For the most part, Wichita, KS, is graced with a comfortable climate all year round. But come summertime, the city and its surrounding neighborhoods can turn into a sauna, with temperatures reaching upwards of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When indoor temperatures start to climb to uncomfortable levels, make sure your air conditioner is ready to start working for you.
Without any initial preparation or inspection, you might find yourself stuck with an air conditioner that has a defective thermostat, has clogged refrigerant tubes, or any of the other possible issues that commonly befall air conditioners. Use the checklist below to get a clearer picture of your AC’s health.
Get New Filters
If you just recently replaced your filter, like a month or two ago, you can skip this step. For those who haven’t swapped their AC’s filter in the past year or so, it’s time to get a new air filter for your unit. This is perhaps the simplest way to take care of your air conditioner. Many homeowners, unfortunately, forget to do it regularly. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you should replace your air filters at least once every two months. If, for whatever reason, you can’t replace it that often, make it a point to run the filter through your vacuum to remove the accumulated debris.
Drain Your Condensation Lines
Your AC’s condensation line is responsible for, as the name implies, draining the condensation that is produced while the AC is running. Condensation build-up inside the AC can lead to the liquid backing up into the AC or spilling out into your floors and walls. Whichever outcome you get, it’s messy and potentially expensive aftermath. There are many DIY solutions to clean the drain line. For instance, you can use vinegar to flush out any byproducts, such as mold or algae.
Clean the Drain Pan
You’ll want to clean your AC unit’s drain pans as well. They play an important role in making sure condensation funnels to the outside. A central AC will usually have drain pans mounted in a furnace chamber atop the blower and combustion chamber. If your AC’s drain pan is made of metal, as with older models, you’ll want to watch out for any rust build-up. Meanwhile, plastic drain pans typically face the issue of getting cracked over time due to prolonged exposure to heat. Clean or replace the drain pan if it has any structural damages.
Clean the Evaporator Coils
Evaporator coils are responsible for collecting heat from the air inside a space. The coils are often made of copper and encased by a number of aluminum fins that help with heat transfer. You can find the evaporator coils inside the interior air handling unit. To clean it, remove the fasteners or screws to open up the access panel. You can then clean the coil and its surrounding areas with compressed air. You can also use a soft brush as an alternative to compressed air. Gently brush the coils to sweep the dirt off. Avoid using hard-bristle brushes as these can bend and alter the fins.
Check For Damaged Ducts
Air ducts are an equally important part of any HVAC system, but they are also often neglected. A common sign that your air duct needs repair or replacement includes consistently high utility bills even though you limit the use of your AC. If that’s the case, check for poor design, improper insulation, or heavily soiled ducts. You might also uncover leaking ductwork that may suggest loose or disconnected ductwork. According to HVAC professionals, the average household loses up to 40% of the circulating air through leaky ducts, which causes major operational inefficiency.
Comb Out the Condenser Fins
The condenser fins are thin metal grills located on the outside of your air conditioning unit. Its main purpose is to assist in heat dispersion outside of your home. Since they are outside and exposed to the elements, the fins can get bent and damaged. This results in restricted airflow. Buy a fin comb, also referred to as a coil fin tool, to straighten out the bent fins. To avoid bending the fins in the future, avoid pressure washing the external portion of your AC when cleaning it.
Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are a great way to lower your energy costs each month while using an air conditioner. It automatically shuts the AC off when the predetermined indoor temperature target is reached. Picking the right programmable thermostat involves several factors, including budget, voltage requirement, and the type of HVAC system you have. You should also consider what user interface works best and what type of mounting system suits your current setup.
Clear Out Your Yard
Or, more specifically, the area where your condenser unit is. Make sure there isn’t a pile of leaves or twigs or cinder blocks blocking air from being pulled in by the condenser unit. Leave at least two feet of space in any direction between objects and the condenser unit. If you find any debris, scoop or vacuum them out of the way.
Before doing any preliminary spot checks of your air conditioner, be sure that it’s cut off from its power supply. Turn the thermostat off as well as the circuit breaker where it’s connected to. You can find your circuit breaker either in your basement, closet, crawlspace, or the sidewall of your laundry area. Regardless, do not start working on your AC until it’s completely shut off. This not only ensures your personal safety but also minimizes the risk of damaging the AC’s moving parts.
You should also check if the condenser unit or the outside section of your air conditioner is leveled. If it’s unbalanced on one side, it might cause an obstruction in airflow, which leads to operational inefficiency and higher utility costs. Level the AC unit with the use of gravel or a slanted wooden slab.
Lastly, don’t forget to test the reset button. You want your AC unit to behave predictably after you’ve reset the machine. Find the reset button within the AC panel or use the owner’s manual for the button’s location. Hold the button for three seconds before releasing. Turn the power supply back on and switch the thermostat to “Cool” mode and confirm that everything works normally.
Bring in Professional Help
While it’s a doable DIY project, preparing your air conditioner entails a lot of delicate maneuvers and may require specific tools and experience. Let [company_name] do a comprehensive AC maintenance check on your HVAC unit to make sure it’s running at maximum efficiency. We offer a complete range of heating and cooling services, including hydronic radiant flooring. We also have expert electricians to help you with electrical system repairs and upgrades, and plumbers for plumbing upgrades, repairs, and tankless water heaters. We can even assist you with geothermal energy systems. Contact us today via email or phone to learn more about our services!