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Prepare Your AC For The Season
Posted: February 28, 2019 by Andy
We'll probably still see some snow for a month or two yet, but when the sun is shining, we'll also experience temperatures into the 60s and 70s - that's Ohio weather in Spring for you!
Before you go turning on your air conditioning system, though, it's important to make sure it's ready for the warm weather ahead. Your AC has been lying unused all winter and the parts that are designed to move have instead been idle, unmoving. Its mechanical parts, along with its wiring, coil, ductwork, and filter should be thoroughly inspected before adjusting your thermostat to bring cool, refreshing air into your home.
Following our steps for preparing your air conditioner for use, your system will be ready to go from the first time you turn it on, all the way through Summer and into Fall when the leaves turn.
Do a visual inspection
The beginning of your AC season preparation starts with a thorough looking-over of every system component, indoors and out. Carefully inspect each part's condition and if you spy anything that looks worn (or suspect), now is the time to replace it.
Step 1: Ductwork. Give any exposed ductwork in your home a once-over to check for potential leaks or damage. Ductwork typically runs through your attic or basement, so those are both great places to start looking. Identifying ductwork issues now will prevent cooling inefficiencies in your home later on.
Step 2: Supply and return air vents. Spending life mostly inside during the winter tends to result in some things lying around your house that aren't normally there. Or, you might have done some rearranging of your living spaces while stuck indoors. Either way, your vents may have become blocked by furniture, a bookshelf, or countless other objects. Check behind your furniture and move anything that might now be blocking airflow in your home. This will ensure that your hard-working AC system isn't putting in all that effort for no reward.
Step 3: Condensation drain line. One way your air conditioning system keeps you cool is by removing moisture from your home's air. Via the condensation process, humidity is drawn from the air and directed out of your home. The collected moisture flows out through a drain line, and it's important to keep the line clean and clear of debris. Clogs can be caused by things like algae, dirt buildup, or even an insect nest. During the warm months of the year, water drained through the line flushes these obstructions and keeps the line clear. During the winter, no water flows, and before you turn on your AC, it's essential to clear any clogs in the drain line manually.
Step 4: Outdoor condenser unit. The air condenser is the most important part of your AC system. As such, it must be well-maintained for everything to run smoothly. During your preseason inspection, look all around the unit for any obstructions, damage, or other issues. Clear off leaves and other debris that could block airflow. Once cleared, look over all sides of the condenser for damage that may have occurred over the winter and could adversely affect its performance.
Step 5: Refrigerant lines. These lines connect the outdoor air condenser to your system's indoor evaporator coil. Inside each of these lines are cooled gasses or warm liquids. The gasses pass through a thick pipe, typically insulated copper. The warm liquids travel through an exposed copper pipe. Visually inspect these lines for leaks or damage and be sure also to check the condition of the insulation. If there are any cracks or tears, remove and replace the insulation, so there is no efficiency lost keeping those gasses cool. If you see damage to the pipes themselves, call us immediately to have these pipes repaired or replaced.
Step 6: Electrical wiring. The final step in your air conditioning system inspection is to check its wiring. Over time, the coating on the electrical wires can become brittle, leading to cracks and exposure. Exposed wires can develop shorts and other electrical issues. Additionally, if the wiring is near moisture, check for corrosion, as it will cause the wires to fail prematurely.
Replace your air filter
Now that your visual inspection is complete, the next task is to replace your air filter. This is an ideal way to ensure you are starting the warm season with your system operating at 100%. It also prevents any dust or dirt that built up in your ductwork over the winter from getting into your AC system and causing damage. A clean air filter also breathes better than a dirty one, resulting in up to 15% decrease in energy consumption and costs.
Get a professional AC tune-up
If you discovered any issues during your inspection, or you're just unsure of what to look for, your best bet is to call a professional. Our expert technicians will ensure that your system runs as efficiently and reliably as possible all summer long. Our tune-up service includes:
- Cleaning your condenser unit
- Refrigerant level and compressor performance check
- A review of all electrical wiring and connections for wear
- And more!
Turn on your thermostat
Your AC system has now been inspected, cleaned, and ready to power on, so your next stop is the thermostat. It's your system's control center and it lets you set your home's temperature to whatever level you desire. Without it, your system would not function.
Switch your thermostat to cooling mode to get started and set it to your desired temperature. Once the thermostat indicates that the system should be on, head outside to make sure the fan in your condenser unit is spinning smoothly and isn't making unusual sounds. After running for 10 to 15 minutes, you should start to feel cool air coming from your vents and into your home.
To get the most efficiency from your HVAC system this summer and beyond, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. These thermostats are truly "set and forget" and will save you 33% or more on your energy costs.
Enjoy a comfortable summer!
After following these steps, you can be sure that you can depend on your air conditioning system all summer long. Be diligent when visually inspecting all components, replacing your air filter, and cleaning ducts and piping. Your reward will be a comfortable home, no matter the temperature outside!
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