Prepping Your Air Conditioner For Summer

Posted on: 19 February 2019

 Spring is almost around the corner! Soon, birds will be chirping and flowers blooming, but the arrival of spring means that summer heat is almost here as well. Many people forget about their air conditioning system over the cold winter months, potentially leaving problems unaddressed until the summer heat and humidity arrive in full force. The warm, comfortable months of early spring are the perfect time to get ahead of your HVAC maintenance.

Follow these simple steps to make sure that your home's air conditioning system is ready to keep you cool and comfortable through the worst that mother nature can throw your way.

Step 1: Inspect the Exterior Condenser

The exterior condensing unit (sometimes just referred to as the outdoor AC unit) is, along with the evaporator coil located inside your house, one of the two key components of your central air conditioning system. Once the snow and ice of winter clear, this condenser should be first on your maintenance and inspection checklist. When checking the exterior unit, keep the following questions in mind:

  • If the unit has removable protective panels, are any of the panels damaged or missing?
  • Are leaves, trash, or other debris collecting around or on the unit?
  • Are there obvious issues with the unit's wiring or cables?
  • Does the insulation on the heat pump pipe appear to be rotting or deteriorating?

If you notice any of these issues, they should be addressed before starting the unit. Replacing protective panels, clearing debris, and replacing pipe insulation are all fairly straightforward do-it-yourself jobs, but you should leave any wiring repair to a professional.

Step 2: Clean the Exterior Unit

Once you have assessed the exterior unit's condition and addressed any major issues, it will pay to give the coils a good cleaning. You should do this at least once per year, and spring is a perfect time. Special condenser coil cleaning products are available and relatively inexpensive, so using them is highly recommended.

Before proceeding with cleaning, be sure to shut down power to the exterior unit at your breaker box. Once power is off, simply spray down the unit with a garden hose to clear loose debris before liberally applying the condenser cleaner to the coils. Be sure to follow the instructions on the cleaner you purchased, but in most cases, you will simply need to rinse it off with water after ten or fifteen minutes.

Step 3: Inspect the Interior Evaporator

The evaporator coil is the half of your AC system that is located inside, and it can usually be found with your furnace. As with the condenser, it pays to perform some basic spring maintenance on the evaporator every year. In particular, you want to (as much as is possible) prevent dirty air from running over the evaporator coils and reducing their efficiency. To make sure that your evaporator is not exposed to an unnecessary amount of dust and dirt, check your furnace filter and vacuum out the blower compartment if possible.

Make sure your furnace is shut off (either at the furnace itself or the breaker box) before doing work on and near it.

Step 4: Schedule a Routine HVAC Inspection

It is not necessary to hire a professional to inspect your HVAC system every year, but it can be helpful to schedule regular check-ups at least once every other year. During this inspection, your technician will check for more subtle signs of wear that may need to be addressed. A professional inspector will also be able to access and clean the evaporator coils and check your blower for proper operation.