During the colder months, our air conditioning systems lie dormant until summer arrives. At this time, many people believe they can simply turn their AC system on, and it will work perfectly. If you’re very lucky, this may be the case, but in reality, your air conditioner may need a little help to prepare it for the hotter months ahead. An air conditioner system works hard, and it’s important to make sure that it can work effectively and efficiently. In this article, we will look at how you can get your AC system ready for summer.
A Brief Primer on AC System Terminology
There are some AC system terms that you need to understand before you follow the steps below. Firstly, your air conditioning controls the absolute temperature, and humidity and moisture is removed by condensation. Secondly, The compressor located in the outdoor unit changes the refrigerant to high pressure, so that it can remove the heat from your home. The condenser looks like a radiator. This is where the gathered heat is changed from a gas to a liquid form. An evaporator is a key component that changes liquid refrigerant to a gas, as heat is absorbed from the air in your home. Finally, a filter removes foreign particulates from the refrigerant. They are often installed in series along a liquid line at the top end of the AC system. An AC system has an indoor and outdoor unit; they must work in harmony to remove the heat from your home.
8 Steps to Prepare Your Indoor Cooling Equipment
- Set the Thermostat
Place the thermostat in the “Off” position, turn the temperature up to around 80º and then check the following steps to ensure everything is working correctly.
- Check the Thermostat
What is the general condition of your thermostat? Does it look old, damaged, and outdated? Installing a new digital or smart thermostat will make your air conditioning system easier to use and more efficient.
- Exposed Ductwork
Take a look at any sections of exposed ductwork in your home, if there are signs of wear or crack the treated air could escape. This will lead to a lack of cooling efficiency and higher bills.
- Check the Vents
The air vents in each room need to be clear. Any items such as furniture, toys, and drapes need to be moved. If the vent is closed, it needs to be opened at least partially to maintain airflow throughout the system.
- Check the Drainline
If you look at the indoor coil, you will find a drain line. This is usually located above the furnace, and it is prone to blockages. Dirt and dust collected by your indoor coil will gather in the line, and moisture turns it into a clog that prevents drainage. If the water cannot drain away, it backs up the drain line and onto your floor, where it can cause water damage. Flushing a cup of chlorine bleach into the drain line and rinsing it will a gallon of clean water should keep the line clear for an entire summer. If you cannot get the drain line clear, contact a local HVAC specialist for help.
- Change the Air Filter
The air filter in your AC system should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations or every 3 months if you’re not sure. If you cannot remember when it was last changed, it’s a good idea to change it anyway. It’s always a good idea to change the air filter at the beginning of each cooling or heating season.
- Check the Circuits
Take a look at the circuits to ensure that the electrical connections are working correctly.
- Restore Power
Ensure that the power switch is in the “On” position at your HVAC unit.
4 Steps to Prepare Your Outdoor Cooling Equipment
- Inspect the Condenser
The outdoor condenser unit must be clean and clear of blockages, vines, leaves, debris, and other materials. No items should be stack around the unit because they can affect the internal components and lower performance. If any of the panels are missing, they should be replaced because they protect the electrical connections and components.
- Check the Refrigerant Lines
The refrigerant lines should be insulated and free from cracks and breaks where the refrigerant can escape. If the lines are not insulated, the efficiency will be compromised, and any repairs should be carried out by a local HVAC specialist.
- Check the Wiring
Visually check the wiring for signs of wear or scorching that could indicate a short or bad connection. If you see anything that looks wrong, contact an HVAC specialist before you start your AC system.
- Check the AC System Age
Many people have their air conditioners for years without thinking about them. So, it may come as a surprise when they check how long they have had the system. Even if an air conditioner is well maintained, it will lose efficiency over time and eventually, it will wear out entirely. An air conditioner that is 10 years old that is replaced with a new energy efficient unit could save the homeowner as much as 40% on their energy costs each year.
Steps to Test Your AC System
Now that you’ve checked the indoor and outdoor units, it is time to test the AC system.
- Turn the System “On”
First, lower the thermostat temperature to the level that you want and turn “On” the air conditioning system.
- Check the Fan
Go back outside to the outdoor unit and take a listen to the condenser fan. You should hear it running smoothly, and the top of the unit should be emitting warm air that is being removed from your home.
- Let the System Run
Allow the AC system to run for around 10-15 minutes or longer until you feel the indoor temperature drop to the desired level set on the thermostat.
If the AC system is working as intended, you’re ready for summer.
It’s advisable to get regular maintenance on your HVAC equipment at the start of each cooling and heating season. This will ensure performance and improve the energy efficiency, which will save you money. Contact your local HVAC specialist to schedule a service visit today.