When the summertime heat strikes again, you need to be ready with your centralized air conditioning system. Part of ensuring that your system is ready to undergo the rough summer months ahead is performing regular maintenance and cleaning on your system. If you’ve never dealt with prepping your air conditioner for summertime before, it’s important that you follow the strategy that we’re going to go over below.
DIY and Professional Annual Maintenance
At the start of every spring, you want to set aside some time to prep your air conditioning unit for the summer months ahead. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, there are a lot of preventive maintenance tasks that you can do yourself instead of paying a professional. However, it’s essential to realize that you still need to call a professional to do annual maintenance on your air conditioning system. This is because they have specialized equipment and knowledge that you do not.
Change Your AC Filter
One of the easiest places to start to prep your AC unit for the summer is to change the air filter that’s in it. Depending on the specific model unit that you have, your AC filter may be in a number of different places. It’s best to consult a professional or your owner’s manual to identify where your AC filter is at. You’ll simply need to remove the existing filter and replace it with a new filter of the same model number.
You have a few different options when it comes to purchasing a new AC filter for your system. These include fiberglass filters, washable filters, pleated filters, and HEPA filters. If you’re looking for the best indoor air quality possible, it’s best to invest in HEPA filters. These filter out 99.97% of all airborne pollutants that are inside of your indoor air. If you don’t want to spend the money on a HEPA filter, the next step down would be the pleated filter. This offers a great filtering capacity at an affordable price.
It’s important to note that your air conditioner filter needs to be replaced every three months. If any of your family members have severe allergies or an upper respiratory illness, you may want to change out your filters more often. A good rule of thumb is to pull the filter out and hold it up to a light source. If you can no longer see through the filter, it means that it’s time to change it. You should be checking your filter at least once a month.
Clean Your Indoor Unit
It’s a good idea to clean out your entire indoor air conditioning unit in the springtime to help get your system prepped to work at its most optimal. This will also allow you to identify any problems that can create an issue with your system prior to needing to run it. You want to start the cleaning process by going into your electrical panel box and turning off the circuit breaker for your entire air conditioning system. Always ensure that you kill the power to the system as you don’t want to work on it while it is live.
Go ahead and unscrew the fasteners for the access panel of the indoor AC unit. You want to place the panel out of the way until you’re ready to reinstall it once you’re done with your cleaning. Go ahead and locate the evaporator coil. You want to apply a foaming cleanser to this evaporator coil to remove all the stuck-on debris.
Once the evaporator coil is clean, it’s time to clean the drain pipe and the drain. The most effective way to do this is to mix up a 50/50 solution of hot water and bleach. Go ahead and pour it down the pipe and the drain. This will help to remove any loose debris and hard water build-up in your system. This is a necessary step to ensure that your system doesn’t get clogged during its long summer job. Once you pour the bleach solution, go ahead and reinstall the fasteners for the access panel.
Clean Up Outside
While you still have the power off to your air condition system, it’s time to head outside and check out your compressor unit. Before you clean the unit itself, you need to clean out the area around it. There needs to be a good three feet surrounding the entire unit without any sort of obstructions in the way. This means no overgrown bushes or low-hanging branches that could interfere with the flow of air to your outdoor compressor unit.
While you’re cleaning up the space around your outdoor compressor unit, it’s a good idea to throw a level on top of the compressor. Take notice if the system is level or not. If your system is level, you’re good to go. If the system is unlevel, you should throw down some gravel underneath the low side in order to help level the system out. The outdoor compressor unit needs to be sitting on a level surface in order to work at its most optimal efficiency.
Clean the Outdoor Compressor Unit
Once you clean up around the outdoor compressor unit, go ahead and remove the fasteners that are holding in the cover. When you pull off the air conditioner cover, you may notice that there is wiring attached to the cover. If you’re unable to set the cover beside the unit due to the wiring, you’ll need to disconnect the wiring. Make sure that you take note of where each wire was so that you can properly reconnect it when you’re done cleaning out the compressor unit.
You’ll want to start cleaning the unit by locating the condenser coil. You want to use a specialized condenser coil cleaner that you can get at your local hardware store. This will help to remove all the stuck-on debris. It’s important to note that the condenser coil cleaner is a very caustic solution, so you should be utilizing gloves when you apply the solution.
Now, go ahead and grab your hose and spray out the rest of your unit. You want to spray out any of the loose debris. Pay particular attention to any debris that is stuck within the air conditioner fins. Avoid the urge to use a pressure washer to clean out the interior of your unit, as it can damage the metal fins.
Straighten the Bent Fins
Each outdoor compressor unit has a series of metal fins. Due to the gentle nature of these fins, they can be easily bent by a small amount of force. It’s crucial that you unbend any of the fins that you noticed how to become bent. This is because the fins need to be straight in order for them to release heat from the condenser coil. If you have a number of bent fins, it will decrease the efficiency of how your compressor unit operates.
If you have a pair of small needle-nose pliers, these can help you unbend the fins pretty easily. If you want to be more efficient with your time, you can use a fin comb that fits your system. You can pick up these fin combs at your local hardware store. You’ll just need to count the number of fins that fill up a square inch on your unit. Fin combs are sold by the number of fins per square inch.
Fast AC Service Professional
Central Air Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is Clackamas’ fast air conditioner service professional. We offer top-quality heating, cooling, plumbing, and indoor air quality services. Simply call us today to set up your next appointment!