It may still be just barely spring, but summer is right around the corner. For a lot of homeowners, that means flipping the heat to air conditioning, and, potentially, discovering that their air conditioner isn’t working properly. This is why it’s so important to check your air conditioning system now, before you really need it. Not only will you be able to beat the rush for repairs, you’ll also get extra time to clean and prep your unit so it can perform at its very best all summer long. So when – and how – should you get that A/C ready for summer?
Now Is The Time for A/C Prepping
You can run a simple check on your air conditioner any time the weather is above about 50 degrees or so. You don’t need to leave it on all day, just long enough to make sure it’s blowing cold and there aren’t any weird noises or smells coming out of the outdoor unit. If you try this when it’s too cold outside, some units will freeze up, others may simply refuse to kick on at all, and both of these situations may lead to your calling out a repairman for absolutely no reason. But it’s also important to not wait too long to check your unit for problems, since HVAC experts get booked pretty solid as soon as it starts to heat up. Unless you really love waiting for service, check your unit when the days start to warm, but aren’t unbearably hot. You should be able to find someone to make a repair in a reasonable time if you beat the rush.
How to Prepare Your Air Conditioner for Summer
Although much of what it takes to repair an air conditioner unit requires a licensed expert, there are plenty of things a homeowner can do on their own to get their system ready. Don’t ever take covers off of HVAC equipment without specific training, but here are some things you can do right now:
- Trim the weeds. Weeds growing into and close to your outside air conditioner unit can interrupt the air flow that makes it possible for your unit to work efficiently. With the breaker turned off, remove any vines that have climbed inside, trim any weeds growing around the unit, and take advantage of this time to spray the weeds within a foot of the unit with a hearty weedkiller.
- Rinse the condenser unit. The condenser is that unit that sits outside and hums along during the summer. If you look closely, you can see that the main part of the equipment is a huge bank of tiny metal fins set inside a metal cage. These fins are how the condenser removes heat from inside your home, so it’s really important to keep them clean and exposed to the open air. It’s an easy process to clean them, though it can be time consuming. Simply hose the entire unit down, both inside and out, until the water running out of the unit no longer has dirt or grit in it.
- Check your condensation line. Another pain point for air conditioners can be the condensation line. Even though you may use this when your heater is running, a great deal more humidity is removed from room air during the warmer seasons, so a problem may not be glaringly obvious through the winter. You’ll find an access at or near your furnace that will allow you to run a little bit of vinegar or bleach through the line to destroy algae and mildew that can block up the works.
- Clean your filters. You should be cleaning or replacing your filters at least once every three months, but sometimes those things slip a bit during the winter. Now is the time to get back into better habits. Check your filter and if there’s any discoloration or visible dirt, clean or discard it, depending on the type you have. Repeat this monthly through the end of the summer for optimal air flow to your unit.