Is your AC working this year?
Live in Ontario long enough, and you’ll swear that there are only two seasons, summer and winter. There are times we suffer frigid temperatures and put our boilers and furnaces through their paces, and then practically overnight we’re sweating in scorching heat and testing the limits of our AC units.
If you haven’t already, it won’t be long before you join quite a few of your fellow homeowners in enjoying what your central air conditioner can do for you. Early in the season is the perfect time to check over your system to see if any maintenance is necessary or there are problems that require fixing. You may choose to handle simple issues on your own or call in a service professional before things get too hot and they get too busy. If you just wait and say a silent prayer when you do get to the first day so hot you need AC, you might wind up suffering days of discomfort as you have to wait for the repairs that you need.
You can take several easy steps as part of a physical and visual inspection over the various system components if you want to have the peace of mind that your AC is going to work later when you really need it to.
This process will cover equipment both internal and external.
Interior Equipment Crucial to Your Health and Comfort
Start with switching your thermostat into an ‘off’ positions. Secondly, turn the temperature to something relatively high, like about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, you can do the following:
1) Look at your thermostat. Would you consider it outdated? The purchase and installation of a new thermostat that you can program can save you a lot of energy use, which also means you save money too.
2) Look over all your exposed ductwork. You’re specifically looking for signs of wear, as these can be causes of system inefficiency or loss of cooling in your home.
3) Next, look at all of your home’s air vents. Remove anything that might impede the airflow. These can include toys, drapes, or furniture.
4) Also, check your drain line. The indoor cooling coil should have a drain right beside it. It’s frequently mounted over the basement furnace.
If your drain line gets clogged, then the water will have to go some other place. What will happen is water will start backing up inside the drain pan, and that can cause water damage in your home. You should have a professional clean out your drain lines annually.
5) Change the air filter. Your filter should either get changed four times a year or just following the manufacturer guidelines. You certainly want it changed at the start of any new season, hot or cold.
6) Check your home’s circuits to make sure that the necessary electrical connections are actually on.
7) Make sure the power is in the ‘on’ position for your AC/furnace unit.
After you take the indoor factors listed above, it’s time to step outside so you can check for wear and tear, as well as overgrowth.
Exterior Equipment Your AC Can’t Do Without
8) Start your outdoor inspection with the condenser unit. Be sure it is free of blockages both in or near any equipment. Clean up the surrounding area the best you can. Debris, including leaves and vines, are able to block interior components, which would impact performance.
You also need to keep an eye open for missing panels. These panels are supposed to keep electrical connections enclosed.
9) Do a visual check of your refrigerant lines. These lines need to be insulated. When your system has appropriate insulation, its efficiency will be higher. If there need to be repairs to either the refrigerant lines or the insulation, then a professional should handle them.
10) Verify there isn’t wear and tear on any outdoor electrical wiring. If you spot any, get a professional to come service the unit before you use it at all.
11) Know when the time has come to retire your air conditioners. They don’t last forever. Even with proper maintenance, it’s going to wear out eventually.
Still, there’s good news even in the case of a replacement. Even if you have to replace an air conditioner after just a decade, getting a new model means you will have something more efficient. Your cooling utility costs should be anywhere from 20 to as much as 40 percent lower each month that you use it.
Time to Chill
Once you do all the steps listed above to check your internal and external equipment like listed above, then you can finally activate your system in order to test it.
The first step in this process is lowering your thermostat temperature to where you would like to be. Room temperature for most families is 68F to 74F. Then, turn the system to the ‘on’ setting.
Secondly, head back outside so you can listen for a few minutes. Be sure that the condenser fan is not only running but doesn’t have any irregular sounds. Hold a hand over the top of your unit to feel the air coming out. Don’t worry if it feels warm, because it should. That’s the warmth being sucked out of your home.
Third, keep your system running for a quarter of an hour, if not longer. You want to get to the point that you notice the temperature in every corner of your home cooling down.
Generally speaking, you need to have a certified service technician perform routine maintenance on your air conditioning system if it’s going to stay running well for that year. If you find anything or just have concerns during your own AC inspection, then it’s smart to get a professional to come out before summer, since that’s when you’ll need it to be ready and they might be much busier.