After a nice breezy spring, it happens: the temperatures suddenly soar. The next thing you know, you’re reaching for your sunscreen and turning on the A/C.
But did you know that there are a few maintenance tasks you should do before switching on the cool air for the first time? Taking some time to prepare your air conditioner for the summer helps prevent problems — and gives you more peace of mind.
In this post, learn the five easy steps you can take to get your air conditioner ready for warmer weather.
Why Is it Important to Prepare Your Air Conditioner for Summer?
Winter in Davis County, Utah is often long and cold. This means that your air conditioner sits unused for months at a time.
During these off months, your system collects dirt and debris. Harsh weather may also add wear and tear to your outdoor equipment. It’s important to give your system a thorough checkup before turning it on for the summer to spot any issues.
We recommend doing your air conditioner prep in early-to-mid spring before temperatures become uncomfortable. That way, your system is up and running by the time the heat hits. And you won’t have to worry about being stuck without a working air conditioner on a toasty day!
Now, let’s dive into the five easy steps you can take to prepare your air conditioner for summer weather.
Step 0: Turn Off Power to Your HVAC System
Before starting any work on your air conditioner, it’s crucial to make sure you turn off the electricity. This prevents you from getting shocked or injured while prepping your A/C.
How Do I Shut Off Power to My Air Conditioner?
In most homes, you can turn off power to your air conditioner with the main breaker box. Your breaker box should have labels for each switch — so locate the switch that controls your HVAC system.
Some homes have a separate switch for the HVAC system. So if you can’t find the right switch in your breaker box, look around the area that houses your furnace. There may be a small breaker box near the unit with separate switches.
Once you’ve turned off power to your air conditioner, you’re ready to move on to step one.
Step 1: Change Your Filter
Your HVAC filter cleans the air that enters your home. It traps irritants like dust, pollen, and pet dander. So keeping your filter clean is one way to improve your indoor air quality! This is especially true during seasons of peak use, like summer and winter.
Most filters are located in or next to your furnace. Your filter may be above, next to, or under the furnace unit.
How Do I Know if my HVAC Filter Needs to Be Replaced?
Remove your filter and determine if it needs to be changed by asking these two questions:
- Does it look dirty compared to a new filter?
- If you hold it up to the light, does it allow light through?
Be sure to check the dimensions and type of filter before purchasing a new one. You can find this information on the cardboard frame of your old filter.
Another factor to consider is the MERV rating of your filter. Higher MERV ratings mean that a filter traps more particles and will need to be changed less frequently.
If your old filter is especially dirty, consider using a vacuum or rag to clean the area before putting in a new filter.
Now that you’re breathing easier, it’s time to check the airflow.
Step 2: Check Your Registers, Vents & Returns
The vents and returns in your home allow air to flow in and out of your HVAC system. To help your system run efficiently, make sure they’re unblocked.
An air return sucks in air from your home and sends it into your HVAC system to be filtered and recycled. Returns are often located on a hallway wall and are larger than vents. Check to ensure that your air returns are not covered by furniture or other items.
Air vents supply air into your home and typically have a register (or cover) that you can open or close. You should never close more than 20% of the vents in your home at once — doing so can put extra pressure on your system and cause damage. Make sure that your vents are unblocked by rugs or furniture and that 80% or more are open.
Next, it’s time to head outside.
Step 3: Clean Your Condenser Coil
Your condenser coil releases the heat collected by your HVAC system and returns cool air into your home. This is how your air conditioner keeps your home comfy even on hot days.
Start with a visual inspection of your condenser coil. Remove any large debris like branches, trash, or leaves. You can use a large, clean paintbrush to get anything stuck in the fins.
Next, make sure that there is at least a foot or two of clear space on every side. You may need to prune bushes or trees that grew closer during the off-season.
Finally, use a hose to carefully wash the fins and remove any remaining dirt and grime. If your condenser is extra dirty, you can buy coil cleanser at the local hardware store and apply it before cleaning with water.
Step 4: Inspect Your Refrigerant Lines
Your refrigerant lines carry coolant to the condenser coil. They’re a small yet critical part of your air conditioner — so they deserve some extra attention before you switch the system on.
Refrigerant lines run from the condenser coil to your house and are usually located behind the condenser unit. Once you find them, check to make sure that:
- Each line is completely insulated, with no gaps, tears, or cracks
- The holes into your house are sealed and secure
- Lines are securely connected to your condenser coil
- No breaks or cracks are visible in the refrigerant lines
If you see any issues with your lines, we recommend letting an HVAC professional take a look.
Once everything checks out, it’s time to give your A/C a test run.
Step 5: Test Your Air Conditioner
Now that you’ve confirmed that there are no visible problems with your air conditioner, you can test it out.
Turn the power back on and turn the thermostat down by about 5-10 degrees. Wait 15 minutes, then check to ensure that cool air is coming out of your vents. You may smell a slightly dusty odor at first, but it should fade quickly.
If your system starts up smoothly and blows cool air, you can check prepping your A/C off the to-do list. You’re ready for that heatwave!
A Well-Prepared Air Conditioner = A More Comfortable Summer
Taking a few minutes to prepare your air conditioner for summer lets you face the heat with confidence. And you’ll be less likely to experience an unexpected problem on a hot day!
If you have questions about your system or spot issues during your inspection, we’re here to help. Call or text us at 801-755-2335 so we can help you stay comfortable in every season.