When it gets hot out, it’s so tempting to start your AC up without a second thought. However, there are a few checklist items that you should take care of every summer in order to keep your AC system functioning well. Stay on top of these four HVAC maintenance tips this summer.
1. Change the air filter.
Your AC unit’s air filter should be changed regularly, and it’s a good idea to do this at the beginning of the warm season each year. This makes the to-do easy to remember, and it also starts off the season with a high-functioning AC system.
If you leave a dirty filter in the AC system, the air flow will be weakened, which will cause the unit to expend more energy to properly cool your home. This can cost you more on your energy bill, and it also means that your home may be warmer than you want it to be. You can either replace it or clean it, based on the type of air filter and how dirty it is. To clean it, use gentle soap and lukewarm water, rinse it thoroughly and let it dry before replacing.
Moving forward, you may want to check the air filter monthly while the AC’s in use. Whenever it’s dirty, replace it to improve airflow and reduce energy consumption. If you have pets or kids, you’ll probably need to clean or replace the air filter monthly. If you don’t have pets or a lot of people coming in and out of your house, you can probably get away with replacing it every three months or so, which may get you through the entire summer season on just one air filter.
2. Clean the coils.
Every summer, make a point to clean the condenser coils. This makes it easier for the AC system to get rid of hot air, because the condenser doesn’t have to use as much energy as when the coils need cleaning. It’s best to tackle this task before you use the AC the first time this season.
To clean the coils, turn off the AC unit at the thermostat, then turn off the condenser, which is usually located in a metal box on the outside of the house. Then, get rid of any dirt, debris and leaves that are on or around the unit. Using the spray attachment for a garden hose, rinse the coils gently with water, steering clear of any connections of the back of the unit. At this point, you can turn the condenser back on, but it’s best to wait until the coils are dry to turn the AC on from the thermostat.
3. Create open space around the vents.
How well your AC system works depends greatly on airflow. If there’s anything blocking the vents from pushing out the right amount of cool air, the system won’t do it’s job as well as it could. Since you don’t have to worry about this during the winter, you may not realize that there’s furniture or items blocking the vents.
Before you use the AC system for the first time, take a walk around your home to make sure nothing’s blocking the vents, like curtains, clothing, furniture, books, etc. Check outside, too, if you have central air – you want to leave 12 inches of space around the outdoor unit to allow it to function properly.
4. Check for problems.
AC units often suffer from an assortment of issues, including low airflow, leaks or icy coils. If you’ve taken the above steps but you still notice one or more of these problems, it could be because the AC is somehow blocked or one of the filters is clogged. If there is a leak, this could mean that a tube or pump is either blocked or damaged. It’s best to have an expert come in to inspect, diagnose and fix the problems, instead of trying to tackle it yourself.
By staying on top of HVAC maintenance every year, you’ll avoid harming your system, which means it’ll be able to function properly for as long as possible.