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AC maintenance checklist

Posted on: April 13, 2011

Post Highlights

  • Make sure your AC is clean from top to bottom – check the compressor, coils, filters, etc.
  • Clean or replace your filters every month to ensure adequate airflow
  • If you ever need AC repair in MD or DC call James A. Wheat & Sons!

The temperatures are rising, the birds are chirping and the April rain is coming down – pretty soon everyone in your neighborhood will be firing up their air conditioners once again. Now you’re faced with two choices – you can switch your air conditioner on and hope for the best (it’s been a long winter – are you sure it will work?) or you can get air conditioning maintenance now – before the days start to get too hot, and before everyone else who didn’t get air conditioner maintenance starts calling in with broken ACs!

AC maintenance checklist

In order to ensure that your air conditioner will keep you cool this summer, proper air conditioning maintenance should include all of the following steps:

  • Clean the outdoor unit (compressor) and indoor unit (evaporator) –these are arguably the two most important parts of your air conditioner. The condenser holds the refrigerant lines and the fins that line the outdoor cabinet of your AC. The evaporator coil is the part of your AC that removes the heat from the air, making sure the air that gets blown into your house is cool.

    Needless to say, if you have dirt or debris on either your condenser or evaporator, it can reduce your overall air conditioner efficiency and potentially cause serious damage to your AC unit.

  • Top off your air conditioner refrigerant – too little refrigerant will cause your AC to work extra hard to provide cooling, reducing the efficiency (and, ultimately, the lifespan) of your unit. Too much refrigerant will cause your AC to short cycle, also reducing its efficiency.
  • Inspect air conditioner drip and drain pans – since air conditioners dehumidify in addition to cooling, they tend to build up a lot of moisture. If the drains are blocked, moisture can become trapped either in the unit or in your house, leading to potentially serious mold problems.
  • Check the outdoor fan blades and indoor blower – the outdoor fan is what pulls air into the air conditioner; the indoor blower is what moves it through your home. These may need to be readjusted as part of your air conditioning maintenance so they can provide maximum airflow.
  • Check the compressor and the refrigerant tubing
  • Lubricate all moving parts, if applicable
  • Inspect all electrical controls, wiring and connections
  • Run an air conditioner test – perhaps one of the most important steps of the air conditioning maintenance process is simply turning the AC unit off and on to check the operating functions such as the start cycle and shut off controls. The air conditioning contractor will also check for unusual noises or odors, measure indoor and outdoor temperatures and check system pressures as needed.
  • Check the ductwork for leaks or other potential problems – while yearly duct cleaning and maintenance isn’t necessarily required, you should definitely have your ducts checked out at least once every few years to make sure there are no leaks or inefficiencies. Ductwork problems are among the leading causes of inefficiency in most central AC systems – sometimes accounting for up to 30% losses in efficiency!

What AC maintenance steps can I do myself?

Home air conditioner maintenance may seems simple and trivial, but it can be extremely beneficial to keeping your air conditioner in good condition.

  • Clean or replace dirty air filters every month – this is the most important thing you can do for your air conditioner. If left long enough, dirty air filters can get so bad that they can cause your evaporator coil to freeze up completely! Make sure to change your air filters once a month to keep your air flowing as smoothly as possible.
  • Keep your condenser unit clear of any obstructions – your air conditioner condenser draws air in from around it, which it moves through your system and blows into your house as cool air. Needless to say, the compressor needs easy airflow! Cut back any trees or shrubs around your air conditioner compressor so that you have at least two feet of space around all sides.

When is the best time to schedule air conditioner maintenance?

If you’ve been thinking about getting air conditioner maintenance, don’t wait – now, early spring, is the absolute best time to get it. If you put off your air conditioner maintenance until the middle of the summer, you’ll be at the bottom of the list as everyone else in the Maryland and Washington, DC area scrambles to get their air conditioners serviced. Remember – preventative air conditioner maintenance is always better (and usually cheaper!) than air conditioner repair or replacement!

If you need air conditioning maintenance in Maryland or Washington, DC, call the air conditioning experts at James A. Wheat & Sons today!