Is your air conditioner ready for hot weather? While there is no substitute for an HVAC tune-up, inspection and cleaning performed by a professional, there are simple things you can do throughout the spring and summer to keep your A/C unit in good shape.
Here are seven summer air conditioner maintenance tips that homeowners can perform to stay cool during seasonal heat waves.
1. Air Filter Maintenance
One of the easiest air conditioner maintenance tips is also one of the most important. You should check your central A/C air filter every month and change it if it’s dirty. Not sure? Hold it up to the light—if you can’t see through it, it needs to be changed.
In many cases, this works out to an air filter change every 60 days—90 days at the maximum. If you have pets in the home or an excess of dust, you may need to change your A/C filter every 30 days.
Why is changing your air filters so important? A clogged or excessively dirty air filter can restrict air flow to the unit, causing it to work harder than it should. It may even overheat, leaving you overheated on a hot summer day with no A/C.
2. Remove Obstructions From Around Exterior Condenser
The outdoor condensing unit needs to be free and clear of obstructions in order to operate efficiently. All plants, trees, flowers and shrubbery should be planted and cut back to between two and three feet in order to ensure that the condenser gets maximum air flow.
If there is visible dirt, debris, dust, pollen or leaves on your condensing unit, you can use a soft broom or shop vac brush attachment to gently remove it. Always move in the direction of the fins—they are easily bent out of shape. You can also used gloved hands to remove larger pieces of debris. You need to completely turn off the power to the unit when doing this kind of maintenance. Turning off the thermostat isn’t enough—you never know when someone in the house might decide to flip it back on!
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t just spray water on the outside of the unit with a hose in order to clean it. This will force the dirt and debris further into the unit’s coil. A proper condenser cleaning involves removing the panels and top of the unit so the coils can be cleaned from the inside out. This cleaning should be part of your annual professional maintenance tune-up.
The Trane website has a helpful explanation of what you should expect from your yearly air conditioner coil maintenance.
3. Don’t Close Central Air Conditioner Vents
Central air conditioners are designed to work as one cohesive unit and this includes the vents and ducts inside the home. They need air to operate. Completely closing an air conditioning vent can result in the A/C unit freezing up.
For efficient A/C operation, you should check that vents in the home are not blocked. In unused rooms, partially closed vents are usually sufficient to keep air flow operating effectively.
4. Pay Attention to the Sun and Outdoor Temperatures
During the hottest part of a summer day, keep your house cool by closing blinds and curtains. This helps prevent your air conditioner from working harder than it needs to in order to cool the home.
5. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Most programmable thermostats allow homeowners to set temperatures according to the time of day and also whether it’s a weekend or weekday. For optimal temperature control, homeowners should set the coolest temperatures for the times when they are home and awake. Set your thermostat to a warmer indoor temperature during times when you anticipate being out of the house to save money on cooling bills and reduce the workload on your A/C unit.
6. Evaluate Your Doors, Windows and Ductwork
Drafts around closed exterior doors and windows are a sign that warm air is getting in and cool air is getting out! Save money on your HVAC utility bills by having drafts professionally sealed. If certain ducts are blowing warmer-than-normal air or air flow is occurring through the duct when the A/C unit is not running, call a professional HVAC technician to evaluate your ductwork and seal any cracks and holes.
7. Preventive Maintenance
Scheduling preventive maintenance for your central A/C unit is the best way to make sure you’ll have reliable and efficient cool air all summer long. During an A/C maintenance inspection, a professional HVAC technician will examine all critical components of the central air conditioning unit, thoroughly clean the coils inside the unit, check refrigerant levels and recommend any needed repairs.
If you want the peace of mind of thorough air conditioning maintenance, contact Althoff Industries. We offer 24-point air conditioner tune-ups in Chicago and the Northwest suburbs. Call (815) 455-7000 to schedule now.
This information is provided as a general guideline. Althoff Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.