It’s easy enough to flip the switch from air conditioning to heating when the weather gets cold. However, that will leave you with a possible mess next spring and the stress of wondering why your AC isn’t working properly. Follow these maintenance tips for the end of the summer to get the most from your cooling system now and ease the stress in the springtime.
Understanding Air Conditioning Maintenance
Both DIY maintenance tasks and professional maintenance have the same purpose. Ultimately, the underlying goal is to keep your system operating efficiently and reduce strain-related repairs.
You accomplish this by regular tasks that help your air and refrigerant continue flowing freely, keeping the refrigerant pressure regulated and replacing worn parts. Some of these tasks you’ll be able to do on your own, but others you’ll want to leave to a professional.
The air flowing through your system contains small particles that end up settling on your filter and inside your system. This needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent unusual strain that leads to component failure.
Minor degradation in component performance has a negative effect on the entire system. Finding and solving these minor degradations saves you from major failures caused merely by strain over time.
Spring Isn’t the Only Time to Consider Maintenance
Spring is commonly the time when people look to complete maintenance on their air conditioners. This ensures the system is ready for the heat of the summer and that it’s operating at its peak efficiency.
However, there is additional maintenance your system needs to continue operating well and be ready to shut down for the fall. It is easy to neglect these simple tasks throughout the summer, but that neglect adds strain to your system. Taking care of these items now will ensure you start next spring ahead of the game.
This is also a great time to get professional maintenance if you haven’t had it performed this year. In the spring, you are caught in the rush of everyone getting spring maintenance before the heat takes hold. If you wait until the fall, you are now in the rush of the furnace and heating system maintenance before the winter.
Check Your Thermostat’s Batteries
The thermostat acts as the brain of your heating and cooling system, so ensuring it works properly is critical. Most people forget their thermostats have a service life of about 10 years before the heat sensors start being wildly inaccurate.
Even within that 10-year life, the batteries need regular replacement to ensure the device has enough power to work. The industry recommendation is to change these batteries every twice a year or when you switch from heating to cooling and back again.
Even if you test your batteries and there seems to be plenty of charge left in them, still replace them on schedule. Also, avoid using rechargeable batteries. They tend to lose their charge capacity over time. The last thing you want during extreme temperatures is an inaccurate thermostat reading causing problems with your system.
Change Your Filter
Your air filter needs regular replacing to allow the right amount of air to continue to circulate through your system. To facilitate effective circulation, the common 1-inch filter needs to be replaced about once every 90 days. If you have poor air quality, you may need to replace your filter more often.
Even if you just replaced your filter, check to see how quickly it’s collecting contaminants. You may want to check your filter monthly and gently vacuum the dirt off the intake side. This will help extend your filter’s usefulness.
Check the Air Volume
Next, subjectively check the amount of air coming from your vents. While you could buy expensive equipment to determine the exact cubic feet per minute, you don’t have to. Rather, just use your bare hand.
Once your system runs for a few minutes, it should have plenty of cool air coming from the vents. With your bare hand, feel for how much air comes from the vent. If you scarcely feel air movement, you have an airflow restriction somewhere.
Test Your Temperature
Aside from checking your air volume, you should also test the temperature of the air coming out. Specifically, you want to check the difference in temperature between the conditioned air versus the ambient air. When your air conditioner is working properly, the air coming out should be at least 15 degrees cooler than the air going in.
The easiest way to test this is with a meat thermometer. Start by allowing the thermometer to acclimate to the air in a room with a return vent for about five minutes, then record the reading. Next, gently insert the probe into the vent with the unit running and record the temperature.
Look for Storm Damage
Summer brings with it both warm weather and strong storms. During these storms, your air conditioner can sustain damage from hail and other flying debris. This damage can lead to component failure, refrigerant leaks and excessive strain.
There are a few primary signs of storm damage, starting with significant dents and cracks in the unit’s housing. These do not directly affect the system’s function; however, they do indicate a strong likelihood of additional damage.
The other significant sign is debris sticking out of or caught in the condensing unit. You want to look for anything larger than leaves or grass clippings, especially anything in the condensing coil or fan housing.
Clear Your Condensing Unit
Your condensing unit cannot work properly if it cannot draw air in through the condensing coil. The system continues working by transferring heat from the refrigerant to the air moving through the outside unit.
People commonly ignore their condensing unit, allowing grass and weeds to grow up around it and especially behind the unit. This restricts the airflow, reducing the heat transfer capacity.
Ideally, keep at least 12 inches cleared around and above your unit. This ensures air can flow properly through the coil and then vent out the top of the unit.
Get Current on Your Professional Maintenance
If you haven’t had your unit professionally maintained this year, do so before the weather starts changing again. Many manufacturers require professional maintenance to keep the warranty valid.
Additionally, maintenance now will help you understand any repairs you may want to complete before next summer. This allows you to budget for those repairs and ensures your system is ready for the strain the heat brings with it.
Don’t Forget Your Vents
Finish by checking your vents for excessive dirt buildup around the edges. This indicates contamination buildup in your system that needs cleaning.
Also, check that your vents are open and clear from obstructions. Aim to keep at least a couple of inches above and around the vents clear to allow air to flow from them and circulate into the room.
People around Indianapolis have turned to Peterman Brothers in Greenwood for reliable heating and cooling installation, maintenance and repair since 1968. We also offer expert plumbing and electrical services, making Peterman Brothers your one-stop home service company. Call today to schedule your air conditioning maintenance or service.