One of the most critical systems in a home is air conditioning, as it provides a comfortable indoor living environment year-round regardless of outside temperatures. For the AC unit to reliably crank out the cool air, a few regular AC maintenance steps should be taken to keep the conditioned air system working its most efficiently, saving you money and time in the long run. Let’s look at the simple steps of AC maintenance you should take before the start of the warm season to prepare your unit to run its best in the months to come.
Safety First: Cut off the Power
Before you begin any work with any electrical system, it is vital that you turn off the power to the appropriate areas using both the manual power switch on the outside and inside units and flipping off the AC breaker controlling both.
Clean the Fan and Cage Grill
Working with the outside AC unit, use a wrench or screwdriver to remove the top cage grill and set it aside carefully. Then, gently remove all dirt, leaves, and debris from the unit’s interior by hand or with wet/dry vac.
Spray Down the Fins
The next step in AC maintenance is to remove the outer covers of the unit. Then, clean off the outside grill area, called the fins, using a hose with a brush attachment if needed. Carefully spray the inside of the fins next, using a gentle stream to avoid damaging the fin area. For extra cleaning power, apply a commercial fin cleaning spray.
Fix Damaged or Misaligned Fins
For your unit to work efficiently, the fins should be straightened with a butter knife or fin tool to ensure evenly spaced for efficient airflow.
Replace and Clean
Replace the top grill and side fin covers. Clear the area directly around the condenser for the next step of your AC maintenance, removing debris, branches, and foliage within a two-foot radius of the unit. During long winter months of disuse, cover the top of the unit with a piece of plastic or plywood to discourage debris buildup.
Level the Unit
One final outside unit AC maintenance step is to ensure that the unit is level. Over time, changes in soil can impact the compressor. If the unit needs to be leveled, use rot-resistant shims.
Moving Inside: AC Maintenance on Furnace/Blower Unit
Complete the following steps to protect and maintain this vital indoor unit.
- Evaporator Coil Use a commercial product to clean the coil and then rinse with water.
- Evaporator Drain If the drain appears blocked, you may need to use a wet/dry vac to clean the PVC pipe after the drain of algae or other growing matter in the tube.
- Blower Filter Swap out your filter now and put it on your calendar to do a second filter change in 6 months.
AC Maintenance Should Repeat Yearly
With these few simple steps completed every year, your AC unit won’t have to work as hard to do its job, saving you money in its efficiency in the long run.