After the long winter season you may feel ready for the summer heat, but is your AC unit prepared to keep your home cool? It is important to ensure your system is prepped for summer, and as a homeowner there are some quick tasks you can do to avoid costly maintenance mistakes. After sitting idle through the winter season, your AC unit will need a little TLC before running again.

First, start with the outdoor unit:

Remove any condenser covers, coil blankets or lids: If you covered the outdoor coil in order to protect it during the winter months, be sure to remove the cover before starting the system. These covers protect and keep leaves out of your unit, but also limit air flow and any heat transfer. Starting the system with any of these covers in place, even for a short time, could severely damage your system. Many people forget to remove their covers every year, often resulting in major repairs or even replacement of the whole system.

Inspect the outdoor unit panels: These panels are designed to enclose the electrical connections and must be in place to help protect both you and your system. If you are missing a panel (possibly due to wind) or if the panel is misaligned, this could pose safety risks for both you and the safe operation of the equipment.

Remove any debris from the outdoor coil: Depending on where you live or what side of the house your system is located, you might find trash or vegetation blown into or against the coil. The system coils are designed to transfer heat; any debris limits this effect. To get the best possible performance from your system, remove this debris from the coil and surrounding area. If there is a lot of dust, pollen and debris in the coils you can usually wash this off with a garden hose, but be sure to keep the spray limited to the coil area and keep it away from any electrical panels. Also, while mulching in the spring, take care to not pack mulch around the base of the unit. This is especially true for heat pumps as there’s likely a space under the unit and this should always be kept open to allow good air flow to the outdoor unit.

Then, inspect the indoor unit:

Change the air filters: The change in seasons is usually a good time to replace your indoor air filters. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. With the normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by as much as 5% to 15%. If it is too large or too small it will not work well and this could also harm your system. Filters have a “MERV” rating. The higher the MERV value the more efficient the filter is at trapping airborne particles.

If you ever notice anything out of the norm with your HVAC unit, make sure to contact us so we can inspect it for you.