Early A/C Maintenance Tips
Tacoma might be several weeks away from real spring weather, but now is a good time to make sure that your air conditioner is running efficiently for summer.
While the cold rain is pouring intermittently outside this weekend, an ambitious homeowner might take a few hours to make sure their A/C unit is ready for use. A typical Washington winter with freezing temps and snow can greatly affect your unit’s start-up. Whether it’s an outdoor or indoor unit, early DIY maintenance can keep it running efficiently – and help avoid high utility and repair bills.
Ensure your home is cool and comfortable all summer with these practical A/C maintenance tips.
Indoor A/C Maintenance
- Change Air Filter – Probably one of the most important (and easiest) maintenance procedures that you can do on your own is change the filter. After several months of inactivity the filter has most likely accumulated some dust and dirt. During the summer when your unit is running daily, it is best to change it out every 30 days.
- Check Supply Vents and Return Grills – Examine both the supply and return air grills and vents to ensure they are open – and clean from debris. If there is a fair amount of dust accumulation, remove them and simply clean with a damp cloth. Clean vents and grills will help ensure better system efficiency and keep utility bills down.
- Check Coil Drainage Hose – This component (also referred to as the “condensate line)” is usually made of plastic and helps drain the condensation gathered on a tray from the coil. If it is damaged or dislodged, the tray will fill up and flood the unit which could cause structural damage. Make sure that the line is firmly attached and in running condition.
- Turn it On – The easiest test to see how your indoor A/C is running is to turn it on. First, make sure that you can feel cold air coming through the registers. If the air isn’t cool, or hasn’t cooled within a couple of minutes, there is a problem. Turn off the system and check the vents and hose again. Never leave a unit running if it is not functioning properly. Call a professional technician and have them perform a thorough diagnostic.
Outdoor A/C Maintenance
- Shut Off Power – Turn off the power at the appliance shutoff box. This is usually located within sight of the unit. Some designs simply have a pull out cord, some have a handle mechanism that must be pulled down, and some require the removal of a fuse. If you can’t find the power source, turn the power off at the circuit breaker.
- Check Outdoor Coil – If you have a yard with several trees or plant life there’s a good chance that debris has blown into or against the coil. AC coils transfer heat and any obstructions can affect the performance of the unit (or keep it from running entirely). You’ll want to remove any obstructions.
- Keep A/C Area Free – You will definitely want to keep any plants or bushes away from your outside unit. There should be at least a 24 inch space around the A/C and a 36 inch space above it. Prune any nearby branches to keep leaves or debris from harming it.
- Inspect Outdoor Unit Panels – The unit panels enclose and secure the electrical connections. It is important that they are in place to protect the system. If a panel is misaligned or missing, this could also affect the performance and ultimately damage the equipment.
- Check Pipe Insulation – The insulation that covers the suction line (the larger copper pipe) should not be torn or damaged. The suction line supplies refrigerant back to the compressor in the outdoor unit. If it has damaged insulation, it could cause a loss of required cooling (which would damage the unit). There are several causes for damaged insulation including ice, sun rot, and animals. Replace the insulation before turning on the unit.
Not all units are the same – and some might obviously require different methods of maintenance. If your unit doesn’t fit within the framework of the models described, you should call a professional A/C tech to have it serviced. If it’s an older model (more than 10 years), it might need to be replaced.
We service many different models and brands of air conditioning units. Give us a call today at 253-292-3995 and ask us about our heating and cooling maintenance plan!