Before turning on your A/C system, it’s time to show it some love. Why? Because it’s been a long cold winter – as they usually are – and most of us are dreaming of the day we can switch our HVAC system from heat to air conditioning. Well, actually we’re dreaming of warmer days but that goes along with getting ready for AC season, right?
Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but you get the idea. Rising temperatures are not only a harbinger of spring but they are a reminder that we will soon need air conditioning to keep our homes comfortable. And because turning on your AC for the first time this season isn’t as simple as just flipping a switch, now is the right time to make sure your system is ready.
Without proper preparation, you could face high utility bills and an inefficient system. This can damage the system and cause the AC to fail entirely. That could mean thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs!
The following are essential things to do to prep your system before turning the A/C on:
1.Inspect the Outdoor Unit and Remove Debris
The winds during the fall and winter months have likely blown leaves, twigs and even trash up against the coil. The system’s condenser coils work by transferring heat, so any debris that has accumulated on the coil limits this effect. Remove all debris, clear away any vegetation growing too close to the unit and clean the coil. If you are mulching the area, don’t pack it around the base of the unit. This space must remain open to allow good airflow to the outdoor unit.
In addition, make sure all panels are in place and aligned properly. If a panel is missing (possibly due to wind) or misaligned, there are potential risks to both you and the system. If the panel covering the electrical connections is missing or out of place, call a qualified HVAC technician for an assessment before starting your system.
2. Remove Any Condenser Covers, Coil Blankets, or Lids
If you covered the condenser coils to protect them from winter’s cold, remember to remove these coverings before turning on the AC system. These covers protect and insulate the coil, but also limit any heat transfer. Starting the system with covers in place, even for a short time, could severely damage your system.
3. Repair or Replace Any Damaged Pipe Insulation
Check your lines and pipes. The suction line, which is the larger copper pipe on the outdoor unit, supplies cool refrigerant back to the compressor in the outdoor unit. If the system’s suction pipe has damaged insulation, this could cause a loss of cooling required to run the unit effectively and further damage the system. The foam insulation needs to be intact to maintain system cooling, so inspect it closely before starting your system. If the insulation needs replacing, do it before starting the unit.
4. Change the Air Filters
During the winter, indoor air filters collect more debris and dust than normal. Some systems recommend changing or cleaning the filters at least once a month. This is a job you can do yourself. If you don’t already know how to change your filters, your technician can show you during your spring check-up. A dirty air filter can increase energy costs and cause additional damage to your equipment. According to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.
5. Check the Evaporator Coil Drainage Hose
The next step is to check the coil drainage hose or “condensate line.” This is a white PVC or copper pipe that runs from the inside of your home to the outside, found near your HVAC outdoor unit. Since the coil’s temperature is lower than the ambient air, water condenses on the coil and drips into the tray below. This condensation needs to flow to a drain or the tray will fill up and flood the unit or potentially spill water into your home. Make sure the line is in the proper place, attached, and that it will drain to the appropriate location.
6. Clean the Supply Vents and Return Grills
All vents need to be clean and clear of debris. Remove any coverings you used during the winter to cut down on drafts. Also make sure both the supply and return air grills and vents are open. It’s important to have proper airflow. If not, you’ll overwork your system, raise your energy bills, and even burn out your HVAC!
7. Check Your Circuit Breaker and Thermostat
Now check your thermostat and circuit breaker. Make sure your circuits are in the on position and your thermostat is switched to cooling.
8. Turn on the AC System to Make Sure It Works
Now that you’ve checked both your indoor and outdoor units, it’s time to turn the system on, preferably on a nice, sunny day. Check the air coming out of the indoor vents for the first few minutes after starting it. You should feel cool air coming out of the registers. If there’s no air coming out, or the air coming out doesn’t feel cool, then something could be wrong. Turn the system off at the thermostat and call your HVAC technician.
Your Air Conditioning Benefits from Regular Maintenance
If just reading the above steps leaves you a little apprehensive, don’t worry. The good news is that Levco technicians check all these things, plus the blower components, refrigerant level and more during an annual Air Conditioning Spring Check.
When your system works as the manufacturer recommends, it uses less energy to cool your home. And lower energy use means bigger savings on your monthly utility bills.
If you wait until the heat of the summer to find out your Air Conditioning isn’t working properly, not only are you inconvenienced by an emergency service call, but you may have done additional damage to your equipment. So beat the heat and contact Levco to schedule your Air Conditioning Spring Check. One of our knowledgeable, friendly, qualified technicians will be glad to help!
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