With winter nearly over, it’s only a matter of time before you start thinking about putting your air conditioner back into service. However, putting your A/C system back to work isn’t as simple as turning it on and hoping for the best. It’s a good idea to take care of the following maintenance tasks before you start using your A/C system for the summer.
Uncover and Clean the Outdoor Condenser Unit
If you’ve had the outdoor portion of your central A/C system under wraps this winter, now is a good time to uncover it. Once the covers are off, it’s a good idea to check the unit for any damage or debris—especially damage potentially caused by rodents.
The outdoor condenser unit draws air from the bottom of the unit, which means this area has to be kept free of stray leaves, branches, and other debris. After your cursory inspection, carefully remove debris and stray vegetation from within and around the base of the outdoor unit.
If you see large amounts of dirt and grime on the condenser coil, you may need to rinse it off with your garden hose. Carefully and thoroughly hose down the condenser coil, making sure to avoid direct contact with any electrical components. To remove stubborn grime, spray the coil with a mix of mild detergent and warm water and use a soft-bristle brush to gently scrub down the unit. Afterwards, use your garden hose to rinse the solution and allow the coil to air dry.
Check the Outdoor Suction Line’s Insulation
Insulation around the outdoor condenser unit’s suction line can become worn or damaged due to natural rot, rodent damage or water intrusion. When checking your outdoor condenser unit, you should make sure this insulation remains intact. If it isn’t, then you should replace it with the appropriate size and type of insulation for the suction line.
Clean the Evaporator Coil
Like the condenser coil, the evaporator coil needs occasional cleaning due to dust, grime, and debris accumulation. Such buildup can prevent your A/C system from operating properly, resulting in a loss of cooling performance and energy efficiency.
To clean the evaporator coil, you should use a spray bottle filled with a mild detergent and warm water. Use a soft-bristle brush to carefully clean the evaporator coil without damaging any of its delicate fins. When you’re finished, use another spray bottle filled with warm water to rinse the coil and allow it to air dry.
Check the Condensate Drainage System
In addition to cleaning your evaporator coil, you should also take a look at the condensate drip tray located directly below the coil and the drainage system directly attached to it. First, make sure the drip tray itself is not damaged or worn in any way. If you see any cracks, pinholes, or areas with severe rust or corrosion, you may need to replace the entire tray.
Next, make sure the drainage line is free of any clogs or obstructions that could cause condensate to back up and overflow the drip tray. If necessary, use a small drainage snake to break up tough, large clogs. Afterwards, disinfect the drain line by pouring a half-cup of white vinegar down the condensate drain. You can also use household bleach to disinfect the drain line, although vinegar offers a safer yet effective alternative.
Check and Change Your Air Filter
It’s easy to forget about changing your air conditioner’s air filter, especially since it seems like such a small part of your A/C system. However, your air filter plays a pretty big role in preventing common airborne pollutants, including pollen, pet dander, carpet fibers, and certain viruses and bacteria, from circulating throughout your home. You should check and change your air filter at least once every three months, unless otherwise specified by your A/C system manufacturer.
Check and Lubricate the Blower Fan Assembly
Lubricating your blower fan motor on a regular basis can help prevent excessive wear and tear and keep your A/C system operating with as little noise as possible. Proper lubrication also increases your blower fan motor’s life expectancy, resulting in lower maintenance costs over the life of the A/C system.
You should also take the time to carefully inspect the blower fan itself. Carefully check each blade for dents, deformation, or corrosion-induced pitting. Watch for severe rust, as this could cause the fan to fail during operation. Also make sure the wiring for the blower fan motor is intact, with no signs of fraying or heat damage.
Inspect Your Ductwork
Hidden ductwork problems can make it difficult to circulate cool, conditioned air throughout your home. A damaged or incorrectly installed portion of duct can divert conditioned air into normally unconditioned spaces, resulting in unexpected temperature swings and poor overall cooling performance.
It’s always a good idea to inspect as much of your ductwork as possible. Be on the lookout for obvious signs of damage or neglect, including any rips or tears in soft ductwork, rust, and corrosion on metal ducts and portions with failed or missing tape or mastic. For portions of your ductwork that are normally inaccessible to you, you can have your HVAC technician perform an inspection of your ductwork in these hidden areas.
Proactive air conditioner maintenance is essential if you want your system to perform at its best throughout the summer. Contact us through our online form to schedule your next A/C maintenance or if you have any questions about your A/C system.