As a resident of Southern California, you want to be sure that your air conditioning unit is ready for the summer. There is nothing like trying to start up your AC for the first time only to find that you are not getting cool air out.
Most people just want to flip the switch and feel cool air pouring from the vents. However, a lot of people also fail to realize the subtle signs that indicate their system needs some attention. This combines to leave many homeowners disappointed and frustrated when the unit does not turn on and work perfectly.
To help you get ready for the coming season, here are five tips to prepare your system. Follow these and your system should start and end strong.
1. Clean or Change Your Air Filters
The very first thing is to check your air filters. Your entire system is based on being able to move air around. Restrictions anywhere in the system will cause it to lose efficiency as well as put undue wear on your unit.
When air cannot flow through the system properly it causes two major problems. First, it puts additional strain on the circulating fan, causing it to wear out prematurely. Second, the reduced airflow means it takes longer for the system to achieve the desired air temperature. This keeps the system running for longer periods, which again ages the entire system prematurely.
Even if you just changed your filters a couple of weeks ago, check to be sure they are not clogged. Simply vacuuming the loose debris off will help when you go to start your air conditioner. Long-life filters need to be checked as well to be sure they will allow enough air to pass through.
2. Clean Vegetation Away From Your AC Unit
There are many issues that can restrict the flow of air around and in your system. What is around the outside unit has a lot to do with how it will function.
For the best performance, you want to keep any vegetation at least 12 inches away from the unit. This ensures that enough air can flow into the unit and it can do its job properly. It also ensures that there are not vines or branches that can get sucked in while the unit is running.
Exercise caution when cleaning vegetation away from your unit, however. If vines have started weaving around any part of the unit, be careful with how much force you use to pull them out. AC units can take a little force, but they can also become damaged fairly easily. Use caution and consider clipping longer vines into smaller sections to reduce the stress put on any given point.
3. Clean the Outside of Your AC Unit
In addition to clearing away any vegetation, you may also want to consider cleaning the outside of your AC unit. This should be a very simple and gentle cleaning; deeper cleaning should be left to professionals to ensure that the unit is not damaged during the process.
For this cleaning, you simply want to turn your hose on and run water along the outside of the unit. Be careful not to use any techniques or attachments that create any amount of pressure. This pressure can easily damage the condenser coils, leading to expensive repairs.
4. Check Your Air Vents
Your air vents can tell you a lot about the condition of your system. The first thing you want to check is that vents are free of obstructions. Be sure to check both your duct vents as well as the return vent.
Like the outdoor AC unit, you want to keep things about 12 inches away from your vents. If your vent is under a piece of furniture, you want at least that 1 foot of clearance to be sure air can flow properly. This distance simply ensures air can circulate, allowing the cooler air to move out and not be absorbed. This absorption greatly reduces the efficiency of your system.
Secondly, check the condition of the duct vents. If you notice a lot of dust collecting around the vent, this is an indication that there is contaminant buildup in the system. Not only does contaminant buildup cause air quality issues, like aggravating allergies and asthma, but it also reduces efficiency.
If you notice this buildup, there are a few things to do. First, clean the vent itself. Next, double-check your filters. Finally, consider looking at having a deeper cleaning of your system.
5. Schedule an AC Tune-Up
Once you take the previous steps, it is time to bring in the professionals to perform a deeper tune-up of your system. This tune-up helps to make sure that your unit is ready to be brought online. Maintenance will also help uncover any small issues before they grow into costly problems. In most cases, your tune-up will include:
- Inspecting and cleaning the evaporator coils
- Cleaning and inspecting the condenser coils in the outside unit
- Activating the unit to ensure all components activate at the right time
- Checking the refrigerant pressure
- Inspecting and cleaning the circulating fan
- Oiling the circulating fan motor
- Testing electrical components such as relays, capacitors, and connectors
- Checking and tightening electrical terminals
Your AC tune-up may uncover repairs that need to be done for your system to work effectively. Uncovering them at a tune-up allows you time to plan to get the work done before the heat of summer sets in. It also reduces the strain on other system components and reduces the bills of emergency repair services.
BONUS: Consider Cleaning Your Air Ducts
The condition of your air ducts has a lot to do with how efficiently your system will run. Some estimates suggest that 30% of your energy is wasted by mold and mildew in your air ducts. For air conditioning, these materials act as super absorbers, reducing the cool air that finally reaches the duct vents.
Adding to the energy loss, consider the health implications related to your air duct. Up to 50% of all illnesses are either caused by or aggravated by indoor air contaminants. The air moving through your system will pick up some of the buildup and circulate it out into the air again. This is why you may see dust around your vents.
You should consider having your ducts professionally cleaned every two or three years. During the off years, use your household vacuum or a shop vac to reach as far into your ducts as possible. This will help reduce the buildup between professional services.
Southern California’s Award-Winning Air Conditioning Specialists
We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air has been serving Southern California for more than 20 years. We are committed to ensuring that our customers receive the highest quality service. That is why we employ professionally trained, NATE-certified technicians who pass extensive background checks. This is also why our customers consistently provide raving reviews, helping us earn the prestigious Angie’s List Super Service Award.
Not only does our team provide cooling system maintenance, repairs, and installation, but we also offer a full range of heating and plumbing services as well as solar power solutions. Call to schedule your appointment with our team today!