With warmer weather ahead, our day dreams start to shift focus to 90 degree weather, popsicles, and swimming pools…and then reality hits. You suddenly remember the all-important and much needed air conditioning tune-up on your “to-do” list.
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Temperatures are rising and it’s definitely time to start thinking about turning on the AC. With your system lying dormant for six months, there are a few things that can be easily done to ensure that your air conditioner is running properly.
There are two main parts to an air conditioning system. There is an exterior condenser unit and then an interior evaporator unit that’s mounted on the air handler or the furnace. Essentially, these two pieces of equipment work to extract heat from your home using the same process as a refrigerator. After that, the air handler or furnace blower pushes chilled air through the ductwork of your home. Overall, detailed maintenance of the system is not a do-it-yourself job and should be done by a professional. However, certain cleaning and maintenance can be done yourself.
The main thing to check before you start cleaning is to turn off the power to your condenser at the service panel. Ensuring that everything you touch is completely powered down is the most important thing to remember. Not doing so is extremely dangerous. Most condensers also have a 240-volt disconnect box near the unit. Once everything is turned off, you still need to wait 30 minutes for the electrical charge in the capacitor to dissipate. Again, not doing so is extremely dangerous as you could be electrocuted.
Simple tip that most don’t think of –– set your thermostat at a normal temperature. Don’t turn your thermostat all the way down. That won’t help your house cool down faster; it will just make your AC work longer. Lowering the temperature in your home won’t work unless you switch the setting to “cool.” If the cool air doesn’t kick-in a few minutes after changing the setting, consider calling a service technician for repair.
When it comes to maintaining your air conditioning unit, starting outside your home is the easiest place to begin. Check the exterior unit and clear away anything that could impede airflow. This includes cutting back any grass, hedges or trees that could potentially get in the way. It’s also common to find grass, leaves, or trash by the condenser that should be removed. Make sure the grills are clear and you can also spray the coils off with a hose. If you’d like, you can also use a specialized brush to clean the fins.
The filter for your air conditioner can be found on your interior unit. You should check this filter monthly to remove any dust or debris. Filters are extremely important as they keep particles out of the AC mechanism. A dirty filter restricts airflow and makes the air conditioning system less efficient. It also recirculates dust back into your home and increases allergens.
Changing the air filter is as important for your air conditioner as changing the oil is for your car. Put in a new filter at the start of summer, and then at least once every 3 months after that. If you live where it is windy or there is construction, or if you have allergies, you might need to change it more often. So the shortened version of this is, air filter- check, clean, or replace standard. *Specialty filters might be pricier but are worth the money. Spend a few extra dollars and buy a pleated filter for better durability.
You don’t want all the cold air to leak out into your attic, so check to see if you notice any holes where air escapes. There are two common types of ductwork: flexible ducts and rigid metal ducts. Flexible ductwork is often used because it’s faster to install, but it doesn’t last as long. Metal ductwork lasts longer. If you have holes or leaks in your flexible duct, it’s time to replace it. If you have a leak in metal ductwork, you can seal it with…you guessed it- Duct tape.
Dirt and debris build-up on your outside unit (the condenser), which blocks airflow and makes your air conditioner work harder. Collect any free water that might have occurred from condensation. Once a year you want to wash off the debris; first turn off the power, and then you can use a garden hose. Gently rinse it so the water cleans between the thin metal fins on the condenser.
To ensure your air conditioner is running smoothly, it’s important to regularly check the drain line. This pipe or hose attached to your interior unit moves excess water away from the coils and into a drainage area. If the drain line is blocked, the water can back up into the system, causing damage and potentially expensive repairs. If you suspect the drain line is blocked, it’s crucial to call a professional technician for repair as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
There are more efficient and cost-effective air conditioning systems made every year. If you’re considering upgrading, be sure to look for models that have the Energy Star logo on them. With the right model, it is likely that you’ll save money on your energy bills.
Ultimately, keeping your home cool and comfortable in any weather shouldn’t require a lot of worry or expense. And as the weather starts to warm up, there’s no better time to schedule an A/C tune-up. Shipley Energy offers a thorough 16 point inspection to ensure that your air conditioner is operating at peak efficiency. Not only is the system checked, but the technician will also verify that all electrical and mechanical systems are operating properly.
Experts suggest to get your air conditioner inspected annually. This helps cut down on energy costs for you and can help ensure that your system runs longer and cleaner.
Don’t risk an A/C emergency in the middle of summer! Call us today at 855.573.7468 to schedule your annual maintenance tune-up.