Preparing your air conditioning system might be the last thing on your mind in the crisp days of fall, the bitter cold of winter, or the pleasant warmth of spring, but taking the time now to prepare for hot summer months will keep you from getting stuck in the heat and humidity when it’s already too late.
Here are some steps you should take now to fully prepare your home and your cooling system for the hot summer months.
Prepare an air conditioning plan for summer
For those who have central AC systems and ductwork, this may seem like a relatively straightforward step. But for those who don’t have air conditioning installed or who are suffering from poor cooling in parts of their homes despite central AC, this is a key part of preparing for summer. It’s much easier to get units installed or to consult technicians during the fall and winter months than during the busy summer season when AC units across the city need constant servicing. If you weren’t happy with the level of cooling or the cost of your energy bill in your home last summer, you should consult with an experienced HVAC technician about your options.
Window air conditioning units provide the most basic level of air conditioning and can be a good fit for apartments or rooms in homes that get less AC. But ductless AC is the new trend that’s quickly edging out window units due to its superior energy efficiency and quality performance. Ductless heating or air conditioning units consist of a compressor that sits outside and an indoor unit mounted on the wall. They are perfect for new additions, for spaces that were previously cooled with a window unit and for creating different temperature zones within a house so you don’t have to waste energy on areas that aren’t inhabited. If you’re interested in ductless AC, need to upgrade your window unit, or want to install a full ductwork AC system, you should call an experienced HVAC technician now to get rolling so the system is up and running long ahead of summer.
Perform any maintenance or repairs to your system
Just as with installations, it’s much easier to have maintenance, repairs and system upgrades completed in fall or winter when you don’t need your AC system and there’s less demand on technicians’ time. If you had any maintenance issues over the previous summer that you put off or you want to upgrade elements of your system, you should take the time now to call in a technician and get the work done. Waiting until summer to conduct repairs could mean pushing your system to the breaking point. Having repairs done in the heat of summer also requires you to go without AC for the length of the repair, whether that’s for hours or days.
Clean and check your AC system
In the months leading up to summer, you should take the time to perform some simple cleaning and maintenance on your cooling system to ensure it’s ready to go for summer. Before you do any work on your cooling system, be sure you’re going about it safely. You should turn off the thermostat and turn off power to the condenser by switching off the circuit breaker.
- Change or clean the filter. A clogged AC filter restricts airflow through the system and can lead to reduced efficiency and dust recirculating in your home. Filters should be changed or cleaned every few months and should always be checked in the spring before turning your AC system on.
- Clean the condenser coils. Covering your AC unit during winter will help prevent leaves, dirt and other debris from building up on the condenser coils, but you should always check the unit in the spring, regardless of whether it was covered. Debris buildup can obstruct the unit’s airflow and lead to clogs.
- Check coolant lines. Refrigerant lines running from the condenser to the inside of your house should be coated with foam insulation to prevent energy loss. If you notice frayed areas or places where the insulation is missing, you should replace it with foam insulation sleeves or call an HVAC technician to replace the insulation.
- Test your cooling system. Once you’ve cleaned and checked over your cooling system, you should turn it back on to make sure it runs smoothly. If you don’t feel cold air after a few minutes, you likely have an additional problem in your system that requires diagnosis by a licensed HVAC technician.
If your system isn’t running smoothly during a test or you want assistance with preparing it for summer, you should schedule a tune-up with a cooling system professional. A licensed HVAC professional will examine all components of your cooling system and clean the coils if necessary. Having a tune-up completed preemptively will allow you to fix problems before the hot days of summer hit and you need your AC.