HVAC Summer Maintenance

The last thing you want during the hot summer months is an air conditioning malfunction. Take these steps to ensure you and your family keep cool all summer long.

An Overview of Central Air Conditioning

In order to understand how to prepare your HVAC unit for summer, you’ll need to be able to identify the basic parts of a split air conditioning system. These include both the outside unit and the indoor components.

The outside unit is the large metal box that sits on a concrete slab in your yard or on your roof. It consists of a condenser, compressor, coils, fins and a fan. This unit releases hot air outdoors and moves refrigerant to the indoor components. The parts inside your home include an air handler with a blower fan and an evaporator coil. They suck in warm air from the home, cool it by running it over the evaporator coil containing refrigerant and pump the newly cooled air back into your house.

Check the Outside Unit

One of the first things you’ll want to do after a long winter is to check the appearance of your outside unit. It is not uncommon for it to get dirty during winter due to a lack of maintenance and inclement weather. Be sure to remove any covers you used to protect the unit before turning on the air, as they will inhibit the system and cause damage.

Do an external scan of the unit. Make sure any plants, outdoor furniture or toys are at least two feet away. Also check that the unit is sitting level to the ground and that the panel, which protects the electrical wiring, is intact. Examine the refrigerant lines that run from the outdoor unit back into the house. The larger line, called the suction line, should have insulation. If the insulation has been damaged by weather or wildlife, replace it.

You will also want to clean the dirt and leaves from the coils and fins to make sure air can flow effortlessly throughout the unit. Turn off the power, unscrew the grilles and remove the top portion carefully, as the fan and its wires are attached.

Start clearing away the dust and debris from the coils by vacuuming them using a soft bristle attachment. Inspect the thin metal fins that run up and down the unit. If they have been damaged or bent, take a fine comb and run it gently through the metal to straighten them again. Next, use a garden hose to spray the coils and fins, aiming from the inside of the unit outward. Do not get water on the electric components in the panel or the internal wiring. Once the coils and fins are thoroughly rinsed, remove any built-up dirt inside the unit with a rag or vacuum and gently clean the fan. Once everything has dried, reassemble the unit.

Inspect Indoor Components

If you only do one thing to prepare your air conditioner for summer, make sure you replace the air filter. This is a quick and easy fix nearly everyone should be able to accomplish. Locate and remove the old air filter, which is usually hidden by a panel somewhere between the return duct or blower and the air handler. Look through your unit’s manual to see which air filters are compatible with your HVAC system, purchase one from the local hardware or home store and insert it. This filter should be replaced every month or two during summer and high-use seasons, and potentially even more frequently if someone in the household struggles with allergies or other respiratory issues.

The easiest component to forget is the coil drainage line, also called the condensate line. This hose allows condensation to drip away from the evaporator coil into a tray, where it eventually drains. However, this line can easily become blocked, meaning the water will back up into your air conditioner and the house, potentially causing serious structural damage. You want to avoid this at all costs!

To clean the condensate line:

• Use a shop vacuum to remove the blockage
• Pour a solution through the hose using a funnel (this could be algaecide, distilled vinegar or water and bleach)
• Rinse the solution through with water
• Clean any gunk out of the drain port

If you can’t salvage the condensate line, you can always buy a new one.

Make Sure Everything Runs

Now that everything is cleaned or replaced, you want to make sure that your air conditioner will turn on and run as expected. Give your system a while to kick on, but turn it back off if air doesn’t circulate or if the air coming from the vents isn’t cold. If you can’t identify the source of the issue, it’s best to call an HVAC professional.

Get an A/C Checkup From Kay Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.

If you’re not the DIY type or you’ve hit a snag, the CFC-certified technicians at Kay Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. can get your unit up and running for the summer. We have more than 40 years of experience serving the Greensboro area and understand the ins and outs of seasonal maintenance in North Carolina. Our team provides both residential and commercial air conditioning maintenance. If you want to make sure your home stays cool this summer, schedule an appointment by calling us at (336) 274-6323 today!

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