Get Your Air Conditioner Ready for Summer

As the snow melts and the days start getting longer, everyone starts to look forward to summer. Are you ready? In addition to planning vacations and booking summer camps, you also need to ensure that your air conditioner is ready for summer. Avoid unexpected breakdowns and safeguard the efficiency of your AC with these tips.

Wall Mounted Heat Pump

1. Clean/change your filter

Before turning on your AC for the summer, make sure to clean or replace your filter. Some ACs have filters that can be removed and cleaned, while others must be replaced. The filter for your central AC should be in the air handler or between the return duct and air handlers. Window ACs have a filter in the unit itself. Ductless ACs have filters in their indoor air handling unit.

Dirty filters prevent air from flowing freely through your system, forcing your AC to work harder than it should and thus reducing the lifespan of your equipment. On top of that, all of the air that moves through your AC goes through the filter, and the quality of your home’s air is only as clean as your filter.

Generally, you should clean or replace your filter at least once a year, right before the cooling season starts or at the end of the summer. However, if you have pets, cook a lot, or use a wood-burning stove during the winter, you may need to change your filter more often.

2. Clean the outdoor compressor

If you have a window AC, you don’t have an outdoor compressor, but both central and ductless air conditioners connect to outdoor compressors. Before running your system, make sure that you have a look at the outdoor compressor. If you cover it during the winter, remove the cover before running the AC or the system won’t work properly.

Remove all leaves, branches, or other debris that has collected around the compressor during the winter. Debris blocking airflow into the compressor reduces efficiency, and if it gets inside the compressor, it can prevent the fan from turning properly, increasing the risk of a breakdown.

If you want to clean the coil, make sure that you turn off the power to the condenser. Most outdoor units have a disconnect box located near the unit. Do not attempt to do anything inside the condenser unless you’re sure the power is off.

To reach the coil, you generally need to remove the top of the unit. The fan may be attached to the top so be prepared for it to be heavy. Watch for cords and make sure you don’t disconnect anything. When you free the top, set it down upside down so that you don’t bend the fan blades. Then, clean the coil using a coil brush or a soft brush attached to your vacuum. Take care not to bend the fins. If desired, you can buy a special fin comb to help you clean this area.

3. Check the coolant lines

There will generally be coolant lines running from your outdoor compressor to your home. Check these lines for any signs of wear or breakage. You may also want to replace their insulation to improve efficiency.

4. Make sure the power works.

Once you clean the compressor, turn back on the power to the outdoor unit. Then, go inside so that you can make sure the entire air conditioning system is getting power. To check, set your thermostat so that it’s about five degrees higher than the current temperature in your home.

Give the AC a few minutes to kick in — don’t panic if it doesn’t come on right away. But within a few moments, you should hear the system power in. If it doesn’t, check the breaker and make sure that’s on.

If your AC still doesn’t power on, you may be dealing with an electrical issue, a broken thermostat, or potentially even low refrigerant. You should call an HVAC tech at this point. They’ll be able to address all of those issues. However, if you’re really DIY savvy, you may want to narrow down the problem a bit further by looking for blown fuses, checking the capacitor with a multimeter, and bypassing the thermostat with a jumper wire.

5. Test the cooling

If your outdoor compressor is debris-free, your indoor unit has a new filter, and your power works, it’s time to test the cooling. Once you power your system on, just wait and see if it produces cool air.

Generally, if your AC doesn’t blow cold air, you can troubleshoot it by checking the filter, looking for blockage around the condenser, or making sure the thermostat is working. However, in this case, you should have already done all of those steps. If your AC isn’t cooling your home, the culprit may be a broken condenser fan, a faulty compressor, low refrigerant levels, damaged air ducts, or other internal issues. To ensure it works when you really need it, contact an HVAC specialist for help. 

Consider an Annual Maintenance Plan

Annual maintenance is critical if you want your AC to work efficiently and last as long as possible. Rather than doing the above on your own, consider hiring an HVAC tech to look over your AC before the cooling season starts.

Professionals do all of the steps outlined above, but they also check start and relay capacitors, coil condition, fan amp motor draw, compressor winding insulation, electrical connections, fan motors, fan blades, fuses, breakers, drainage trouble, heat exchangers, flues, and vents as well as other components.

If you enroll in N.E.T.R.’s Service Partner Plan annual maintenance program, you don’t have to worry about calling to schedule every spring. Instead, we contact you to set up your pre-booked annual appointment. Additionally, you receive discounts and priority service on repairs. To get help now, contact us at N.E.T.R. Inc. today.