When winter is coming to a close, you want to start thinking about your home air conditioning system. The winter can be tough on the outdoor part of the system and it is important to make sure that everything is working properly. While a full inspection from a professional is recommended at the beginning of every usage season, there are some steps that can help to keep the unit working properly and to its best efficiency. The average homeowner should be able to follow these steps to get their air conditioner ready for spring.
Before you start with any air conditioner maintenance task, it is important to disconnect the power to ensure safety.
Clean Around the Unit
The first step for pre-spring AC maintenance is to make sure that the area around the unit is clear and free of any obstructions. If you have a cover on the unit, remove the cover before you start. Clean up any leaves or debris that may have built up during the winter months. If plants, shrubs or grass have grown up around the unit, you want to make sure to trim or remove them. Cleaning up around the unit will make for better airflow and this will help to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the system.
Clean the Coils
Dirty coils will affect the system’s ability to produce cold air. This will reduce the air conditioner’s effectiveness and it will also cause it to work harder – costing the homeowner in electricity and diminishing the operating life of the machine. A professional HVAC technician will be able to provide a much more thorough cleaning for the coils, but a homeowner can perform a basic cleaning and that will be better than not having it done at all.
Inspect the Outdoor Unit
This is another job that will be performed with more accuracy and thoroughness if it is done by a professional, but there are a few points that the homeowner can check on their own. It is possible for the cold weather and moisture to cause the concrete pad to shift, so the homeowner will want to make sure that the unit is still sitting on a level surface. You also want to check the insulation around the pipes. If it is damaged or missing, you are going to need to have that replaced. Take a look at the electrical connections. Check for any corrosion and make sure that all of the connections are tight. When you are done, replace all of the panels securely on the unit.
Check the supply and return vents for the system. Make sure that they are clean and free from any obstruction. Maybe use a vacuum to suck up any excess dust and wipe the grills down with a clean cloth.
This is a step that needs to be performed about once a month, but it is a good thing to think of when you are doing maintenance. Check to make sure that the furnace filter is clean. If it is dirty or clogged with dust, replace or clean the filter.
Run the System
Once you have performed this basic maintenance, you will want to make sure that the system is working. If there is a problem with the air conditioner, checking it early will provide you with more time to get it serviced by a professional. Restore power to the air conditioner and let it run for a full cycle. Check to make sure that cold air is coming from the vents and try to observe any irregular noise that may be coming from the system.
Doing some of this basic maintenance on your own can be a good way to keep your air conditioner in proper working condition. It will maintain the life of the machine and improve efficiency. That being said, a full inspection and cleaning from a professional is still the best way to go. A professional will have the equipment and the knowhow to clean the system more thoroughly and they will be able to perform a more comprehensive inspection.