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How to Prepare an Air Conditioner for Summer

feature ac for how to prepare and air conditioner for summer article.

That anticipatory summer excitement can veil some of the more pressing matters of the summer season, like having an air conditioner that works! We often take the cool recluse of our homes for granted, forgetting that they don’t wind up that way by chance until the air conditioner fails. Soon, you’re sweating, chugging ice water to drown your regret. Luckily, you can dodge a majority of air conditioner issues by taking some simple preparatory measures before temperatures heat up. Here are five simple ways how to prepare an air conditioner for summer.

Replace or clean your air filters

Dirty AC filter beside clean AC filter
Image source: energy.gov

Failing to thoroughly clean or replace your air conditioner’s filters once or twice a year will tank its efficiency. Just like clothes dryers, air conditioners need a clean, clear filter in order to work as designed. An air conditioner with a dirty filter will also send extra dust and debris into your home, which may trigger allergies in your family. 

A clean and clear filter is an easy, inexpensive way to maximize the power of your cooling costs and avoid paying an HVAC company to repair your A/C. Depending on your air conditioning system, you’ll have one or two filters to check on. If you can’t see through it after holding it up to a light, it’s best to replace it altogether. 

Clean the outer (condensing) unit

Before you do this, make sure the power is off on the outer condensing box. The condensing unit of your air conditioner is responsible for releasing the heat from its refrigerant back into its natural, summer habitat. 

Heat is blown away from the refrigerant coils in the condensing box by the power of the fan atop them. This outer unit has several parts that are exposed to the elements of the outdoors, and will likely require a bit of cleaning to function efficiently. Here’s what to check for:

Debris

You’ll likely notice a few leaves and twigs on top of your outer condensing unit. This box has a large fan at its top, which is covered with a metal grille. Brush off the grille, checking for anything stuck in the blades of the fan or nestled beneath them. Check the sides of the box too, brushing off anything you see.

Metal grille should be brushed to prepare AC for summer season
Metal Grille

Dirt

Dirt and dust can clog up the condenser coils of the outer unit, again lowering its efficiency. These coils can be carefully cleaned to increase their life and efficiency, as can the metal fins of the compression unit. The thin metal fins are easy to bend out of place, so work with a careful hand.

Drain Blockages

Outer coolant systems will have a drain near them to ferry away excess condensation. Check that drain for any blocks, which could be leaves or other organic debris. If the drain is backed up, you could end up receiving the backwash in your home. 

Coolant Lines

The coolant lines connecting to the outer unit should be checked for any signs of leaks or damage. These pipes are covered with foam insulation to improve their efficiency, which you may need to replace if parts are missing or damaged. 

Clean The Inner (Evaporating) Unit

The cleaning guidelines for the inner unit are similar to your outer unit. Replace or clean any dirty air filters and check the drain and drain pipes for signs of leaks or damage. Check the evaporating coils for built-up debris or gunk, which you’ll want to clean in the same gentle fashion as the condensing coils. 

While you’re inside, check the HVAC ductwork of your home. Even the smallest of leaks can reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner by shocking amounts. Check to see if any lines have disconnected or been punctured–holes can be sealed with fabric-backed tape. 

Remove Debris Around AC Unit

Make sure your outer AC unit has room to breathe. Trim any bushes or trees encroaching on its space–give it about two feet of room all around. Without ample space, your outer unit will struggle to disperse and inhale air as necessary. Keep the grass low around it as well. 

Test And Troubleshoot 

Now, you can turn the power back on and give your AC a whirl. Ideally, you’ll notice any hiccups or issues during this test, helping you have a fully-functioning air conditioner once summer rolls around. Take a quick walk-around, checking for any water leaks, strange noises, or no noises at all. 

Now that you know how to prepare an air conditioner for summer, you can get the most out of your unit. These tips increase efficiency and the life of your unit. If you have any questions at all, feel free to contact us here at City Energy Heating & Air Conditioning, your AC professionals.

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