As the weather warms, you may start thinking about running your air conditioner to keep your home comfortable. However, if you just flip the switch on your thermostat to cool, you may end up paying more to cool your home. Consider these five critical steps to take before making the switch to running your AC for the summer.
1. Check Your Air Filter
Your air conditioner relies on its air filter to keep airborne contaminants out of the system. If contaminants were allowed to collect unrestricted in the system, they would quickly cut away at the system’s efficiency and accelerate component wear.
If you haven’t checked your air filter recently, it’s a great time to do so before switching on your AC. Many systems have a 1- or 2-inch filter which requires changing every 30-90 days, depending on the filter type and air quality. If you have a ductless air conditioner, it’ll have a washable air filter that needs cleaning once a month.
2. Replace Your Thermostat Batteries
Many thermostats have batteries to power not only the display but also send signals to start and stop the system’s cycles. That said, those batteries will not last forever. The general industry recommendation is to replace the batteries twice a year.
Be careful in selecting the kind of battery you decide to use. Specifically, it’s best to stay clear of rechargeable batteries because they deliver a lower voltage than single-use alkaline batteries. Specifically, AA alkaline batteries deliver 1.5 volts, but rechargeable AA batteries only deliver 1.2 volts. Using a lower voltage battery in your thermostat may make your system run inconsistently because the thermostat sensors won’t have enough power to run properly.
3. Inspect Your Outdoor Condensing Unit
The outdoor unit is called the condensing unit and houses the condensing coil, the compressor, and the condensing fan, among other minor parts. Before starting your air conditioner for the year, plan to inspect the unit and make sure it’s ready for use.
Of particular interest is the condition of the coil and any debris that may inhibit airflow through it. To ensure air can easily flow through the coil, clear away any debris from around it, giving at least a two-foot clearance. This includes ensuring grass is trimmed down, any debris in the housing is cleaned out, and bushes are trimmed back. Also, make sure you give the same clearance above the unit to allow heat to dissipate effectively.
While looking at your unit, also inspect it for any visible signs of damage. New dents or substantial rust may indicate problems with the internal components within the unit.
4. Inspect Your Vents
Inspect all of your vents. Pay particular attention to any covered vents and move whatever is covering them, especially furniture. Your system won’t effectively and evenly cool your space if it can’t move air. If the vents are blocked, it won’t move enough air out and will leave parts of your home warmer than others. This also means that your vents must remain open, as do doors when you don’t need them to be closed.
5. Schedule Your Spring AC Maintenance
Finally, call your trusted HVAC company to schedule your spring AC maintenance. There are a lot of small maintenance tasks that need attention to keep your system operating efficiently and reduce operational wear. A maintenance technician starts by deeply cleaning your system, including the evaporator coil and circulating fan. They will do a thorough inspection to ensure there isn’t any damage that will affect the system’s performance, such as damage to the coils.
Your maintenance technician will conduct a series of tests to make sure the entire system is running optimally. This includes testing components like the contactor and capacitor, not to mention testing the level or refrigerant in the system. Finally, they’ll inspect and tighten all mounting hardware and electrical connections to reduce excessive vibration.
For more than 40 years, Air Care Heating & Cooling has served the heat and cooling needs of homes around Shawnee. Our expert team combines heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair, and installation with indoor air quality and water heater services. Call to schedule your spring AC maintenance with one of the technicians people in the area repeatedly trust for their HVAC needs.