As you might have already heard, Mr. Groundhog did not see his shadow this year so for those of us in Southwest Florida that means Spring could be here tomorrow. Maybe not quite that soon, but the Sunshine State warms up pretty quick so the time is now to start thinking about making sure your air conditioner is in good working order rather than flipping the switch later and hoping for the best. For the health of your AC unit and the safety of your home we’ll examine six ways to prepare your air conditioner for summer.
Inspect Outdoor Unit Panels
Your outside unit is encased in a big metal enclosure with panels on it. If you are missing any or the enclosure is not in place this can make running your AC risky business. The enclosure protects you from the electrical equipment inside and the equipment from most debris. When the wind picks up, occasionally all or part of the enclosure could come loose so check for this and if you do find it to be out of place, call a professional. If you are not a trained HVAC technician we highly recommend for your own safety that you do not touch anything inside the enclosure due to the amount of electricity that flows through the unit and so that you do not damage the unit unintentionally. This is usually a quick and easy fix for an HVAC professional.
Remove Condenser Covers
If you have placed a cover over the unit to protect it from debris while not in use, pat yourself on the back for taking a good preventative measure. Then remove it before you start to use the unit again. Leaving these in place and running the unit can cause extremely costly damage to the system. Heat needs to be able to leave the system through panels and having the unit covered while running would prevent that necessary heat transfer. Far too many people forget this every year and it results in a major repair or system replacement. Mark your calendar and take the cover off before turning the air on.
Replace Damaged Pipe Insulation
Look for the large copper pipe attached to your outdoor unit. This is your suction line which sends refrigerant to the compressor outside. It should be encased in foam insulation. Any number of things like the sun or simply age can damage this insulation which would result in a loss of the cooling needed to run the unit. If you find this is damaged inspect the pipe for a size. Then you can check your local hardware store for the proper size of insulation and replace it yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this by all means call a professional, but this is a pretty safe and easy fix if you want to save a few bucks. Just remember not to run the unit until there is insulation in place. Also you might notice a smaller second copper line, but this one does not need insulation.
Winter storms and wind have a way of blowing debris around and if your outdoor unit isn’t shielded or fenced in, any number of things can blow into the coil or get stuck in the side panels. Before you turn the unit on make sure nothing is stuck as debris can block the airflow needed to run your system efficiently and in extreme cases can cause a lot of damage. If your unit is on the side of your house consider fencing it in on both sides so that wind won’t be as likely to blow debris into the unit. Remove any obstructions and take care when mowing that you aren’t shooting mulch from the mower into the unit.
Change Air Filters
If you didn’t use your air conditioner for a while and didn’t replace the indoor air filter they can collect a large amount of dust. Change these before you start the unit again and continue to change them regularly while in use. This will make a noticeable difference in both your indoor air quality and the amount of money you spend on the power bill.
Remember that a maintenance plan can save you the time and trouble of having to take these steps so to sign up or ask any questions about preparing your air conditioner call 7th Generation Air Conditioning and Heating today at 941-966-1684.