What to Do Before Turning on Your Air Conditioner for the First Time this Summer
The summer cooling season is coming fast—but is your air conditioner ready to go?
The last thing you need on that first scorching day of summer is to discover your air conditioner isn’t up to the challenge, and that’s why you need to check it beforehand to make sure it is in good working order.
Preparing to Launch
The place to start is outside, where your central air conditioning system’s condenser unit is located. Naturally, if you used a tarp or commercial cover to protect the condenser during the winter you should take it off, but if you didn’t you should clear away any dust, dirt, twigs, branches or dried leaves that may have collected on top of the unit.
Next, you’ll need to clear the area around the condenser, which is important to ensure proper air flow. Any objects or vegetation within 2-3 feet of the base of the condenser should be removed, and if by chance any tree branches are hanging over the unit they should be trimmed as well.
Finally, you should use a hose with a spray nozzle to clean off the condenser coils, which are located on the outside of the unit. If the hose doesn’t get the job done, you may have to use a wash cloth to wipe off any grease or grime that remains.
Once you’ve finished with the condenser, your last step before switching your air conditioner on is to change your HVAC air filter. These filters are located on the inside of your heating and air conditioning system’s intake grills, and they should be changed every three months (or possibly more often during periods of heavy usage) to ensure clean, smooth and efficient operation.
One important tip: never install cheap fiberglass filters, even when they’re brand new they’ll do a lousy job. Pleated filters that cost a few more dollars are your best bet, they will capture much greater quantities of the indoor air contaminants that can trigger asthma or allergy attacks.
Ready, Set … Cool!
Once you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to test the system. Set your thermostat to ‘cool’ and put the fan on automatic, then set the temperature low enough to ensure the air conditioner will come on in short order.
Assuming it does indeed switch on, you should hear the blower fan running smoothly and quietly, without any rattling or clanking. Outside, if the condenser is working properly you should hear the steady whir of the spinning fan and the deep hum of the compressor.
To make sure the air conditioner is actually cooling, you should check the largest refrigerant pipe, which runs into the condenser and is covered with a thick layer of insulation. Peel back the insulation a bit and put your hand on the pipe: if it is cold enough to make you pull your hand away, it means your air conditioner is cooling exactly as it should.
First, Do it Yourself—and then Call in the Pros
Home maintenance is important, but professional maintenance is just as vital. Even if everything seems okay, you should still contact your HVAC service provider to arrange a springtime tune-up and inspection. They will check your central air conditioning system from top to bottom and everywhere in between, and if repairs are needed they will get to work immediately. These visits are usually cheap, and may even be free if you have a pre-existing maintenance plan.
Keep Your Cool with Northern Climate Control, Inc.
In the Denver Metro area, Northern Climate Control is your top choice for top-of-the-line air conditioning installation, repair and maintenance services. This summer you’ll depend on your air conditioner to help you beat the heat, and you can depend on us to get your air conditioner ready to fulfill its mission.