Spring is in the Air…Conditioning
Ah yes, we all enjoy the first signs of spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, but the weather can sometimes be very unpredictable. Ideal Spring weather is usually mild and pleasant. Some days are cool and downright cold. Other days can be so hot that we consider turning on our air conditioning units for the first time all year.
Prior to enjoying that initial blast of cool air, homeowners should perform some preventive maintenance to make certain the air conditioning unit is operating properly. This will also help to ensure optimum performance of the unit for the upcoming season. Preventive maintenance should be performed twice a year if your system heats and cools your home. If the system only cools the home, check it at least once a year, always prior to the cooling season. Regular preventive maintenance is the best way to ensure trouble-free operation and peak performance. No one wants to experience a cooling system failure in extreme hot weather when you need it most.
Manufacturers recommend that air conditioning systems be inspected by professional HVAC servicers. However, both the homeowner and the professional can complete different aspects of preventive maintenance. Here are some standard maintenance items you can do:
- Clean around the outside of the condensing unit; make sure the unit is not clogged with leaves or debris.
- Inspect the fan on top of the unit; ensure no sticks or twigs have fallen through the fan vents and that the fan blades and vents are intact.
- Visually inspect the entire unit; coils in the back should be clean and any drain lines or tubing should be sealed and in good condition.
- Be diligent about changing the filters regularly.
- Check all floor or wall vents inside the home for damage and replace as needed.
- Always ensure that your ducts are properly sealed. Ducts should be airtight for efficient performance from your cooling unit.
There are many service and maintenance items that will be checked by a professional air conditioning and heating service provider. Always do research and use a reputable servicer. Your professional HVAC technician will complete a number of more detailed maintenance checks, including:
- Inspect for proper refrigerant levels and balance accordingly.
- Clean any dirt, leaves, or debris from inside the cabinet.
- Inspect drain openings and remove any obstructions.
- Inspect coils and clean if necessary.
- Inspect fan motor and blades for wear or damage.
- Check wiring and connections on all accessories.
- Inspect compressor and tubing.
- Check for gas leaks in gas powered units.
- Clean or replace air filters.
- Examine ductwork for leaks, damaged insulation, or loose connections.
Another very important component to consider is your home’s thermostat. The thermostat measures the temperature in your home and adjusts the level according to your preferred settings. During hot weather, keeping your thermostat set to a regular, comfortable level helps to reduce energy use and expense. Thermostats tend to become less efficient as they age. If yours is an older model or is not functioning properly, this is a great time of year to upgrade to a new, more energy-efficient thermostat. According to EnergyStar.com, homeowners can save roughly $180 per year by changing to a contemporary digital programmable thermostat.
On warm spring days, we want to just throw open the windows and let in “fresh” air. While the “fresh” air may give us a temporary reprieve, there are also airborne particulates that may enter our homes’ air systems this way. These can include dust, animal dander, pollen, mold spores and smoke. Because we spend 90% of our time indoors each day, indoor air quality is very important for our general health and well-being. This is particularly notable for those individuals who suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma.
Neglecting your air conditioning unit leads to poor performance and increased energy consumption. Properly maintaining your air conditioning unit can increase the life of the unit significantly. On the other hand, as with any apparatus, a neglected unit will have a short lifespan and will need to be replaced long before its time.
Now is also a good time to switch the ceiling fans back to spinning counter-clockwise, which helps push the cool air down into the rooms.
As you do your spring cleaning, be sure to add the air conditioning unit to your list. It will help you stay comfortable, whatever the fluctuating temperatures of spring might be.