How to Prepare Your Air Conditioner for Summer

technician installing air conditioner on a wall

As the days grow longer and temperatures start to climb, it’s that time of year again when you turn to your trusty air conditioner for a cool refuge from the summer heat.  From cleaning filters and ducts to programming thermostats for optimal efficiency, we’ve got you covered with a comprehensive guide on how to prepare your air conditioner for summer. 

There are even more tips to prepare your AC for summer and keep your home cool and comfortable. So, let’s get your air conditioner summer-ready!

How to Prepare Your Air Conditioner for Summer

Preparing your air conditioner for summer doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, it’s a series of straightforward steps that can make all the difference in keeping your home refreshingly cool and your energy bills in check. We’ll break down these steps one by one, from basic maintenance checks to optimizing your unit’s performance. So, let’s explore the essential steps to get your AC summer-ready!

Safety First

Safety should always be your top priority when it comes to household tasks, and preparing your air conditioner for summer is no exception. Before you begin working on the AC unit, always turn off the circuit breaker attached to your AC system. All sources that power the AC system must be turned off.

This simple action protects you against the risk of electrical shock or injury as you handle the AC system. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so always prioritize your well-being and that of your loved ones as you embark on the journey to a cooler and more comfortable summer.

Fresh Filters for a Breezy Summer: Clean filters

fitting filters of an air conditioner
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One of the most crucial steps in preparing your air conditioner for the upcoming summer is to clean or replace your furnace or air-handler filters. You’ll want to do this whenever the AC filters look clogged with dust or at least twice a year. Neglecting this simple task can lead to many issues, like restricted airflow, reduced AC unit efficiency, and the unwelcome recirculation of dust into your home. 

Think of your air filters as the lungs of your cooling system, and keeping them clean ensures your AC breathes easily, keeping you comfortably cool throughout the summer months.

Breathe Easy: Clean and Inspect Vents

Air vents, whether on the floors, walls, or ceiling, are crucial in distributing cool air throughout your home. Over time, they tend to accumulate pet hair, pesky spider webs, and a layer of dust that can hinder airflow and diminish your AC’s efficiency. 

To ensure your home stays refreshingly cool, it’s time to give those vents some attention. Without removing the vents, simply grab the hose assembly of your household or shop vacuum and gently suck away the unwanted debris. 

This quick and easy task will help your air conditioner operate at its best, keeping you comfortable and your indoor air quality pristine throughout the summer.

Breathe Fresh: Clean Ducts

In the case of central air conditioners’s ductwork, a labyrinth of passageways carrying cool air from the air handler to the vents and returning air from the vents back to the air handler are vital in keeping your living spaces comfortable. 

While these ducts are typically concealed within your walls, ceiling, and floor, they occasionally require attention. 

Cleaning your air ducts is important, but you should only do it when you really need to. There are some situations that might make it necessary, like when you smell bad odors, find mold or mildew, or discover animals that didn’t make it out. Also, if you’ve recently done some remodeling inside your home, that could be a reason too. 

When these things happen, having a professional clean your ducts is a good idea. This will make sure that your air conditioner works well and that the air in your home stays nice and clean.

Clean the Inside Unit 

air conditioner cleaning service
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To keep your indoor air conditioning unit working efficiently, it’s crucial to clean it regularly. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Access Panel Removal: Start by removing the access panel on the indoor AC unit.
  1. Evaporator Coil Cleaning: Clean the evaporator coils, which can accumulate debris over time. Use a foaming cleanser designed for coils to remove this buildup effectively. As the foam works, the debris will fall into the drain pan.
  1. Drain Pan and Pipe Cleaning: The drain pan and drain pipe can get clogged with hard water and debris. To prevent water backups, clean both of these components with a solution of bleach and water. This ensures a clear and functioning drainage system for your air conditioner.

Clear the Path for Peak Performance: Clean Debris Around Condenser

Your outdoor condensing unit faces the elements year-round, making it susceptible to accumulating all sorts of debris that can hinder its efficiency. Before subjecting your AC to the relentless summer heat, it’s crucial to give this unit the care it needs. Start by removing any accessible debris, such as fallen tree limbs, grass clippings, stray trash, and unruly plants from both on and around your unit.

For those who have lush greenery around their outdoor unit, it’s essential to ensure it has enough breathing room. Maintaining at least two feet of clearance around the system will prevent trees and plants from obstructing its operation. By taking a few moments to tidy up the area around your outdoor unit, you’ll be helping it run smoothly, ensuring a refreshingly cool and efficient summer for your home.

Keep it Smooth: Straighten Condenser Fins

When it comes to your outdoor compressor unit, paying attention to the often-overlooked details, like the metal fins surrounding it, is essential. Fins play a critical role in dispersing heat from your AC system efficiently. If they become bent or damaged, they can hinder the unit’s performance. Luckily, fixing this issue is straightforward.

To straighten bent fins, you’ll need a fin comb. To determine the right size of comb, measure and count the number of fins present in a single square inch. Combs are typically sold based on the number of fins per square inch, so selecting the correct size is essential. With a little TLC and the right fin comb, you can ensure that your condenser unit operates smoothly, effectively dissipating heat and providing the cool comfort you crave during summer.

Efficient Cooling: Check Coolant Lines

person servicing ac units
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It’s important to inspect the coolant lines. These lines are typically covered with foam coolant line insulation to prevent energy loss. As part of your pre-summer AC preparation, closely examine this insulation. 

