With summer on its way, it’s time to start thinking about pool parties, barbecues, and campouts around the fire. Summer has a carefree flare that can’t be spoiled by anything except perhaps a lack of air conditioning. Preparing your AC unit for the summer is an essential part of late-spring maintenance, for if your air conditioner is ready for the summer, the season is sure to be a blast.
The Structure of Your AC
Most AC units have two basic parts: the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. The evaporator unit, installed inside, usually requires minimal cleaning. Light dusting, managed regularly, should be sufficient. The outdoor unit is called the condenser. This has many moving parts and is exposed to the elements all year long. Most of the work for preparing your AC unit for the summer involves cleaning and maintaining the condenser.
Preparing your AC unit for Summer
Preparing your AC unit is certainly not the most fun preparation you make for the summer, but it is a necessary one if you want to enjoy the season without overheating. It helps if you make preparing your AC unit a priority before the weather gets too warm. The following steps can make the job pass quickly. You can also leave the work to the professionals to make sure everything is done properly.
The first step in preparing your AC unit for use is to turn it off. Even if you’re pretty sure the unit hasn’t used power through the winter, double check that everything is off at the source before starting any work.
Clean the Condensation and Coolant Lines
The condensation lines of your AC unit can fill with water that has no place to go when the unit hasn’t been in use for a while. Make sure these are clear before starting the unit up. You should also check the drain pan and pipe of the indoor evaporator. Sometimes these can become clogged with hard water.
The coolant lines and ducts will also need to be checked before you turn your air conditioner on. Make sure all passageways are clear and clean. Air should be able to flow freely through the entire system.
Clean or Replace the Filters
Both the condenser and evaporator units have filters that require regular maintenance. When these filters are dirty, the AC unit runs less efficiently, working doubly hard to push air through the mat of dirt and debris. This inefficiency leads to higher energy expenditure (and bills) and shortens the life of the air conditioner. It can also lead to the AC blowing particulates out into your home. Make sure you can see through your filters when you hold them up to the light. Clear away all buildup of dust and dirt.
Clean Condenser Coils
These essential components of your air conditioner should be cleaned thoroughly before the unit is used. Use a gentle foaming cleanser for the task.
Clean the Fins
The individual metal pieces that form the grill on the external unit are called fins. They need to be clean in order for air to pass through them easily. That being said, you must use great caution when cleaning your air conditioner’s fins, for they bend easily. The air conditioner can only function optimally if the fins are straight. Check your AC’s fins, and straighten any bent ones with a fin comb.
Clean Around the AC Unit
In order to function properly, your AC unit must have access to free-flowing air. This is true of both the internal and external units, though it is perhaps especially important for the condenser. Make sure that your AC unit has plenty of room for air to flow freely around it. Clear away any piles of leaves or discarded children’s toys, and make sure that the grass and shrubs on your property are not too tall or too close.
Make Sure Your Unit Is Level
When preparing your AC unit, make sure the concrete slab on which it sits is level. Uneven slabs can lead to water pooling around the unit, compromising its effectiveness.
Enjoy the Breeze
Once you have completely finished inspecting and preparing your AC unit, you can turn your thermostat back on and set it to cool. Then you can enjoy the benefits of cool air during the hot months.