Spring is finally here, and that means it’s time to get your central air conditioning system ready for the hot, sticky days of summer. By taking good care of your air conditioning unit by giving it a spring tune-up, you can save a fair bit of energy and lower your cooling bill.
Some of this spring air conditioner maintenance work you can do on your own, but you’ll also have to call a professional to have a look at other things related to your AC.
Calling an air conditioning repair company can put a slight dent in your pocketbook, but it’s cheaper (and less frustrating) to have to call for an emergency repair in the middle of summer.
Just be sure to call the pros fairly early in the spring to ensure you save on electricity all summer long.
We’ll walk you through the spring air conditioner maintenance you can and should do by yourself, and what you’ll need a professional to come and tune-up.
Things You Can Do
There are quite a few things you can do to clean your air conditioner, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money or have any special skills to do them.
Just be sure to do your cleaning on a day when it is at least 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) outdoors, which is warm enough to test your AC to see if it’s working.
Let’s start with the outside first, and then move indoors in detailing what you should look at with your unit.
1. Clean the Condenser (Outside Unit)
Here’s what you can do yourself:
- Turn your air conditioner off outside first.
- Be sure to remove any covering you have over the condenser to protect it from winter. Trim back any landscaping about 60 to 90 centimetres (two to three feet) around the outdoor unit to make sure the AC can dissipate heat.
- Pull any dead leaves, grass or other debris out of the fins of the condenser. This makes sure air can flow freely into the unit.
- Using a paintbrush or other soft brush, clean the condenser fins. Be careful because you can easily bend or crush them. You can also use cleaner on them to loosen up dirt.
- If any fins are bent, you can use a fin comb that you can buy or a bent, blunt kitchen knife to straighten them
Check to see that mice or other rodents haven’t built a nest inside the unit during the winter as well.
2. Look Over the Insulation on the Refrigerant Line
Make sure the insulation on the refrigerant line is in good shape, and hasn’t deteriorated from sun exposure. You can tell the refrigerant line apart from other pipes because it will tend to be larger and made of copper. It will be insulated, but other lines won’t be.
Also check any other pipes going into your house from the unit don’t have any rust or holes in them. When you go inside your home later, you should also check the insulation on the refrigerant line for any wear and tear there, too. If your insulation is damaged, the air won’t be able to cool down as much, making your air conditioner be less efficient.
3. Make Sure the Condenser is Level
Check that the concrete pad underneath the condenser is flat. If it isn’t, be sure to prop the outdoor unit up to make sure it is level.
If the unit isn’t level, it can cause vibrations in the refrigerant line, creating holes that can allow the refrigerant to leak. Also, the refrigerant levels in the condenser won’t be even and your air conditioner won’t run efficiently, which increases your energy bill.
4. Check Your Heater Filter
At this point, you should move your cleaning and inspection inside. Once indoors, turn off your heater’s power. You should see the switch near the heater.
Pull out the heater filter and see if any dirt has built up. If it has, either replace it or, if you use a reusable filter, clean it.
What does the heater filter have to do with your AC? Air will blow through the filter when the air conditioner is on, so you’ll want to make sure that no dust or debris is finding it’s way into your cooling system.
If you’re replacing the filter, note its size or take the old one with you when buying a new one. Again, make sure the power is off when you replace it, or you’ll blow dust into the evaporator fins. Make sure the filter fits snugly, so air won’t go around it.
5. Dust the Evaporator Fins
The evaporator is inside a metal duct away from the blower. If you can get to it, clean the fins with a soft brush in the same manner you cleaned the outdoor condenser unit. This will make sure your air conditioner is able to absorb heat to cool the air down. Also be sure to check for frost on these fins, which could be sign that your refrigerant is leaking.
You can also use a mild detergent and warm water to clean the coils. Mix both items in a spray bottle and squirt the solution on the coils. Wait a few minutes for everything to soak in and loosen the debris. Reapply the solution again if the fins still aren’t clean. Then, wipe away the dirt with a soft cloth or brush.
6. Ensure Your Drain Is Clear
You’ll have a drain on the inside of your air conditioning system in your home. Be sure that it is clear. If it’s blocked, water will be able to leak inside your heater, causing damage.
Blocked drains are usually caused by algae growth. We’ll talk about what you’ll need to do if you have a blocked drain later.
7. Be Sure Your Thermostat Works
Thermostats are generally pretty reliable, but you’ll want to be sure that the device is working properly so that your home stays cool this summer. To see if your thermostat is doing its job, set your thermostat five degrees Fahrenheit cooler than you normally would. Check to see if the air conditioner turns on.
If it doesn’t, make sure another problem isn’t making the device not work as it should. Look to see that the thermostat is set to “Cool” and that the main circuit breaker for the AC is in the “On” position. If it still doesn’t work, it’s time to call in the professionals.
Things A Professional Should Do
Once you’ve taken care of all you can on your own, it’s time to call in the professional. If any of the above tasks make you uncomfortable, of course, you should alway turn to the pros first. That said, there are certain things only a trained expert should do, such as the following.
- Outdoors, a profession should oil the fan motor’s lubrication ports on the condenser unit. Otherwise, you run the risk of breaking something when you open it up or using the wrong kind of oil.
- If a lot of fins on your condenser unit are bent, a professional should take a look at it to either fix them or replace them. Same goes for the evaporator unit inside your home.
- Moving indoors, if you notice any water inside your air conditioning unit, that’s a sign of either ice or algae buildup or a leak. All are signs that your refrigerant levels are not up to snuff. Any leaks need a professional to find and fix.
- They will also need to put in any new refrigerant and wash any pipes that need cleaning. There are remedies online for cleaning pipes, but you may break the pipes when taking them out to wash them if they’re not flexible and you don’t know what you’re doing.
- If your indoor drain is blocked, that’s another problem best dealt with by the pros in case the problem is caused by a leak.
- Any oiling of the blower port will probably have to be done by a pro because the blower compartments on most heaters are so tight that a handyperson will need to remove it in order to get at it.
- An expert should clean your heater fan and its housing unit. The fan has moving parts that can pinch or cut your fingers and hands if you don’t know how to hold it properly when removing it. You may also damage wires when you go to take it out, too.
- If you’ve determined your thermostat might not be working, a professional will have to handle that and any other electronics that you have. They can make sure the wires in your thermostat are snug and connected properly, and do any other work that might be needed to test it.
Call AC Perth for Your Air Conditioner Tune-Up Today!
When it comes time for the expert professionals to do spring air conditioner maintenance on your unit, call on AC Perth. We’ll make sure your AC is working efficiently and safely, and this will help extend the life of your unit. So don’t delay until the weather really heats up. Have the peace of mind of knowing that everything is working properly today.