As soon as the snow stops flying and the weather starts to heat up, it’s time to think about prepping your centralized home air conditioning unit for the long summer months ahead. It’s advisable that homeowners take the time to perform preventative maintenance on their system and test it out before it’s actually needed.
It’s important to realize that there are many tasks involved in preparing your home air conditioning unit for the summertime. While many of these tasks can be done on your own, there are ones that will need to be specifically performed by an air conditioning expert. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to set up a maintenance appointment during the spring months.
The first thing that you’ll want to do is to turn off the power to your entire air conditioning unit. You can easily do this by locating your home’s electrical panel box. Pop open the access panel and locate the circuit breaker that is labeled for your air conditioning system. Turn the breaker to the off position. You’ll want to leave the power off until it’s necessary to test the system after all of your maintenance is performed.
Once the power is killed, it’s time to dive into the indoor unit. It will be enclosed with an access panel that is held on by bolts or screws. Remove the fasteners, and take off the access panel. You’ll want to locate the evaporator coil and apply a cleaning solution. Most hardware stores sell a cleaning solution specifically for evaporator coils. This is a foaming solution that removes stuck-on dirt and debris.
After all of the foaming cleanser drips down into the drain pan, it’s time to clean the rest of the system. You’ll want to use a 50/50 water and bleach solution to clean out the drainpipe and the drain itself. It’s not uncommon for hard water buildup to find its way into the drainpipe and drain.
Over time, this hard water buildup can actually clog the drain or the pipe. Removing the buildup at the start of each year will greatly reduce your risk of experiencing a water backup throughout the summer months. Once everything is clean, it’s time to reinstall the access panel.
Take Care of Your Ducting
You’ll want to go through each room of your home and remove the vents. There are typically two vents in each room, which are the supply and return vents. Remove the vents from the wall, and wash them all off. Over time, the grates in the vents tend to collect stuck-on dirt and debris. Make sure that the vents completely dry before reinstalling them because this will eliminate the risk of mold growth due to excess moisture left on the vents.
The ductwork that runs throughout your entire home should be professionally cleaned every three to five years. Professional air conditioning technicians have specialized equipment that allows them to access all areas of your ductwork that can’t be accessed by hand. While you have the vents out, it’s recommended to use a dry cloth to wipe up any unwanted debris in the exposed ductwork.
Change the Air Filter
An important maintenance task for any homeowner with a centralized home air conditioning system is changing out the air filter. The air filter housing is found within the ductwork. Its job is to remove airborne particles from the air that circulates throughout your entire home.
Most air conditioning experts recommend replacing the air filter every three months. For homes with a lot of pets, filter changes may be required more often. The best way to know when your filter needs to be changed is to look at it. When you hold the filter up to a light source, you should be able to see through it. If you can’t, then it’s time to replace the filter. It’s highly recommended to check your air filter at least once a month.
When your air filter needs to be replaced, you have four different options. These include pleated, fiberglass, HEPA, and washable air filters. Pleated air filters tend to be the most common since they’re affordable and have a high level of filtering capability. Fiberglass filters have a lower filtering capability and are much cheaper to buy.
HEPA filters are more expensive and offer superior filtering capability, which is why they’re highly recommended for homes with young children. If you don’t want to buy new air filters every three months, you can always opt for a washable filter. This requires you to manually wash it out when it gets dirty. If you decide to go with this option, you must always ensure that the filter is dry before you reinstall it. Otherwise, the excess moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth.
A vital part of your centralized home air conditioning system is your outdoor compressor unit. This unit is typically located within a couple of feet of the exterior of your home. When you first approach the unit, you’ll want to look to see if there is anything within a two-foot radius of it. If so, remove the debris, and trim back the shrubs to allow adequate airflow around the unit.
Next, remove the AC grille cover and set it to the side. If you need to, disconnect any wiring that is attached to the grille cover so that you can completely remove it from the rest of the system. The first internal component that you’ll want to clean is the condenser coil. You can find a specialized condenser coil cleaner at your local hardware store. Be careful when applying the cleanser because it can be quite caustic.
Once the condenser coil is cleaned, it’s time to use your hose. Spray off the metal fins and any debris remaining in the internal unit. Avoid using a pressure washer for this type of cleaning job because it could damage the metal fins. As you clean the metal fins off, take note of any fins that are bent.
You’ll want to bend those fins back into position to ensure that they work correctly. Your local hardware store will likely sell fin combs that make this job very quick to perform. You’ll just need to know how many metal fins are in a square inch on your outdoor compressor unit. If you don’t have a fin comb, you can use a pair of needle-nose pliers to get the job done. Go ahead and reinstall the AC cover. Reconnect any wires that you previously disconnected when removing the cover.
Lastly, you’ll want to throw a level on top of the outside unit. Your system will need to sit completely level to work at its most optimal efficiency. If you notice that the unit is not level, try to put gravel under the low corner of the concrete slab. Do your best to get the outdoor compressor unit as level as possible.
Reliable AC Maintenance
Woodward Heating is a reliable AC maintenance professional in Salem, OR. We offer heating and air conditioning repairs, maintenance, and installation. We also provide expert gas piping, indoor air quality, ducting, and fireplace services. Give us a call today, and we’ll get a technician on the way to your home!