When spring arrives, it's common to start thinking about sprucing up your home. This is the time when you clean out the garage, the attic, the basements, and the closets. However, spring cleaning time is also a good time for some home air conditioner maintenance. Depending on the weather in your area, you may not be using your AC for a few months, or you may be ready to turn it on right now. Either way, it probably has not been used much during the winter months, and it may need some attention before you're ready to turn it back on full time. Take a look at some spring cleaning tips that will help you keep your home air conditioner in top shape when you need it.
Clean Your Outdoor Unit
The winter is not always the best time for yard work. But now that the snow has melted, it's time to see what was under it that needs cleaning up, and that includes your air conditioner's outdoor unit. Over the fall and winter months, the unit may have collected leaves, twigs, and other yard debris that fell into the unit's housing.
This outdoor unit is where your air conditioner's compressor and exhaust fan are located. If there are debris that stop the exhaust fan from turning properly, it can limit the efficiency of your unit and even cause the compressor to overheat, which could result in expensive damage. Remove any large debris that have fallen into the house, and use your garden hose to spray out leaves and lawn clippings that may be stuck in the grill.
Spring comes with beautiful blooming plants and flowers, but that also means pollen, which can work its way indoors by clinging to your shoes or clothes and end up in your HVAC system. What's more, your system may have built-up dust if it's been sitting unused for the last few months. If you suffer from allergies, turning on the air conditioner in the spring could be a recipe for an allergy attack. Before you start your air conditioner this spring, take the time to reduce your allergen exposure.
Dust your air registers and air return vents. Remove the covers from your bathroom fans so that you can dust off the blades, and clean the covers in warm, soapy water before replacing them. Check moist or humid areas, like your condensate drip pan and drain, evaporator coils, and air handler for signs of mold. And make sure that you replace your filter with one that's rated to filter out allergens. This is called a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating.
MERV ratings range from 1 to 16, and the appropriate MERV rating for most home air conditioners is between 8 and 12. However, if your air conditioner can handle the greater resistance from a higher rated filter, you could use a filter with a MERV rating of 13 or higher. Not all air conditioners are designed to work with filters rated about MERV-12, so ask your HVAC specialist if you're not sure about yours.
Check Your Pipe Insulation
The large copper pipe on your outdoor unit is called your suction line, and it should be insulated to protect against a loss of energy as it sends refrigerant to the indoor unit. After being exposed to the elements all winter, this insulation could be damaged. Not only could damaged insulation cause you to lose energy and cooling, but it could also damage your system, so make sure to check this insulation.
If some of the insulation is missing, or if it's become frail and brittle, you'll need to replace it. Check the size of the pipe and ask for the insulation that fits that size at your local hardware store. Remember that you only need to insulate the large pipe. The smaller copper pipe does not need to be insulated.
Spring is also a good time to have an HVAC contractor give your AC system a routine inspection. Call a local HVAC service, such as Classic Air and Heating, to schedule an appointment before the weather gets too hot.