Get your Air Conditioner ready for Summer!

Get your Air Conditioner ready for Summer!

Edward Neeld5/15/21

With the arrival of spring we know the really hot weather is just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to do a few things to your home (or business) air conditioner to ensure it is working at it's best in the coming months. The first thing you can do, of course, is change the air filter. In fact you should be changing your filter on a regular basis! You can see your filter size on the one you have installed now.  If not, measure the length and width inside the frame and that will tell you the size you need.

The filter actually does several things. The first is it keeps the evaporator coil clean. The evaporator coil is within the unit usually inside the house and it is what actually cools the air as it passes through. Over time the slots in the coil can become clogged and this can block air flow. When that happens the coil can no longer exchange heat efficiently and the unit has to run longer and longer to get the same cooling effect. More wear and tear on your unit and the electric bill goes up! The second thing a filter does is help keep your internal environment cleaner. At the very least a basic filter will help keep dust down and the more advanced filters are also effective at removing Pollen, Dust/Lint, Dust Mites, Pet Dander, Mold, Bacteria and Virus Carriers.

After your filter the next thing you can do is clean your evaporator coil. You may be thinking "that's a bit more than I want to get into!" but it's really not that hard. In fact any reasonably handy person can do it without difficulty. Generally it's just a matter of removing an access panel that is held on with screws. Once you can see the coil you will want to use a specific product called coil cleaner. This product is designed specifically for coils and allows you to do it effectively and easily. Just spray as directed and it can drain out the condensation tube just like the water does. If you have a lot of accumulation on your coil you may want to physically remove all you can before using the cleaner. I once cleaned a coil at our house and actually peeled back a layer of accumulation in one solid sheet! If you need to you can also use a Fin Comb kit to help you physically remove deep debris in the coils.

Another thing you can do is use a utility wet/dry vacuum to remove accumulation. If you are able to reach both sides of the coil go ahead and suction them both. But most importantly suction from the side where the air enters. This way you're pulling debris back down out of the coil instead of further into it. The high suction will help you get debris out that you may not have been able to remove. After you've completed the above tasks be sure to finish it off with the coil cleaner. Following these procedures can make a huge difference. Referring back to the one I cleaned earlier; after we did it, it felt like we had a new air conditioner!

Next, don't forget to check your condensation drain. Most people are surprised at how much water an air conditioner can produce! If you have a clogged condensation drain you may think you have a plumbing leak. A little maintenance here goes a long way. To use a chemical drain opener make sure it is environmentally friendly. Sometimes AC drains will just drain directly outside instead of into the household plumbing. An alternative to drain opener is to use a drain auger. This physically clears out the obstruction. If it is working properly just continue to use the tabs as directed to keep it draining smoothly.

Having done these things inside it's time to move outside. That thing with the big fan outside is called a condenser. It's what compresses the refrigerant before it is sent back inside to the evaporator (remember that thing you just cleaned!) Well the condenser has coils too and just like the evaporator you want to keep them clean. Once again you can clean these coils in similar fashion to the ones inside. Use the coil cleaner as directed and a fin cleaner/straightener if needed. One advantage of it being outside is you can use your garden hose to clean it. With a good hose end nozzle you usually have enough pressure to push out any left over debris.

The condenser needs air flow, lots of it! So in addition to cleaning the coils like outlined above, clear away any vegetation that's crowding it. Use a set of good loppers to get rid of any bushes or trees up against it. Also be sure to remove any creeping vines or grasses that are moving in on it. And don't forget about ants! Ant killer is your friend here. If you get a significant colony up against your evaporator they can definitely clog the coils and could even affect the electronics. Plus you'll use it around the house for other areas anyway. In fact as you move around your outdoor equipment be wary of stinging pests and insects. Wasp spray is very useful this time of year!

Keep it cool this summer!

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