Having a home air conditioning unit is a big benefit during the hot summer months. It can keep your family nice and comfortable while they’re indoors. However, air conditioning systems don’t just take care of themselves. It’s necessary for you to perform maintenance on your system to prevent it from breaking down.
Maintenance should be performed during the spring months. This gives you adequate time to test out your air conditioner and make sure that it’s running correctly. If it doesn’t, you’ll have time to get it fixed before the summertime heat settles in. One big component of springtime AC maintenance is cleaning the entire system.
Start With the Filter
A great place to start your cleaning task is at the air filter housing. If you’re not sure where this is, refer to the owner’s manual for your home air conditioning system. Most homes will have just one air filter. However, larger homes may have two or even three air filters. Once you locate the filter housing, it’s time to pull it out.
A good general rule of thumb is that your air filter should be replaced every three months. If you hold the filter up to a light, you should be able to see through it. If not, that means that it’s time for a replacement. You have four main options that you can choose from. These include pleated, fiberglass, washable, and HEPA filters.
You’ll want to locate the model number of the existing air filter. This way, you can ensure that you purchase the right-sized filter for its replacement. Most homeowners opt for the pleated air filter, which is a good blend between adequate air filtering and affordability.
If you have young children, allergies, or an upper respiratory illness, it’s advisable to spend more money and purchase a HEPA filter. This specialized air filter will remove 99.7% of airborne hazards. This is more than any of the other filter options that we went over above.
Clean Your Vents
Once your air filter is replaced, it’s time to move onto your vents. There will be at least one supply and one return vent per room in your home. Remove these vents from their housing and give them a good washing. Many times, these vents get caked in dust and other debris that can trigger unwanted allergy flare-ups.
While you have your vents out, take a rag and clean out the exposed portions of the ducting. It’s very common for dust and other debris to get stuck on the interior of the venting throughout your home. While you won’t be able to reach all of it on your own, cleaning what is exposed can help to remove that nasty dust from your indoor air. It’s recommended to get a professional duct cleaning every three to five years.
Clean Your Indoor Unit
Next, it’s time to clean out your indoor air conditioning unit components. It’s important to realize that you’ll want to turn the entire power off to your air conditioning system via its circuit breaker. You’ll want to leave the power off until you finish cleaning the outside unit and you’re ready to test run your AC system.
Start by removing the access panel to the indoor unit. This is typically held on with bolts or screws. Set the panel to the side and get your evaporator coil cleaning solution. While you can utilize bleach, it’s highly recommended to invest in a foam cleaning solution that is specifically designed for evaporator coils. You can find this cleaning solution at any local hardware store.
Once the foam has fallen off of your evaporator coil and it’s shiny clean, it’s time to move onto your drain pipe and drain. Due to the removal of moisture from the air during the conditioning process, it’s very common to experience hard water buildup in these areas. A 50/50 bleach and water solution should help to remove that buildup quickly. Go ahead and reinstall your access panel.
Clean Around Your Unit
It’s time to head outdoors and take a look at the space surrounding your outdoor compressor unit. It’s very common for leaves, twigs, and other loose debris to get wedged between the unit and the exterior of your home. Take a few moments and clean the space around your unit.
If you notice that your shrubs are overgrown near the unit, cut them back. If there are any low-hanging branches over your outdoor air conditioning unit, then you need to trim them. There should be a solid two to three feet around the entire unit where there are no obstructions. This will ensure that your outdoor unit gets adequate airflow to work properly.
Clean Your Outdoor Unit
Your outdoor compressor unit has a cover that protects its various internal components. You’ll need to remove the screws that hold it in place. Some compressor units may have wiring going from the unit cover to the internal components. If these wires are keeping you from fully removing the cover, simply disconnect them for now. Just be sure to snap a picture or write down the order of the wiring so that you can reconnect them once you are done with your cleaning.
The first component that you’ll want to clean is the condenser coil. Again, you’ll need to purchase a specialized condenser coil cleaner at your local hardware store. Use precaution when applying this product as it’s very caustic. Since your outdoor unit is exposed to the elements, they tend to be dirtier than your indoor components. This requires a more caustic cleaning solution to get all that stuck-on debris removed.
Next, grab your hose and clean off the metal fins and interior area of the compressor unit. Don’t use a pressure washer as it will likely damage the sensitive metal fins. For your air conditioner to work at an optimal level, all of the fins need to be straight. Unfortunately, it’s very common for some fins to become bent out of place since they’re so sensitive.
You’ll want to use a set of small pliers or a fin comb from your hometown hardware store. Carefully bend back all of the fins into their original position. If you’re utilizing a fin comb, be sure that you have the right size. They are sold based on the number of fins that your system has in a square-inch section.
Now, it’s time to close up your outdoor unit. If you disconnected wires to take the cover off, be sure to reconnect them in the appropriate order when you put them back on. If you didn’t disconnect any wires, go ahead and put your AC grille cover back on and secure it in place with the included screws.
Thorough AC Maintenance
Peterman Brothers is your premier AC servicer in the Indianapolis area. We offer cooling, heating, and plumbing repairs, installation, and maintenance. Simply give us a call today, and we’ll be happy to assist you.