Springtime is the Right Time for AC MaintenancePublished on: April 14, 2014
The warm weather is quickly approaching, and with it, the need to turn on your air conditioning system so your home stays cool on those hot days. Before you start using your air conditioner, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and HVAC pros alike recommend scheduling an annual maintenance appointment to make sure it’s in good working order. This will help your system run more efficiently (which means lower energy bills) and helps prevent untimely breakdowns.An air conditioner that gets the TLC it needs also results in improved indoor air quality. Find out what to expect during a professional A/C tuneup and what steps you can take yourself to keep your system in tip-top shape.
A/C Tuneup Checklist
During a standard central A/C tuneup, an HVAC contractor will typically perform the following:
- All of the system’s controls will be checked to make sure they are working safely and properly. The contractor will check all stages of its operating cycle to determine that starts, run and turns off as intended.
- The thermostat’s setting will be examined to ensure it’s programmed to keep your home nice and cool when you’re home and go into energy-saving mode when you’re away.
- The condensate drain will be inspected to see if anything is plugging it up. Water damage can occur if your drain’s clogged, and humidity levels can be impacted as well.
- The voltage and current on the system’s motors will be measured and all electrical connections will be tightened. Ensuring there are no faulty connections helps extend the life of major components and is important for safe operation.
- Every moving part will be lubricated to prevent friction in the mechanical parts, which increases your energy expenditure.
- The blower components will be cleaned and adjusted to be certain your system’s airflow is moving effectively. According to the EPA, restricted airflow can lower your air conditioner’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.
- The A/C’s condensing and evaporator coils (outside and inside, respectively) will be cleaned. If the coils are full of gunk, your system may have to run longer in an effort to cool your home. This, of course, leads to higher energy costs and shortens the life of your system.
- The refrigerant levels will be looked at to see if they need to be adjusted. Your system isn’t as efficient as it should be when it doesn’t have enough refrigerant. This can also lead to early system failure. Low refrigerant either means a leak in the system or inadequate charging when it was originally filled.
Performing Your Own A/C Maintenance
You can also be proactive with air conditioner care by performing some simple maintenance steps on your own. This can be especially wise if you find that you need to run your system before your scheduled tuneup appointment. Before you turn your air conditioner on, you should:
- Vacuum the front grills, air registers and return air vents.
- Take the grill off the main unit and remove the air filter for cleaning or replacing.
- Gently vacuum the fins or coils with a soft brush attachment while the filter is out. If you notice any bent fins, you can mold them back into shape with a putty knife. This will help ensure proper airflow.
- Examine the small drain hole, which is typically located beneath the coil or fins. Condensed water comes through this drain and goes to a drip pan that’s in the back of the unit. Clear the drain out with a wire or straightened paper clip. This is especially important if you see any water. After you insert the wire into the hole, it should drain out right away.
- Clean the drip pan, particularly if you smell a musty odor or notice mold or bacteria growth.
- Install a new or cleaned air filter after finishing the above steps, making sure it’s properly in place.
Do you need more information on an annual A/C tuneup? Please feel free to contact us to find a contractor in your part of the Southeast United States.