After a long, cold winter, most homeowners are ready to enjoy soaking up the summertime heat—that is, until it gets way too warm to enjoy being outdoors for too long. Fortunately, your home’s air conditioning unit can be a great method for beating the hottest of the heat that the summertime brings.
It’s really easy to switch your thermostat to the cooling function and set your desired indoor temperature. Unfortunately, without proper preparation, it’s likely that your home air conditioning system won’t work efficiently, and it’s at a higher risk of breaking down during operation. To avoid these problems, it’s necessary to perform preventative maintenance on your AC system at the start of each spring.
DIY vs. AC Pros
Many homeowners think that they have two options when it comes to their AC maintenance. They can either do it themselves or call in an air conditioning professional to do it. The reality is that you’re always going to need to call in a professional.
Professional air conditioning experts have specialized equipment and knowledge that homeowners do not. For example, they have specialized equipment for recharging your refrigerant levels. When you hire them for your annual maintenance, you have one of two options. You can have them do all of the maintenance tasks for you or just the ones that you don’t have the specialized equipment to do.
If you opt for performing most of the maintenance on your own, there are some guidelines that you’ll need to follow. There are three main areas of your home that you’ll need to perform maintenance on. These include the indoor AC unit, the outdoor AC unit, and the ductwork.
You’ll need a few key tools to perform this type of maintenance. You’ll need your hose to clean your outdoor unit and a pair of small pliers to straighten out the metal fins. You’ll need some bleach and water to clean your indoor unit. Lastly, you’ll need to stop by your local hardware store to pick up a new air filter, evaporator coil cleaner, condenser coil cleaner, and a fin comb if you so choose.
It’s best to have all of these tools out and available the day you plan on performing maintenance on your home’s air conditioning system. For most homeowners, it takes about half of a day to complete all of their preventative maintenance tasks. While you can split up these tasks over multiple days, it’s typically easiest just to knock them all off on the same day.
Indoor AC Unit
The best place to start your annual air conditioner maintenance is your panel box. Locate the circuit breaker for your air conditioning system and turn it to the off position. You don’t want to have any live power going to your air conditioning system when you’re cleaning and working on it.
Go ahead and remove the access panel from your indoor air conditioning unit. Locate your evaporator coil and use the foaming cleaning solution to remove the stuck-on dirt and debris. Next, mix up a 50/50 bleach and water solution. You’ll want to pour this down the drain and the drain pipe. It will remove any hard water scaling and other stuck-on debris. Grab your access panel and reinstall it.
Air Filter Replacement
Your home’s air conditioning system will have at least one air filter. This works to remove unwanted airborne pollutants from the air inside of your home. Over time, the filter will become clogged with harmful pollutants and will need to be replaced.
Start by locating your air filter housing and remove the existing filter. If you can’t see through it, it’s time to replace it. Locate the model number on the existing filter so that you know what size filter you need. You can pick up one of four different styles of air filters at your local hardware store.
These include washable, pleated, fiberglass, and HEPA filters. At the bottom of the quality scale are fiberglass filters. These are fairly inexpensive to buy and provide a minimal level of air filtering. Pleated filters are the next step up. They provide quality filtering at an affordable price.
HEPA filters are the top-quality air conditioner filter, and they remove 99.97% of airborne particles. However, they do come at a high price. Washable filters are in their own category as they simply need to be washed by hand when they become clogged.
Outdoor AC Unit
When you get to your outdoor AC unit, there are a few things that you’ll need to do. It will need to be cleaned and leveled, and its surrounding perimeter will need to be cleared. It’s typically easiest to start with the surrounding perimeter.
You’ll want to aim for a 3-foot perimeter around the outdoor compressor unit. Trim back any bushes or tree limbs that are hanging within this designated perimeter. Sweep away any loose leaves, twigs, and other debris that is trapped near the unit. This will allow adequate airflow through the entire outdoor AC unit.
Take a level, and place it on top of the outdoor AC unit. The unit needs to be level to operate at an efficient level. If it’s currently level, then you’re good to go. If it’s unlevel, pack some gravel underneath the low sides to bring it to a level position.
Go ahead and locate the fasteners that are holding the AC grille cover on. Remove these fasteners and take off the cover. If there is wiring that won’t let you remove the cover, you’ll need to temporarily disconnect the wiring until you finish cleaning the outdoor AC unit.
Start by cleaning the condenser coil with the specialized AC coil cleaner that you purchased at the store. This is a caustic solution, so protective gloves should be used when applying this solution. Next, grab your hose and give the entire inside of the compressor unit a good cleansing. It’s not uncommon for loose leaves and other debris to get jammed in between the metal fins. Use your hose to blast out that unwanted debris.
In most cases, you’ll notice that some of your metal fins have become accidentally bent. These are very sensitive, and even the slightest motion can bend them out of position. Use a pair of small pliers or an appropriately sized fin comb to straighten these metal fins back into their original position. Go ahead and reinstall the air conditioner grill cover. Be sure to reconnect any of the wiring and tighten down the fasteners.
Test Your System
Once all the necessary preparation steps have been executed above, it’s time to give your air conditioning unit a test run. You’ll need to flip the circuit breaker for your air conditioning unit back to the on position. Make sure that your thermostat is set at a reasonable temperature and let your system run. You want to make sure that cool air is coming out of all of your supply vents and there are no leaks in your indoor AC unit.
Quality AC Maintenance
Reliable Air Conditioning is your quality air conditioner maintenance professional in the Gilbert area. Our experienced technicians can assist you with all of your heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality needs. Give us a call today and let our friendly staff assist you.