the arrow is pointing away from the return and towards the air handler.
#2: Install a programmable thermostat
With a programmable thermostat, you’re able to manually enter the temperature and amount of air flowing through your house when you need it, effectively minimizing waste and saving on your energy bill. They’re fairly easy to install, but we're always on call if you need step-by-step assistance via phone or a house visit!
#3: Clean the coils
We’re all well aware of the troubles winter brings. If you’ve left your unit uncovered, it’s more likely that debris, mud, and other materials have settled inside the coils and caused or will cause system holdups. Hose down your unit gently with water if the buildup is minimal. Otherwise, if the gunk is heavy, you may need to purchase air conditioner cleaner specifically made for removing sediment.
#4: Get rid of debris outside your unit
While you’re tending to the coils, check the area surrounding your unit. Overgrown plants, twigs, leaves, and other organic matter can inhibit your A/C’s performance. It would serve you well to mow the grass, pull up any weeds, and remove anything else blocking your unit.
Once summer hits, check your unit monthly for debris. Especially with the coming of summer storms, you want to build up as strong a defense against damage as possible. Summer storms are a doozy: high winds can hurl debris onto and into your unit. After any storm clears, make sure you’re doing your due diligence by doing a brief inspection and cleaning of your unit.
#5: Get rid of debris outside your unit
Resolving leaky ductwork will save a whole lot of money and energy this summer. If air is escaping your ductwork for some reason, your A/C has to work nearly twice as hard to compensate. Be sure to inspect your ductwork for leaks; if you find any, seal them with tape bearing an Underwriters Laboratories logo. Despite it being ductwork, this is not a job for duct tape.