10 Tips to Prepare Your Air Conditioner for Summer

Preparing your air conditioner for summer should be an important yearly routine.

A well cleaned and maintained unit will save you significant money on your electric bill while keeping you cool. Additionally, the unit will last longer with fewer malfunctions when you need it the most. 

Let’s look at how you can prepare your air conditioner for summer.

Learn Some HVAC Basics

Your unit may be bigger than you think. It’s made up of a condenser (the outdoor unit) and an evaporator (the indoor unit where you change your air filter).

The evaporator removes hot air from the house through the return. Then through refrigeration technology, the heat is extracted from that air, leaving chilled air. This chilled air is then blown back into your house through the ductwork and air vents.

Understanding how your unit works and investing in preventative care can save money on repairs.

Evaluate Air Flow

To prepare your air conditioner for summer, go around your house. Find each vent. Be sure to look under any boxes or furniture you may have. 

Are all vents uncovered and open? Do they all have a clearance of at least a foot?

The last thing you want to do this summer is freeze the bottom of your sofa while the living area feels like an oven. This will increase your electric bill while decreasing your comfort and life of your unit.

While you’re at it, go ahead and switch any ceiling fans over to summer setting to make air flow work for you. 

In the summer, blades should turn counterclockwise. There’s a little switch on the base, just under the blades. Turn the fan off first.

Doors in your home should remain open as much as possible to prevent uneven room temperatures. Remember, that the return’s job is to suck warm and stale air out of your home.

If a door is closed, the air conditioner will not perform optimally.

Evaluate Ductwork

The ductwork that connects to your vents is likely stapled or nailed in place. It can become detached from the vent hole. If so, you’re likely sending cold air into your crawlspace or attic instead of your home.

Remove the vent cover. Make sure that the duct is secured all the way around.

If it isn’t:

  • Grab some needle nose pliers
  • Pull the duct carefully up into place
  • Nail it back in with a staple gun, nail gun or good old fashioned hammer. 

If you have a crawlspace or attic that you can easily move around in, double check your ductwork there to make sure it’s not leaking or dislodged.

Replace Filters

Replace your air filters at least every 3 months. If you have pets who shed indoors, you may need to replace them more often.

Air filters are your first line of defense against mildew, mold and allergens, so don’t ignore them.

Clean the Return

The vent around the return can collect dust and pet hair if you don’t clean it regularly. Open it up and vacuum the area thoroughly.

Evaluate Your Thermostat

Is the thermostat working properly? Now that you’ve addressed any airflow issues, you can consider this objectively.

Now that you’ve addressed any airflow issues, you can consider this objectively.

If it’s really dated, you should know that thermostats today are designed with energy efficiency and comfort in mind. They allow you to set daily schedules to accommodate your needs.

Plus many are now part of the Internet of things, meaning that you can access and control them through an app on a smartphone or other Internet-enabled device.

The Department of Energy recommends programmable thermostats to slash electric bills and save energy. 

Clean the Condenser Unit

As we continue to prepare the air conditioner for summer, let’s walk outside to inspect the condenser unit. First, make sure it’s turned completely off for safety. Turn it off by flipping the circuit breaker marked “AC” in your breaker box.

Wait about 30 minutes before attempting to service the unit because it can hold an electrical charge, which is dangerous.

The condenser unit is that big box with the fan on top of it. During the winter, leaves and debris can collect on and around the fan. Any debris present will reduce energy efficiency and the life of your unit. 

To clean the fan:

  1. Again make sure the unit is off.
  2. Remove the grill with a screwdriver.
  3. Very carefully pull any leaves, pine needles or sticks out. 
  4. Wipe it down with a moist cloth.
  5. Tighten any loose bolts
  6. You’ll notice that the fan motor has oil ports. Place a drop of WD-40 into the port.

To clean condenser coils, you’ll need to:

  1. Unscrew and remove the side panel
  2. The top panel should come off next. But it will be heavy because the fan is attached to it. DO NOT force it or disconnect any wires. This may be a two person job. 
  3. Use a coil brush or soft brush vacuum to gently clean the coils. Careful not to bend the thin metal fins. If you accidentally smash them, you’ll need special tools to straighten them. They are sharp.
  4. If you haven’t cleaned your unit in several years (not advisable), you may need to use a hose with a trigger nozzle. But again, careful not to flatten the fins or spray the electrical components. Covering those parts with a big trash bag can help prevent splatter.
  5. Clear out any debris around the unit or weeds that could prevent air flow.
  6. Mop up any excess water.
  7. Close the unit up.

Check Coolant Line

The coolant line is covered in a thick foam. This insulates the lines so it doesn’t lose energy. If the foam is shredded or missing, replace it.

You can buy foam insulation sleeves that simply fit around the line. 

Test the Unit

Your air conditioner is ready for summer. Test it out. It should work more energy efficiently while keeping you cool. If it’s experiencing common AC problems, it may be time to call a professional.

Prepare Your Air Conditioner For Summer

With a little preventive care, your air conditioner will be ready for summer. If you have questions of need help maintaining your AC unit in the Indianapolis area, give us a call at 317 528 9777 or reach out through our website.