Can't Afford A Professional Air Conditioning Service? Follow These Three Steps To Get Your Unit Ready For Summer

As the end of winter draws nearer, it is time to begin thinking about getting your air conditioning unit ready for summer. One of the best ways to do so is to have it professionally serviced in the springtime. Unfortunately though, if money is tight, this may be something that you simply can't afford to do at this time. While there are some things a professional will do that you can't do on your own, such as topping off the coolant, there are still many things you can do on your own to get your unit ready for summer. Here are three steps to follow in getting your air conditioning unit ready for summer on your own.

Change the Filter

It is recommended that the filter in your air conditioning or HVAC unit be replaced at least two times per year. Your unit pulls in air from outside. This air is filled with dust, dirt, pollutants and allergens. The air is pulled through a filter that helps catch all of these items so they don't flow into your home. However, as the unit is used, the filter becomes full and needs to be replaced. If you fail to do so, your unit will be less able to pull in air, which means it will take longer to cool your home and your unit will work longer, and dirty air will be more likely to blow into your home.

Filters are located in the air conditioner's air-handler cabinet. The unit of this cabinet changes based on the manufacturer, but if you start opening doors on your unit, you will find it. Once you locate the cabinet, simply slide the air filter out and replace it with a new one. It is also recommended that you change the filters located in the return-air registers within your home at the same time. 

Clean the Air Conditioner Condenser or Evaporator Coils

The air conditioner condenser and evaporator coils work hand-in-hand, holding the refrigerant that is used to cool the air. As coolant travels through the coils, the coils become extremely cold. When warm air comes into contact with these cold coils, it begins to cool. Once cool, it is blown into your home. However, over time, dirt, dust and other residue can sit on top of these coils. This can limit just how cool they can get. Cleaning helps to remove the build-up from the coils so they can cool efficiently. Follow these steps to clean your air conditioner condenser and evaporator coils:

  1. Turn the air conditioner off and allow it to cool completely before touching it. Parts can get hot and will burn you if the unit is not left to cool.
  2. Remove any screws or fasteners holding the access panel in place. This panel may be located on the side, back or top of your unit. Be sure to read your owner's manual to determine where yours is and what tools you will need to remove the fasteners. Once you have remove the fasteners, lift the access panel off the unit.
  3. Locate the condenser and evaporator coils. They are connected and you typically can't differentiate where the condenser coil ends and the evaporator coil begins. They both look almost like an air filter made from metal screen-like material. They have the same peaks and valleys, or fins, that an air filter has.
  4. Spray compressed air across the coil, going from the cleaner side to the dirtier side. This is the opposite direction that air normally flows through your air conditioning unit, so most of the debris should loosen. For stubborn debris, place the air nozzle close to the bottom side of the debris and spray to lift it upward. Continue this process until the coils are clean. Alternatively, you can use a soft-bristled cleaning brush to brush away dirt and dust from the coil. This can also be used in conjunction with the compressed air to brush away stubborn debris. Never use a wire brush, as you can damage the fins.
  5. Once the coils are clean, place the access panel back in place and adhere the fasteners to hold it in place.

Check the Coolant Line

Coolant is responsible for cooling the air that is eventually blown into your home. If your coolant is leaking, your unit will struggle to cool air as the coolant runs low, and eventually be unable to when it runs out. Look at the back of your unit and find the coolant line. This is also commonly referred to as the refrigerant or Freon line. This is the thicker of the two lines running from the back of your air conditioning unit and it should be covered in insulation. If the insulation is wet, there is a possibility coolant is leaking from the line. In such a case, either remove the insulation sleeve from the line, or use a utility knife to slit the insulation open and remove it. Inspect the line, looking for cracks or leaks. If you notice that the line has any cracks, holes or liquid leaking from the line, you have no choice but to have it professionally looked at and repaired. If you do not notice any leaks, you can place the insulation back over the line and hold it in place with insulation tape. If you notice any cracking or crumbling on the insulation while completing this task, you should replace the insulation at this time as well.

After completing your own air conditioner maintenance, you will want to turn the air conditioner on and allow it to run for about 30 minutes. During this time, you will want to make sure the unit is running correctly. If you notice any strange noises, such as clanking or squealing noises, or if the unit is not cooling down your home, you will need to call in an air conditioning repair professional to diagnose and fix your air conditioner before the summer hits. Contact a company like Shivani Refrigeration & Air Conditioning for more information.