The start of summer is just around the corner. In certain parts of the country, the temperatures are already rising. What all that means is that you need to ensure that your air conditioner is ready to take on another season of heavy work. You may very well need some air conditioning services rendered to see if your unit is up to the task, but before signing up for that, you can perform the maintenance procedures below and get it up to speed yourself.
Turn Off the Power Supply for Your Air Conditioning Unit
Whether you’re asking someone to conduct some AC repair or just taking on the challenge yourself, the first thing that must be done is to turn off the power supply. Things can get dangerous in a hurry if you neglect this important first step.
Err on the side of caution and turn everything off, including the switch at the shut-off box located close to the air conditioning unit itself as well as the power at the breaker.
Remember to shut off the power at:
- The unit itself
- The exterior shut-off box
- The breaker
Take Out Any Foreign Materials Present in the Air Conditioner
If you’re air conditioner is located outside your home, chances are that it will catch at least some debris. Fallen leaves and twigs are among the materials most likely to fall into your air conditioning unit.
Grab a screwdriver and start to take off the fasteners so that you will be able to free the fan grill of the air conditioner. Proceed to remove any debris that may be stuck to that fan grill. You can just use your hand to do that or a more powerful cleaning tool.
You can also use the cleaning tool to remove foreign materials from the outer covers of the unit. A vacuum with a brush attachment works great for this particular job.
Removing the foreign materials involves:
- Taking out the fan grill
- Cleaning the fan grill with either your hand or a cleaning tool
- Use the cleaning tool to clean the outside covers
Give the Air Conditioner’s Fins a Shower
The next part is where many people trip up and calling on an AC repair professional could be necessary because it’s so easy to mess up. The fins inside the air conditioning unit can accumulate dirt and debris, but they are also more prone to damage.
In order to clean them properly, you need to use a garden hose producing a gentle stream of water. Place the hose inside the unit and begin spraying the fins inside out to expel the dirt particles that have built up.
Avoid using stronger cleaners because those can easily cause permanent damage to the fins and to the air conditioning unit by extension.
To properly clean the fins:
- Use a gentle stream of water from a hose
- Clean from the inside out
- Refrain from using any powerful cleaning tool
Realign the Fins of the Air Conditioner
After cleaning the fins of the air conditioning unit, you now need to get them lined up properly. Usually, a professional who specializes in rendering air conditioning services will use a specific tool for this job.
There’s no need to go out and get that fin-straightening tool however. A butter knife will work just as well for the job. Just like with the cleaning, remember to be gentle with the fins to prevent them from being damaged.
Reminders for realigning the fins:
- A butter knife will work as well as a specialized tool
- Exerting too much force is unnecessary and potentially damaging
Create a Good Environment around the Air Conditioner
Air conditioners work better when they are given plenty of space. To do this for your air conditioning unit, you can clear out the debris surrounding the condenser. Do some general cleaning around that spot and cut branches if needed.
In an effort to keep debris away from your air conditioner, you may think to keep it covered. Doing that will only make it an attractive rest spot for small animals though, so remember to remove the cover.
Items that need to be removed from the area surrounding the air conditioner include:
- Any other materials that could adversely affect airflow
Level the Air Conditioner Properly
Getting your air conditioner back on level is important because the compressor inside can suffer otherwise. This would seem like a job you leave up to an AC services provider, but you can handle this yourself.
You first have to get a level and then use it to check the alignment of your unit’s condenser. If the unit is level, then you can move forward to the next step. If it isn’t you will have to pick up some shims and use them to correct the issue.
Air conditioners not on the level may suffer from:
- A broken condenser
- Poor performance
Get the Evaporator Coil in Working Condition
Open up the inside of your air conditioner now and locate the evaporator. It should be found either within the inside blower or next to it.
Start brushing the coil gently to remove some of the dirt and follow that up by spraying it with some coil cleaner. AC services providers get their coil cleaner from home improvement stores and you should find one there too.
The cleaner should remove more dirt from the coil and transport the particles to the drain pan. Clean that pan next using bleach, soap, and hot water. Lastly, pour a solution made out of bleach and water into the drain. The solution should be made out of equal parts of bleach and water.
Items That Will Help Clean the Evaporator Coil:
- Coil cleaner
Unclog the Evaporator Drain
If the bleach solution did not go quickly through the drain, that means you will have to clear out some clogs. You first have to find where the drain line leads by following it.
After finding the exit point for the drain line, you can place a vacuum inside of it. Take the filter out of the vacuum first. Create a seal around the vacuum and the drain line by using some tape or some cloth. Let the vacuum run for a couple of minutes.
- Remove the filter from the vacuum
- Form a tight seal around the vacuum and the drain line’s end
- Give the vacuum a couple of minutes to clear out the clogs
Replace the Blower Filter on the Air Conditioner
Find out where the filter enclosure is on your unit. Grab a screwdriver and pry open the enclosure. Take out the old filter and then slide in the new one while remembering to line it up properly. Shut off the enclosure by placing the door back on.
Some notes about the replacement:
- Remember to get a filter with a similar airflow rating to the one already in the unit
- Specialty HEPA and purifying filters may not work with your AC unit
- Check with the manufacturer to learn which filters are okay to use
Turn On Your Air Conditioning Unit
With all of the steps above completed, you can power up your air conditioner and see how it’s working. If it’s working great, then you have don’t have to worry about it again for a while. If it’s not producing the type of air you need, there’s likely something more serious affecting it.
You will have to bring an AC repair specialist in if:
- There’s a leak in the air conditioning unit
- Refrigerant levels are off
- Ducts are not properly cleaned
As a homeowner, you’ve done all that you can, so don’t hesitate to bring in the pros if some problems regarding your air conditioner do persist. It’s better to have those problems nipped in the bud as early as possible instead of having them pop up during the exceptionally warm days of summer.