How to Quickly Prepare Your Home’s Air Conditioner for Summer [To-Do List]

April 21, 2015

You’d do maintenance work on your car before going on a long road trip, right? Right, after all the last thing you’d want is your car to break down in the middle of nowhere. *Cue creepy banjos*
 
Well, similarly, you should do maintenance work on your home’s air conditioner before summer starts. The summer season is like a “roadtrip” for your air conditioner because it is constantly working, increasing the chances of a breakdown.
 
And no one wants to be in the middle of summer without cooling. No one.
 
Maintenance work also keeps your AC working efficiently, keeping your electric bills relatively low.
 
So here’s a quick to-do list you can—and should—follow to keep your AC running pretty for the grueling summer months. 

Clean off the outside unit

Do this: 

  1. Find your air conditioner outside unit (the one with the fan)
  2. Brush off any leaves and limbs that have fallen on it
  3. Wash the outside unit with a garden sprayer on a low setting (too high and you can damage some important parts on the AC.) 

“Wait, why am I doing this?”
 
Long story short, if your outside unit is dirty, you’ll be less comfortable and have higher energy bills.  
 
Here’s why. 
 
Essentially, your air conditioner works like a heat sponge: it absorbs heat from your indoor air and then transports it outside, dispersing it via the outside unit. 
 
But if the outside unit is dirty, it can’t disperse the heat well. Meaning your AC has to run much longer to cool your home.
 
That means less comfort and higher energy bills for you. 

Check and change the air filter

Do this:

  1. Check your air filter in the return register (the metal grate where air gets sucked in)
  2. If the air filter is dirty, change it
  3. If you’re out of filters, buy some pronto. 

If it looks like the one on the right, change it! 

“Wait, why am I doing this?”
 
A dirty filter is supposed to protect your AC from dirt. But once it’s full of dirt, not only does it cease to protect, it starts to harm the AC.
 
Overall, a dirty filter can:

  • Reduce the volume of air coming out your supply vents, leaving you uncomfortable
  • Increase your utility bills
  • Destroy the compressor (a part that costs an arm and leg to replace.)

Learn more in our article: Dirty Air Filter: How It Will Kill Your Home’s Air Conditioner.

Make sure your supply vents are open

Do this:

  1. Locate all your supply vents (the metal slots where air blows out)
  2. Open them! 

“Wait, why am I doing this?”

Many homeowner shut vents in rooms they don’t use to save money, but it can actually have the opposite effect. 
 
Your AC is balanced to provide a specific amount of air throughout your home. The only thing shutting vents does is increase pressure in your duct system.
 
Extra pressure in the duct system can:

  • Cause the blower to work at slower speed, leaving you uncomfortable
  • Push more air out of duct leaks, increasing your energy bills as a result
  • Reduce air over the evaporator coil, causing it to freeze and possible become damaged. 

Beyond DIY: Get professional maintenance

Everything we’ve mentioned up to this point are things you can do to keep your AC working in tip top shape. (Think of it as the equivalent of adding air to your car’s tires and changing the air filter on your car.) 

But just like your car, your AC has plenty of parts that need some lovin’ from a professional mechanic so that it works properly. 
 
That’s why ENERGY STAR recommends that you should “keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups.”
 
Pre-season is the best time for scheduling maintenance because contractors have less work to do so it’s easier to schedule a visit.
 
Want to keep your AC working efficiently so it’ll keep you comfortable?
 
Contact Santa Fe for professional air conditioner maintenance.