If you spot areas where it’s frayed or missing, it’s time for a quick fix. You can restore the insulation’s integrity by installing foam insulation sleeves or wrapping the lines with foam insulation tape.

Revive Efficiency: Clean Condenser Coils

The condenser coils are like the radiator of your car, but for your home. Their job is to release the accumulated heat from your living spaces, allowing you to stay comfortably cool. However, as time passes, these coils can accumulate a layer of dirt and debris, which not only reduces your system’s efficiency but also increases your energy costs.

To keep your AC running at its best, it’s crucial to clean those coils. You’ll first need to remove the unit’s cover or protective grilles to access the coils. Then, using a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, gently clean the coils to remove any dirt or debris.

You can consider using a specialized solvent called AC foaming coil cleaner for more thorough cleaning. If you’re unsure about tackling this task yourself, don’t hesitate to hire a professional to clean and inspect your coils.

Secure Performance: Inspect Your AC Condenser Unit Pad

Your outdoor AC condenser unit rests upon a substantial concrete or composite rubber pad. This pad serves several critical purposes, including reducing vibrations, maintaining the unit’s level position, and elevating it above potential water puddles. However, over time, wear and tear can damage this essential component.

As you gear up for summer, inspecting the pad’s condition is imperative. Ensure it hasn’t sunk into the ground and is still level. Look closely for any signs of cracks or damage. A compromised pad can seriously impact your condenser unit’s performance, potentially leading to inefficiency and costly repairs down the road.

Optimize Comfort and Savings: Thermostat Programming

Harness the power of technology to maximize comfort and energy savings as you gear up for summer. Your thermostat plays a pivotal role in regulating your indoor climate efficiently.

Consider setting your thermostat to a comfortable 78 degrees when you’re at home, allowing you to enjoy a cool environment without overburdening your AC system. However, during times when you’re away, remember to program your thermostat to a higher temperature, around 88 degrees. This strategic adjustment ensures that your air conditioning system operates in an energy-efficient manner when cooling your home isn’t an immediate necessity.

By embracing this simple yet effective step, you’ll find a balance between staying cool and saving on energy costs, making your summer both comfortable and budget-friendly.

Embrace Efficiency: Consider Unit Replacement

If your air conditioner has faithfully served your home for a decade or more, it might be time to contemplate an upgrade. Most AC units are engineered to last 10 to 15 years, and as technology advances, newer models become more energy-efficient.

Replacing your aging unit with a modern, energy-efficient model can offer significant benefits. Not only will you enjoy the reliability of a newer system, but you could also see substantial savings on your cooling costs. 

Before the summer heat takes its toll, it’s wise to consult with an HVAC professional to evaluate whether replacing your AC unit makes sense. By considering this step, you’ll not only enhance your home’s cooling efficiency but also contribute to a more sustainable and cost-effective summer season.

Stay Cool and Trouble-Free: Schedule Annual Maintenance

Just like your car needs regular check-ups to run smoothly, your air conditioner unit benefits immensely from annual HVAC maintenance. As you prepare for the summer months, don’t forget to schedule a professional tune-up with a qualified technician in the spring.

This annual ritual serves multiple purposes that can significantly enhance your AC system’s performance. First and foremost, it helps lower your energy bills for the coming months by ensuring that your system operates at peak efficiency. Additionally, annual maintenance allows technicians to catch any developing problems early, preventing costly repairs. 

It’s a proactive step that can help you avoid a mid-season breakdown, sparing you from the discomfort and inconvenience of a malfunctioning AC during the sweltering heat.

Advantages Of Preparing Your AC Unit For The Summer Season

Preparing your AC unit for summer offers a myriad of compelling benefits:

  • Energy Savings: A well-prepared system operates more efficiently, leading to cost savings on your summer energy bills.
  • Peace of Mind: You’ll feel reassured and ready to face the upcoming warmer weather confidently.
  • Reduced Breakdown Risk: Proper preparation decreases the chances of your air conditioner suddenly stopping working, avoiding unexpected discomfort and expenses.
  • Extended Lifespan: Giving your AC unit the care it deserves can increase its longevity, protecting your investment and ensuring reliable performance.

FAQ About Air Conditioners

Does an AC require service every year?

Yes, regular AC maintenance at least once a year is recommended. This ensures optimal performance and energy efficiency and prolongs the lifespan of the AC unit.

Do you really need a programmable thermostat?

The straightforward response to whether programmable thermostats conserve energy is yes. To maximize your energy savings, however, it’s essential to ensure proper installation, setup, and usage.

Are heat pump air conditioners energy efficient?

Heat pumps excel in energy efficiency as they generate a greater volume of cooling and heating air than the energy they consume. Additionally, these systems demand minimal maintenance, needing attention only twice a year.

Where to Find Help to Prepare Your Air Conditioner for Summer

Preparing your air conditioning unit for the hot days is a proactive and cost-effective way to ensure your comfort and peace of mind during the sweltering heat. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll not only save on energy costs and reduce the risk of unexpected breakdowns but also extend the lifespan of your cooling system. 

However, if you ever need expert assistance or any step feels too complex, don’t hesitate to reach out to an HVAC professional near you. HVAC professionals have the experience to keep your AC in peak condition, ensuring a cool and comfortable summer for you and your loved ones. Remember, staying cool and stress-free during the summer is just a few clicks away.

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Cecilia Acevedo

Cecilia is your home expert with a knack for making spaces both comfortable and efficient. Beyond her skill in transforming homes, Cecilia has a specialized focus on HVAC systems. She knows the ins and outs of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, ensuring your home is always at the perfect temperature.