Before you turn on your air conditioner for the first time once summer hits, you should inspect your system and perform a few maintenance steps to make sure that everything will function efficiently and without issue. Taking some time to inspect your HVAC system before using it regularly can help you prevent everything from water damage to an air conditioner that won't blow cold air.
Call for Your Annual Inspection
One of the few things you should leave to a professional is an inspection of your outdoor unit, which should be done annually. During the inspection, a technician will look at your pipes and hoses, check your refrigerant levels and clean off the unit to make sure it is free of debris. Because you need certification from the EPA to handle refrigerant, this is something your technician will need to handle.
Make Sure Your House is Sealed
Air conditioners can use plenty of electricity, so you should be sure that the cool air stays in your home. There are three major ways you can do this.
- Look for leaks in your ductwork. If your house doesn't cool down very quickly, it's possible that much of the cool air isn't even making it to your vents.
- Check your attic for the state of your insulation. Many types of insulation, such as fiberglass, can eventually start to sag under the effects of gravity over time. When this happens they cover less area and don't work as effectively. If you think you need to reinsulate your house, look into possible tax credits for doing so.
- Check your house for leaks. These commonly show up in your door and window frames, but give your whole house a look. Other areas to focus on are baseboards, outdoor caulking around the foundation, weather stripping, attic hatches and chimney areas.
Replace Your Air Filter
A dirty air filter can cause a number of problems, from allergens being blown into your rooms to decreased efficiency and higher electric bills. Before you turn on your air conditioner, make sure there's a fresh air filter in the intake vent.
Clean The Condensate Drain
The condensate drain is where moisture that builds up on the condenser coils is drained out of your house. Bugs and debris can get into this drain and clog it up, which means that dripping water will have nowhere to go. If left unattended, you could have water start to drip in or around your house. In mild cases this can cause mold growth, but in more severe cases, you could face water damage to your walls and ceilings.
Give It A Test Run
A test run will establish whether the whole system is working correctly, but it can also help you catch other possible problems that could get worse down the road. For example, by running your air conditioner for a few hours, you can find out whether there are any problems on the air conditioner's electrical circuit. If you find that the breaker for that circuit keeps tripping as you run the air conditioner, you'll need to consult an electrician, and this isn't something you want to wait to do until the height of summer.
Primarily, make sure that your air conditioner turns on and off when it's supposed to (as set by your thermostat or manually), that you're receiving plenty of cool air from all the vents in your home, and that your condensate drain is working properly. Listen for any strange noises while the unit is running. If you detect any foul or strange odors, this is the best time to look into it or seek help. Odors can be caused by anything from a dead animal in or near your ducts or from a chemical leak in your unit, and for safety reasons they should be investigated quickly.
For professional air conditioning services, contact a company such as Arc Electric & Air Conditioning & Heating Inc.