Well, it's that time of year again, folks. With Spring in full swing now, we're seeing a return of sunny days and warmer temperatures. It's important to stay on top of HVAC maintenance and fix any potential problems with your air conditioning unit before the sweltering heat of Summer hits and makes cool indoor air a necessity.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to spot a problem with your air conditioning unit is to hire a home inspector or local HVAC company to take a look at it. They can pinpoint any potential problems and guide you to solutions and/or professionals who can repair and service the unit. Additionally, if you'd rather not hassle with maintenance yourself, most HVAC companies offer a maintenance service in which they take care of and schedule all annual maintenance tasks for a fee.
For those of you who enjoy a good DIY project and want to take care of HVAC maintenance yourself, the following checklist should get you started!
SERVICE THE INTERIOR UNIT (Evaporator and Blower)
*First, make sure to check the unit's air filter on a monthly basis and replace if it is dirty. The air filter is very important, not only to the quality of your indoor air, but also to the efficiency of your HVAC unit. The filter removes dirt and dust from the air, so air flow through the unit slows as the filter becomes clogged and dirty.
*Next, make sure to check the condition of the unit's fan belt (if it has one) at least once a year. To do this, turn the power off, remove the front cover, and visually inspect the belt. It should fit tightly without sagging and should be free of any cracks or tears.
*When completing your HVAC maintenance, it is also important to clean the unit's evaporator coil. You'll need to locate the evaporator coil door, open it, and then use a soft-bristle brush to dust off the coil. After doing this, you'll want to spray the coil with a no-rinse coil cleaner - available at any hardware or home-improvement store. As a final step, you can clean the drain pan with hot water, soap, and a bit of bleach to remove the cleaner and any residual dirt.
SERVICE THE EXTERIOR UNIT (Condenser Coil and Compressor)
*Just like anything else outside your home, your air conditioning unit collects dust, dirt, and debris throughout the year, so it's important to give it a good cleaning on an annual basis. To do so, first make sure to turn off all power to the unit. Then, remove the fan cage on the top of the unit and clean all leaves and debris from inside the unit manually or with the help of a wet/dry vacuum. After cleaning the interior, use the brush attachment of your vacuum to clean any dirt off of the outside fins of the unit. Then, use a garden hose to better clean the fins. Position your hose inside the unit and gently spray all of the fins. Finally, using a rake, remove all leaves, limbs, and debris sitting around the outside of the air conditioning unit.
*As the ground settles over time, the exterior unit can become out-of-level. Believe it or not, this can affect the efficiency of the unit and can cause the condenser to wear out prematurely. As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to check your unit periodically to make sure it is level; in the event that it is not, you can easily remedy this problem using shins from your local hardware store.
There you have it, folks! If you take the time to perform this simple maintenance routine on your air conditioning unit at least once a year (preferably before the arrival of Summer), it is guaranteed to run more efficiently and keep you cool as a cucumber all Summer long.