Summer heat isn’t all bad — beach trips with the family, ice cream on a regular basis, and loose, comfortable clothing all day long. Unfortunately, though, the summer heat can also reach extremely high temperatures on some days. And while your home can give you a temporary shelter where you can wait out the hot hours of the day, indoor temperatures can also reach uncomfortable highs.
Make sure you’re prepared by putting your air conditioner through the checklist below. It’s best to identify the issues before temperatures start to rise. You don’t want your AC breaking down on you in the middle of a heatwave with the next available appointment from an HVAC professional being weeks from today. Here are nine things to help you prepare your air conditioner unit for the sweltering summertime heat.
1. Turn Off Your AC Power
Switch off the circuit breaker prior to doing any labor on your AC. You’ll also want to switch off the power that’s going to your condenser through the service panel. Depending on what AC unit or model you have, you may also find a 240-volt weatherproof disconnect box situated near the AC. This will usually hold a lever or fuse that completely closes the condenser. Make sure you turn it off as well.
2. Check Your Filters
You can either replace or clean your AC filters, depending on how heavily soiled it is. For light dust accumulation, you can often clear it using a soft brush or vacuum cleaner. Filters that are heavily clogged or damaged may require replacement, especially if you haven’t replaced them for a couple of years now. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to replace your AC unit’s filters at least twice a year. Keeping a dusty filter inside your AC will result in dust particles being recirculated throughout your home, which may lead to allergic reactions or more serious illnesses.
3. Check the Condenser Coils
Your AC’s condenser coil and fan are exposed 365 days a year to the outside elements. Naturally, it’ll accumulate dust and debris over time, especially if you forget to cover it during the wintertime. The condenser unit can be found outside. It is a large fan encased in a metal box with grille-style sides. Start cleaning the area surrounding the coils by picking up large debris or vacuuming hard-to-reach spots. You can then use a condenser coil cleaning solution that can soften up solid debris so you can wipe it off.
4. Check the Condenser Fins
Your condenser unit’s fins are used to assist in dispersing hot air away from the house. These thin metal lines can get easily bent out of place, which leads to airflow obstruction. See if you can straighten it out with a brush. If not, you can purchase a fin comb to correct any misalignment. Avoid cleaning the fins with a pressure washer as this can also lead to more misalignment.
5. Check the Evaporator Coil
Equally as important as the condenser coil, the evaporator coil is found on the part of your AC unit that’s inside the house. The coil is responsible for converting the hot air into cool air before it is distributed to your home. Clean the evaporator coil by removing the screws or fasteners that are securing the access panel. With the evaporator coil within reach, you can use either a soft brush, compressed air, or a specialized coil cleaner to clean it. The latter comes as the easiest solution as it only requires you to pour the cleaner into the coil. The solution foams up, breaks down, and then drains away, dissolving into the AC’s drain pan.
6. Check the Refrigerant Lines
Refrigerant lines or tubes extend from your AC’s evaporator to the condenser unit outside. These tubes are often wrapped in foam insulation that normally wears out over time. If the insulation material is frayed, you’ll want to get new sleeves for it. You may also use foam insulation tape if sleeves are unavailable. If the lines aren’t frayed but you suspect a blockage inside, remove the blockage by doing a nitrogen pre- and post-flush. These solvents can be bought at your local home improvement store.
7. Check the Vents
Your air conditioner’s performance can also be greatly affected by clogged or soiled vents. Although it’s best to leave a comprehensive air duct cleaning to certified and experienced HVAC technicians, like Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning, there are available DIY solutions to boost your vent’s efficiency. Check your vent for debris accumulation, which can be in the form of dust, pet hair, plastic, and other materials. When cleaning your air vents, you’ll want to make sure it’s completely open. In some cases, homeowners will do work on their AC vents while they’re partially or fully closed.
8. Maximize Cold Airflow
In many cases, the root cause of an air conditioner malfunctioning is overuse. Operating your AC unit at max capacity 24/7 puts the machine at risk of a mechanical breakdown. In addition, it also results in higher utility costs. You’ll want to limit your use of your air conditioner during hours when it’s the hottest. Once it starts to cool down, use the lingering cold air indoors instead. You can also switch to ceiling or standing fans once temperatures start to drop. Avoid opening your doors and windows when your AC is turned on to prevent the cold air from escaping.
9. Check the Thermostat
Your AC’s thermostat is the user interface on which you control your HVAC system. It lets you set how long the AC should run via a predetermined indoor temperature. Once that temperature is reached, the AC unit shuts down. Your thermostat, like any other piece of technology, becomes outdated or starts to become glitchy as it nears the end of its lifespan. You’ll want to switch to a new programmable thermostat if you notice any irregularities while your AC is running. This includes your AC unit suddenly shutting down, regular short-cycling instances, and target room temperatures never being reached.
Get Routine Maintenance at Least Once a Year
Perhaps the best way to ensure that your air conditioner is in tip-top shape is to bring in an HVAC professional to do the inspection. A professional like those at Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning can perform a thorough assessment of all components of your HVAC system to give you a clearer picture of what’s under the hood. For years, we’ve helped residential and commercial customers in the San Marcos, CA, area and surrounding neighborhoods get quality yet affordable HVAC services.
In addition to cooling maintenance, our trained, certified, and insured technicians also offer indoor air quality audits and solutions, heat pump installations and repairs, and heating and AC unit installation, repair, and maintenance services. We also sell HVAC products, including air conditioners, heat pumps, smart thermostats, and furnaces, from trusted brands. Give us a call today or request service through our website. We look forward to serving your home comfort needs.