Preparing Your Air Conditioner for the Summer

If you have central air conditioning in your home, you want to make sure that your system works smoothly all summer long. To make sure that you don’t have any problems, there are several easy steps that you should take before the temperatures start to rise. While these steps can help make your air conditioner ready for summer, it is wise to have your unit inspected by a HVAC professional on a yearly basis to ensure that everything is working properly.

Change Air Filters
The first thing that you should do is to check the state of your air filters. Air filters should be replaced at least twice a year. If you have a lot of dust in your area, it is possible that they will need to be replaced more frequently. Clogged air filters will greatly affect the efficiency level of your air conditioning system. If you have a filter that slides into the air handler’s housing, make sure that the filter port has an airtight cover. Leaving the filter port open can result in the loss of up to 30% of the cold air that is supposed to be sent into your home.

Clean the Condenser
Once your air filters are changed, the second area to clean is your condenser. Before you attempt to clean your condenser, make sure that the power to your unit has been completely turned off. The best way to ensure that there is no power getting to the unit is to remove the fuse or flip the circuit in your disconnect box. Wait 30 minutes from the time you cut the power to when you work on the condenser to ensure that the charge has time to completely dissipate. Not disconnecting the power can result in extreme injury.

Your condenser is normally located outdoors. Typically it looks like a large fan in a metal box. Over the winter the unit can collect leaves and debris, especially if it has been left uncovered. The first step is to clean the condenser coils. Remove the top and side grills on the condenser with a screwdriver. As the top is connected to the fan, it can often be heavy and will have attached wires. Carefully maneuver around the wires to access the coils. First, gently clean the coils with a refrigerator coil brush and then vacuum the coils from the inside. If you find that the debris is hard to remove, spray the coils with a special coil cleaner. Just be careful that you do not spray the fan or any of the wires.

Once the coils have been cleaned, the next step is to look at the base of the condenser. Scoop out any leaves or debris that have gathered and cut out any vines or weeds that may have gathered in the unit. If the condenser has a drain, make sure that the drain is also completely cleared.

The last thing step to cleaning your condenser is to check the blades. Use a soft cloth and vacuum to clean any dust off the blades and then tighten any mounting blots that may have loosened over the winter. If the unit has oil ports, spray them with WD-40 or some other lightweight oil. At this point you are ready to reassemble your summer-ready condenser.

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