What to Do Before Turning on Your Air Conditioner for the First Time this Summer
Before hot weather arrives, here are a few steps you should take to guarantee your air conditioner will be ready to run at full efficiency when you need it this Summer:
Outside the Home: Preparing the Condenser
- If you used a cover on your outdoor condenser unit to protect it from the snow over the winter, remove it before you start the air conditioner.
- If no cover was used, clean off any and all debris that may have fallen onto the condenser. Next, remove the grill over the fan to check for any debris that may have fallen inside the unit.
- With a soft brush attachment, vacuum the blades of the fan before reinstalling the grill, and vacuum out the bottom of the condenser box as well. If the blades are covered with grease or grime, you can use a soapy solution and a rag to wipe them off.
- Remove the side and top panels on the condenser to access the condenser coils. Clean them thoroughly with a soft brush, or wash them off with a hose, or wipe them clean with a special condenser cleaning fluid that can be obtained from any HVAC dealer or home improvement store.
- Make sure the area around the condenser is clear of all objects or vining plants, within a distance of at least three feet on all sides. When the AC is in operation air should flow freely all around the perimeter of the condenser.
- If there is a power switch on the condenser, turn it to the ‘on’ position (you should also check the circuit breaker to make sure the power is on there).
- Switch the thermostat manually from ‘heat’ to ‘cool.’ If you have a smart thermostat, reprogram it to reflect the coming changes of season. Check the battery on the thermostat to makes sure it is still working, or simply change it if you have not done so within the previous 6-9 months.
- Clean the dust off the vents in each room throughout the house. If you can see dust has collected inside the vents in the ductwork, vacuum it out with a soft brush attachment.
- Replace the HVAC air filter. Even if the filter doesn’t look overly dirty, it is always a good idea to get a new filter at the beginning of each heating or cooling season. In general filters should be changed every three months, so that schedule can be coordinated to make sure you install a new one at these important times. While you don’t have to buy the most expensive filters on the market, DO NOT use cheap fiberglass filters. They will rapidly become dirty and will not work particularly well even when they’re new.
Home maintenance is important, but there are certain matters you should leave to the professionals.
Our trained HVAC professionals can inspect your coolant lines for leaks, replenish your supply of coolant if it is low, check all your electrical connections, and inspect your ductwork to see if it needs to be cleaned or repaired. After these tests are completed, we will turn the system on to make sure everything is top working order.
When summer comes, your air conditioner is a vital asset in your fight to stay cool, calm and collected. But you should never take the health of your air conditioner for granted.