It’s that time of year – the time when everyone in your neighborhood will be dusting off their ACs and firing them back up after a long, cold winter of inactivity. While many people will be switching their units on and hoping for the best, savvy homeowners know that the best time to get air conditioning maintenance is in the early spring – before the days get brutally hot, and before everyone who waited too long for air conditioner maintenance in MD and DC starts calling in with broken ACs!
Air conditioning maintenance checklist
In order to ensure that your air conditioner will keep you cool this summer, proper air conditioning maintenance should include all of the following steps:
- Clean the outdoor condensers and indoor evaporator coils – coils are among the most important parts of your air conditioner. The condenser coil houses the refrigerant lines and surrounds the fins that line the outdoor cabinet of your AC. The evaporator coil is the part of your AC that absorbs heat and makes the air cold. If you have dirt or debris on either of these, it can reduce your air conditioner’s efficiency and put unnecessary stress on the unit’s moving parts.
- Check the refrigerant level – too little refrigerant in your air conditioner will require your system to work extra hard to provide cooling, reducing the efficiency (and, ultimately, the lifespan) of your unit.
- Inspect the indoor and outdoor drain pans and condensate drains – since air conditioners provide cooling as well as dehumidification, a lot of moisture can build up in the unit. If the drains are dirty or blocked, that moisture can become trapped either in the unit or in your house.
- Check the outdoor fan blades and indoor blower – the outdoor fan is what pulls air into the air conditioner; the indoor blower is what moves it through your home. These may need to be readjusted as part of your air conditioning maintenance so they can provide maximum airflow.
- Check the compressor and the refrigerant tubing
- Lubricate all moving parts (on older AC units) – most older AC units have ports on all of their moving parts (fan motors, compressors, etc.) that allow easy lubrication. Most newer models have sealed parts and don’t need extra lubrication.
- Inspect all electrical controls, wiring and connections – all electrical components and hookups should be routinely checked during air conditioning maintenance for wear and damage.
- Run a general air conditioner test – an important step of air conditioning maintenance is simply turning the AC unit off and on to check the operating functions such as the start cycle and shut off controls. The air conditioning contractor will also check for unusual noises or odors, measure indoor and outdoor temperatures and check system pressures as needed.
- Check the ductwork for leaks or other issues – while you shouldn’t need to inspect your ductwork as part of your yearly air conditioning maintenance, you should have it checked at least every few years to make sure there are no leaks or blockages. Problems in your ductwork are one of the leading causes of inefficiency in forced air AC systems, sometimes accounting for as much as 30% losses in efficiency!
Are there any air conditioning maintenance steps you can do?
Yes! At home air conditioner maintenance steps are pretty simple:
- Clean or replace dirty air filters monthly – dirty air filters are the number one cause of slow air flow for most air conditioners. If left long enough, dirty air filters can get so bad that they can cause your evaporator coil to ice up! Make sure to change your air filters once a month to keep your air flowing as smoothly as possible.
- Keep your condenser unit clear – your outdoor air conditioner compressor draws air in from around it, which it moves through your system and blows into your house as cool air. Needless to say, the compressor needs easy airflow! Cut back any trees or shrubs around your air conditioner compressor so that you have at least two feet of space around all sides.
*Note – many people plant trees or bushes around the compressor to protect it from the elements. This is not necessary – air conditioner compressors are designed to be outside in all conditions!
When is the best time to schedule air conditioner maintenance?
The best time to schedule air conditioner maintenance is NOW – early spring, before the summer heat really starts to kick in. If you wait until the middle of the summer, you’ll be at the bottom of the list as a thousand other people around the Maryland and Washington, DC area scramble to get their air conditioners serviced at the same time. Remember – preventative air conditioner maintenance is always better than air conditioner repair or replacement!
If you need air conditioning maintenance in Maryland or Washington, DC, call your local heating and air conditioning company – call Michael Bonsby Heating and Air Conditioning today!