As spring comes to an end and we start to enter the warmer temperatures of summer, soon it is going to be time to start running your air conditioning unit to keep your home feeling comfortable. After sitting unused during the winter months, many air conditioners need a bit of TLC to get back up and running at peak operation. Getting ahead on your air conditioner maintenance means fewer disruptions during its use and optimizing its ability to keep your home cool and comfortable all summer.
Before conducting any work on your air conditioning unit, it is crucial that you shut off the power circuit for the unit – and the furnace if it has a separate switch. After shutoff, it is recommended that you wait for a half-hour or more for all electricity to dissipate. Do not begin conducting any air conditioner maintenance until you are sure the power has been completely shut off. While there are many air conditioning maintenance tasks that you can take on as a homeowner, any repairs or maintenance done on the more complex components, such as the sealed refrigeration systems, should not be taken on yourself and require the work of a trained HVAC technician. As always, if you are unsure, contact a professional!
Cleaning is Key
Air conditioning units have many different components, many of which require routine cleaning. The most fundamental air conditioner maintenance task is cleaning the air filter. The air filter does exactly what it sounds like: it filters your air, reducing the number of allergens, dust, and even mold forced into your home. Some air filters are disposable and require full replacement, but more modern systems typically have reusable filters that can be cleaned and used again. Cleaning your air filter also improves the efficiency of your air conditioner, because a dirty air filter forces the system to work harder to cool the space, doing harm to your air conditioning unit and driving up utility costs.
Cleaning your air filter is quite simple. After locating it, begin by taking a vacuum or dusting cloth – microfiber works best – and cleaning the exterior vents and top layer of buildup to reduce the amount of loose debris, making the rest of the cleaning process less messy. You should then remove the filter and gently run it under running water to rinse it thoroughly. We recommend doing this outdoors to help with cleanup.
For a deeper clean, you can soak your air filter in a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water for about an hour before rinsing it again and letting it dry, which is recommended for pre-summer maintenance. Once dry, you can put your air filter back into the unit and resume using your air conditioner.
Aside from your air filter, there are several other air conditioner maintenance tasks that you should complete before summer to optimize your unit’s operation. If you go outside and look at your air conditioner, you will notice a large fan – likely on the top – which works to force air through the condenser, allowing the cool air to flow through your home’s duct system. During winter, the best thing to do for your air conditioner’s condenser is to cover the top grates and fan to prevent debris from getting lodged inside the fan and coils, but if that is not the case then you will want to make sure you clean your air conditioner’s condenser before you begin summer use.
Cleaning the air condenser on your air conditioning system is a bit more complicated than the air filter but is still a part of air conditioner maintenance that you can do yourself. First off, you will need to take off the grill and panels protecting the fan and coils, making sure not to pull on or remove any of the wires running to the fan. Dislodge any debris clinging to the fan blades, and then dust it off with a microfiber cloth. Then, clear out any debris located inside – leaves, pine needles, bugs, etc. – and use a coil brush or a soft vacuum brush to clear out the smaller dust and residue.
For a deeper clean on your air conditioner condenser – which we especially recommend when preparing your unit for summer – you can use AC coil-safe cleaner and water to spot-clean tough buildup on the condenser’s coils. When using water and cleaner on the inside of your air conditioning unit, it is important to avoid getting cleaner or water on the fan and its motor, or any of the other electrical components. Avoid soaking these areas by using minimal water with a controlled stream and covering electrical components with plastic garbage bags or something similar. After this, ensure that all water, mud, and debris has been cleared out and that there is no water pooling inside the unit. Then, take a microfiber cloth to dry up any missed spots. Lastly, put the condenser, fan, grates, and paneling back onto the air conditioning unit and enjoy getting the most out of its operation.
Aside from cleaning, a big part of any pre-summer air conditioner maintenance routine is inspecting and testing the system’s operation. We recommend cleaning your air conditioner filter, fan, and condenser before testing your air conditioning system. While cleaning, you should conduct a complete system inspection that closely covers the:
- Condenser and coils
- Refrigerant line sets – both liquid and suction
- Air filter
After conducting a complete inspection of your air conditioning unit and executing any cleaning or maintenance on the system, you should test your system to make sure that it is running properly. Testing your air conditioning system before it is needed can save you a lot of time and stress, because it helps you ensure that your air conditioner will be up and running when you need it this summer.
When in Doubt, Call a Professional
Air conditioning maintenance can seem complicated, but there are many different tasks that you can do yourself. However, because air conditioning systems are complex and can be dangerous when not worked on correctly, it is best to consult a professional when coming across anything you are unfamiliar with. If at any point you come across damage to your system – from the elements, rodents, age, etc. – then you should contact your local heating and plumbing professionals to handle the repairs. Staying up-to-date on your seasonal air conditioning maintenance increases its overall efficiency and improves the air quality in your home, keeping your space cool and comfortable all summer long.
If you begin your summer air conditioning maintenance and preparation only to find that your unit has become inoperable or has reached the end of its life, now is the time to make the switch to a more budget and eco-friendly cooling system such as a sleek and efficient Mitsubishi electric ductless mini split. These ductless systems have revolutionized the way you cool your home and maximize efficiency by only cooling rooms and spaces that are used or inhabited. These Mitsubishi ductless mini splits are easily installed by a professional and can end up saving you big when it comes to utility costs this summer.
If you are looking to maximize your air conditioner this summer, explore our helpful tips to save on your air conditioning costs this summer.
About Daigle Plumbing, Heating & Cooling
Founded over 40 years ago, Daigle Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is family-owned and operated by the Daigle family. We are proud to provide quality, dependable plumbing, heating, and cooling services for our customers in Derry, NH, and the surrounding areas. Daigle Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is your partner for all your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs. Call us today at 603-434-6353 for a free estimate.