Soon, summer will truly be upon us, and keeping your air conditioning unit functional is one of the keys to a fun summer. Before you start using your AC for the season, you’ll want to make sure everything is in working order. Whether you do it yourself or bring in a professional, these upkeep tips won’t require hours of prep.
Basics to Keep in Mind
All these tips focus on the core concept of making sure that air can flow easily. Whether you have a central air system or a window unit, they all need air blowing in and out. Before you begin your upkeep, make sure the vents where that sweet cool air is actually blowing out of aren’t blocked. The fanciest air conditioner in the world can’t work if vents are covered by a sofa or filled with dust. Dust the vents and move furniture that’s blocking vents for a good flow of air.
Most importantly, before you start any cleaning or repairs, make sure you’ve turned off and unplugged your AC.
Change the Filter
The experts at HomeServe recommend changing your air filter. It’s a simple task that they say can boost your unit’s effectiveness by up to 15%. Get even more use out of your AC by using specialty filters like a HEPA filter, which can reduce allergens in your air. Check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website to figure out which filters are compatible with your unit.
For central air units, find where the air is being sucked back into the vents. That’s the return air duct, and that’s often where you’ll find the filter.
With windows units, you’ll often see the filter in front and can easily slip it out to swap it. Google and YouTube are great resources to figure out the details for your specific unit.
Check Your Fins
Dave Quandt of American Home Shield warns of the danger of bent fins. The two types of fins, condenser and evaporator, make up the thin metal grates around the outside of your AC unit. When they’re bent, they keep the air from flowing smoothly. Pick up a fin comb from a hardware store to straighten them out quickly and easily. Don’t forget to turn the unit off before you start straightening.
Trim Away Vegetation
If a central air system is best for you, keeping the area around your outdoor unit clear is very important. Trim any vegetation away, and keep lawn trimmings, bugs’ nests and the like from clogging the outside of your AC unit. If your pets or other wildlife love to hang out around your unit, consider putting up a fence. Leave a little space so that you’re not adding even more blockage.
Window units need to be free of brush and other obstructions as well. Make sure that no brave birds have decided to nest there. The compact design of window units means you can also do a little bit of DIY deep cleaning. Under the air filter, you’ll find evaporator coils. Carefully vacuum any dust or debris from those and you should recover even more air flow.
When to Take It to the Next Level
After you’ve done your best to get your AC in ship-shape condition, it’s time to take a test run. Run the AC for an hour or longer to see if you’ve missed anything – confirm all your vents are actually blowing out air at the desired temperature. If your trial isn’t a success, it’s time to call the pros.
“It can be dangerous if you do not know what you are doing,” warns AC expert and founder of National Air Warehouse Brandi Andrews. If you have to go beyond the steps suggested above, experienced hands are the safest bet. If you aren’t sure of what you’re doing it’s better to be safe than sorry. An AC specialist is going to be the best at identifying any real problems with your unit.
Andrews also says if you’re not doing the basics, repairs involve specialty tools and training. A simple mistake on your part could lead to even more complicated, and expensive, problems.
Taking care of your AC is something everyone should do. Completing these simple steps can ensure good working order, and anything more complicated can be handled by a pro.
How do you make sure your air conditioner is ready for summer? Let us know in the comments.
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