Spring may not be in the air yet, but it’s on the way and, soon enough, people will be turning on their home air conditioning. Most people are still too busy keeping warm to think about their home’s cooling systems but now is the best time to make sure that air conditioning units are running effectively for the hot months ahead.
We try to focus on this routine once a year and every year. Of course, homeowners could contract a professional to check their air conditioning and pay the price. Any electrical concerns do need to be seen to by a certified technician. But there are simple checks and tasks that people can do themselves to save time and money while keeping their unit running at it’s best.
1. Make sure all panel covers are in place-
The panels which cover the electrical components and connections of the A/C unit protect both the unit and its users. During the winter, the weight of snow or strong winds can damage or displace these covers. If you notice missing or damaged covers, it’s essential that you contract a certified technician to assess it before you start the system.
2. Remove any winter protection lids, coil blankets, and condenser covers-
Many air conditioning systems have outdoor coil covers and blankets to protect from freezing damage during winter. It is important to remove these covers before running the A/C because the insulation can damage the system. Many people forget this step at the end of winter and pay the price.
3. Inspect pipe insulation and repair or replace any damaged sections-
Check the insulation on the big copper pipe of the outdoor unit. Only the large copper line requires insulation. This pipe supplies cool refrigerant to the compressor. If the insulation is damaged it can hinder the cooling of the outdoor unit, damaging the system and causing energy waste. Insulation can be damaged by trapped water freezing, sun rot and animals. The copper pipe should be clearly labeled with a size and you can purchase replacement insulation in that size from your local hardware store.
4. Check outdoor coil for debris-
Over the winter months, vegetation and other debris can build up around the outdoor coil of your A/C unit and cause it to run inefficiently. Some people try to hide their air conditioning unit with shrubs, gardens or mulch but this can be risky as it can block essential vents and damage the system. Make sure that the area around the outdoor part of your system is as clear as possible to maximize airflow.
1. Change air filters-
Air filters work hard and it is important that they are replaced periodically. Before the hot season begins, check the manufacturer’s manual for your unit and replace the indoor air filters. This is usually a simple process which can be completed without professional assistance and parts are generally available in hardware stores.
2. Inspect the drainage hose for blockages-
The air conditioning process involves condensation and effective water drainage is essential for effective cooling. Ensure that the large plastic drainage pipe is free of blockages so that effective liquid drainage is possible.
3. Clean supply vents and grills-
No matter how clean a home is, dust and debris will collect in the vents and grills of the air conditioning unit, causing blockages and preventing effective airflow. A vacuum cleaner is an excellent tool for cleaning vents and grills or microfiber cloths can help to remove fine dust.
Turn it on and check that everything’s working as it should.
Once these tasks have been performed, you’re ready to check that the A/C unit is working effectively. Turn it on and check that, after a few minutes, cool air is flowing from the indoor vents. Check again at two-hour intervals throughout the day. If there is no airflow, or if the air is warm, turn the unit off immediately and work through the steps again. If there is still a problem, it’s best to call a certified technician for a professional diagnosis and repairs.
There are many aspects of air conditioning maintenance that can be performed by homeowners at little or no cost. Making sure that covers are intact, insulation is effective, vents are clean and drainage flows freely will ensure that your unit is running at its best and can potentially save thousands of dollars in professional services. However, if the unit does not run smoothly after working through these steps, or an electrical problem is apparent, professional assistance is the best course of action.