In all seriousness, it’s actually not too early to start thinking about another hot and humid Fox River Valley summer. Sure, you’ll enjoy the rising temperature for a little while. But, soon enough you’ll want to cool off.
How do you make sure your air conditioner is up to the task?
You can get ahead of the game by scheduling your AC service before summer. That’s right, the best time to prep your air conditioner for the warm weather is well before it gets here.
This way, you’re not on a waitlist when business picks up. And, you’ll have peace of mind the first time you turn on your air conditioner.
imately, you’ll need a certified HVAC tech to come out. Even if you’re handy, there are still some things that require professional equipment and experience.
lus, if your unit’s under warranty, you probably need to keep it maintained by a certified tech. You run the risk of voiding it if you try working on it yourself.
But, you can get started with a few items before you schedule a tune-up. Let’s look at what you should do on your own. Then, we’ll let you know what to expect when a tech looks it over.
This is an easy one you can do yourself. It’s also something people seem to forget. By now, most folks know to change the air filter on their furnace. But, the one for an air conditioner flies under the radar.
Before we get confused: If you have central heating and central air, the same filter works for the furnace and ac. If you use radiators, for instance, and central air, then it’s separate.
Either way, you need to change it out before you begin using your HVAC system again. Remember, this is the screen that catches all the dust, debris, allergens and other particles you don’t want to breathe in.
To do this, all you have to do is find where the filter is located. From there, slide out the old one and slide in the new one. Each one only costs around $10-$20.
This is a quick, easy step toward great cooling and lowers energy bills all summer.
Before you start using your air conditioner, make sure the space around the outdoor condenser is clean. It’s common for leaves, lawn clippings or even trash to build up during the months you’re not using it.
All that junk can become a problem. It bogs down the system and affects your air quality. As organic matter breaks down, it breeds bacteria and other particles. You don’t want that stuff in the air that eventually circulates through your house.
This is really just as easy as sweeping or raking around the unit. It’s even easier if you invested in a cover for the condenser. That way, nothing got inside the unit.
Even still, take a peek inside. You should be able to see in past the guard and fan. If there’s trash or even signs of animals nesting, don’t turn on your AC just yet! Call a professional and have them clean it out properly.
In fact, you should call your tech anyway before you start using the unit. There’s a lot that goes into maintaining it.
Here are just a few:
An essential part of your air conditioning tune-up is making sure there are no blockages or leaks in your system. Either one of these makes your system less efficient.
When something’s blocking the way, your cooling system uses more energy to push air past it -- if it can get past it at all. Meanwhile, if you’re losing cooling and air pressure then there’s a hole or break somewhere in the line.
Next are the fins and coils on the outdoor condenser. You can see the fins easily. It’s the outside of the unit that looks like a grill. That’s connected to the coil.
These components help move heat away from the air conditioner so it can work better. But, it’s common for the fins to bend and the coil to get dirty and clogged over time. When this happens, the unit can’t cool your house nearly as well.
Once that happens, you’ll want a pro to get in there and fix them. It’s not too difficult, but these are delicate parts. You could end up making things worse if you’re not careful.
Last on the list here are the refrigerant levels. That’s the chemical responsible for absorbing and releasing heat. You want to make sure there’s enough in your system.
Ideally, your condenser came with enough to last as long as the unit itself. But, that’s not always the case. If there’s a leak, you may run low. The system won’t work correctly.
Now, beware the tech who shows up, charges the system and leaves. They’ve just gotten one over on you: If it really was low, then they didn’t actually fix the leak that caused this. It’s just going to happen again.
Fortunately, going with a reliable company with a good reputation means avoiding scams like that.
OK, here’s one more thing you can do yourself. But, remember: if it doesn’t go well, don’t go poking around inside the unit! That’s a good way to void a warranty or get yourself hurt.
Anyway, what you want to do is wait for a day when it hits 80 degrees outside. Then, let the air conditioner run for about 15 minutes.
Once it runs that long, put a thermometer near the supply register that’s closest to the unit. The supply register is the vent blowing cold air. Leave the thermometer there for five minutes, then check the reading.
Next, take the same reading near a return vent. This is the vent drawing air from your home. You shouldn’t feel any cold air coming out of it. Leave the thermometer there for another five minutes.
Now, the air near the supply register should be 14 to 20 degrees cooler than near the return vent. If it’s not, there’s a problem.
Don’t worry, it could be something minor. Most times, there’s just a blockage somewhere in the system. A certified tech can root that out and take care of it pretty quickly.
But, it’s an easy way to check your system if you think there’s a problem. And, of course, if you get a tune-up ahead of time, that’s less likely to happen.
Are you ready to start prepping your AC for the warm weather? Contact us for a tune-up.