For your HVAC system to have a long life while it keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, it needs to be prepared for the warming and cooling season. This means calling in an HVAC professional twice a year for troubleshooting and an overall maintenance check.
Maintenance needs to be done well before the system is really needed to provide heat or cooling. An HVAC system that breaks down in the middle of the coldest night of winter or the hottest day of summer is, to say the least, problematic for you and your family. Here are some things you can do yourself before you call the HVAC technician for the biannual check-up:
Take the Cover off the Condenser
It’s actually surprising how many people forget to do this. The cover was needful during the cold weather when the system had to produce heat, but if it’s not taken off when it’s time for the air conditioning, it can destroy the condenser. So take the cover off, check the condenser for any damage, and get rid of any debris in or around it. This includes leaf litter, shrubs, dead insects, or animal nests. Mow the grass around the condenser to make sure it too doesn’t interfere with its performance. Make sure you have at least two or three feet of clearance around the condenser.
Clean the Condenser Unit
If you haven’t put a cover over your condenser, it has undoubtedly been gathering trash, dust, and other debris types during the winter that can clog it. Your air conditioner can’t run efficiently if it’s clogged. To clean out a condenser that is a little dirty, turn off the power at the source, and spray the inside with your garden hose. If the dirt is extensive, you’ll need to go to a hardware or big box store and buy a cleaner for a commercial AC.
Clean the Fins
The fins are also found in the condenser. They are delicate and must be cleaned with care so that they’re not bent. You can use a small, soft-bristle brush like a soft toothbrush or a brush made specifically for cleaning air conditioner fins. If some of the fins are bent, you’ll need to buy a tool that can straighten them. This tool, called a fin tool, looks like a paintbrush with many steel tines that can get between the fins and straighten them.
Clean or Replace the Filters
You should be cleaning or replacing your filters regularly anyway, but the changeover from heating to cooling is a must when replacing the filters. Not only that, swapping out the filters is one of the easiest tasks o perform to make sure your HVAC system works as well as it should. According to HVAC experts, you should replace your filter every month and more often if there’s a smoker or someone with allergies in the house. For more details, check out this website.
Buy a Programmable Thermostat
If you still have an old fashioned thermostat, consider installing a programmable one. These thermostats can be programmed even when you’re not home, so you can turn the system off when the house is empty then turn it on when you’re ready to come back from work, school, shopping, or even a vacation. You can do this over the internet or your cellphone. This can save you a good amount of money when it comes to your energy bill.
Make Sure the Outdoor Unit is Level
Check the concrete slab your condenser sits on after you’ve cleaned it, and make sure it’s level. You can use a spirit level to do this. If the slab is not level, you can use a board to pry it up and shovel gravel underneath until it is. A condenser on a lopsided slab is going to have to work harder to cool down the house.
Check the Ductwork
Another task to complete is to check the ductwork for leaks. Like a condenser that’s not level or is surrounded by trash, leaking ducts make the air conditioning system work harder. You’ll need to go into your basement or crawlspace and check for holes, pieces that have come apart or joints that are disconnected, fix them, or have them repaired.
Clear the Drain Line
Both a room unit air conditioner and a central air conditioner have drains, and they need to be clear. To keep it that way, flush the drain with one part chlorine bleach to 15 parts water.
Clear the Registers
Make sure that nothing is blocking the airflow of the registers. This includes furniture, draperies, containers, clothes, or toys.
Check the Electricity
Make sure that any electrical wiring is sound. If something looks worn, frayed, or burnt, call an electrician before turning on the air conditioner.