Few things are worse than discovering on the first sweltering hot day of summer that your air conditioner isn’t working! Unfortunately, this is often the case if your annual maintenance is overdue. However, spring is the perfect time to schedule a service call or perform some basic maintenance to ensure your AC is ready to keep you cool this summer.
So why does this happen? Central air conditioners use an indoor air handler and an outdoor compressor. The condenser (which is the part of the unit that needs to be cleaned and maintained) is usually located outdoors. During the cold winter months, while your air conditioner has been sitting idle, it’s been collecting leaves and other types of debris. To get your AC into shape for the warm weather ahead, it’s important to clean the condenser, replace the filters, and perform some minor checks.
How to Perform Basic Maintenance
Although we recommend staying up-to-date with your annual maintenance service, we have several tips to help you get your AC ready to cool your home efficiently this summer.
- Shut off power to your AC unit and condenser
Safety always comes first! Before performing any maintenance, be sure to turn off the circuit breaker to your AC unit. You should also turn off the power to the condenser at the service panel. The condenser unit will look like a large metal box with a fan and grilles on the sides. Condensers usually have a 240-volt weatherproof disconnect box containing a lever, fuses, or a circuit breaker to shut off the condenser; this will be located near the unit and should be turned off as well.
- Clean or replace the AC filters
The filters should be cleaned or replaced whenever they start to look dirty and clogged with dust and debris. At the very least, make a point to clean or replace them twice a year. If the air filters are dirty, it will restrict airflow and affect how efficiently your AC runs. Dusty filters can also cause respiratory issues because they recirculate the dust into your home.
- Clean your condenser coils.
It is not recommended you disassemble the outdoor or indoor units as there are electronic circuit boards, high and low voltage wires as well as delicate refrigerant lines.
- Gently hose down the outdoor coils with a hose. High pressure can cause damage to the coils and splash on the electrical circuit boards. Never use a pistol sprayer or high pressure washer to clean your coils.
- If it looks like you still can’t see through the coils after this or there is dirt matting them, call PECO and we can professionally clean them for you.
- Remove debris from the base
After you’ve cleaned the condenser coils, clear out all the leaves and debris that have accumulated at the base of the condenser. If your AC unit has a drain, you’ll also need to make sure it’s clear of any debris.
- Check the coolant lines
The coolant lines are usually covered with foam insulation, and run from the AC’s evaporator on the air handler to the condenser. Check the insulation for any damage; if you see areas that are frayed or missing, replace them with new foam insulation sleeves. If you don’t have foam insulation sleeves, you can wrap the lines with foam insulation tape.
- Test your AC unit
Once you’ve finished cleaning the unit, it’s time to turn the power back on and test it using these steps:
- Turn the thermostat in your home off.
- Turn the power on at the disconnect box and the main panel.
- Switch your indoor thermostat to cool.
If your AC is working as it should, great! If not, you’ll need to schedule a service call. Although basic maintenance can be DIY, repairs should always be handled by a skilled HVAC professional.
PECO Will Help You Get Your AC in Gear for Summer!
If you feel uncomfortable performing maintenance yourself or your AC isn’t working right, PECO is here to help! We’ll check the entire system, including refrigerant levels, electrical connections, wiring, and other components, so you can be confident your system is in proper working order. Our expert technicians can quickly diagnose any issues and get your AC up and running in no time. Don’t put off your AC maintenance until the dog days of summer! Contact PECO today at (864) 639-2424 and enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures all summer long.