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Central Air Maintenance Tips: How to Keep Cool This Summer

Did you know the highest temperature ever recorded in the United States was 134 degrees Fahrenheit? That’s right! It happened in Death Valley in 1913.

While it’s not likely that you’ll experience this kind of extreme heat where you live, if your AC goes out in the middle of summer, it can certainly feel like it!

image - Central Air Maintenance Tips - How to Keep Cool This Summer
Central Air Maintenance Tips: How to Keep Cool This Summer

Don’t want to take the chance of suffering through even a few hours of this torture? Then you need to start thinking about your central air maintenance today.

Here are a few top tips to help ensure you stay cool and comfortable all summer long.

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Outdoor Central Air Maintenance

Your central air maintenance includes a few things you’ll need to do to your outside unit and some simple indoor tasks.

Don’t worry, though, the whole process shouldn’t take you much more than an hour or two. Here’s what to do outside.

  1. Remove Debris from Around the Unit

Before you start your AC maintenance, you’ll want to clear any brush, leaves, and other debris from around the unit.

This will give you more space to work. It will also help ensure that nothing gets pulled into your unit while you’re cleaning it or after you’re done.

Also, cut back any vegetation or branches that are growing too close. You’ll want to make sure your AC unit has at least two feet of clearance on all sides and up top. This will help ensure proper airflow, which is necessary for your unit to work efficiently.

You’ll also want to remove the cage or fan from your air compressor and gently pull out any debris that has fallen inside.

You can usually easily remove it with a screwdriver or wrench and then pull debris out by hand or use a wet/dry vacuum.

  1. Clean and Straighten the Fins

Next, remove the outer cover and use a shop vac with a brush attachment to remove dirt from the outside of the fins.

When you’re done, use your hose on a gentle spray setting to spray through the fins from the inside out. This will remove anything that’s built up between them.

Note that you should never use a pressure washer or even a strong hose setting as this can damage the fins.

If they’re very dirty and the hose doesn’t seem to be working, you can pick up some professional fin cleaner at your local home goods store.

Once they’re clean, carefully straighten out any bent fins with a butter knife. Just be very careful so you don’t accidentally damage the tubing that’s embedded within the fins.

While this task is a bit tedious, it’s well worth it. Any obstruction of airflow caused by bent fins will reduce your unit’s efficiency. This will cost you money in the form of higher power bills and will waste precious energy.

If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, consider hiring a pro. A simple Google search for “HVAC company in Richmond” (or wherever you live) will bring up plenty of experienced companies who will take care of your maintenance needs for you. This way, if something goes wrong, they’ll take on the liability.

  1. Level Your Unit

Your AC unit is likely situated on top of a thick concrete pad. Although this is very sturdy, as the soil beneath it settles, it can start to sink just a little bit. If the condenser unit isn’t level, it can cause your compressor to have a shorter lifespan.

You can prevent this by checking your unit with a level at least once a year. If you notice a problem, easily fix it with some rot-proof shims.

It is important to note that if you have a heat pump system it may be purposely sloped away from the house. This helps keeps wintertime run-off away from your home’s foundation. If this is the case, then you can simply skip this step.

Indoor AC Maintenance

Once you’ve completed all the steps above, the outdoor portion of your AC maintenance is complete. Now, there are a few things you need to do inside.

  1. Clean the Evaporator Coils

First, you’ll need to locate the coil door on your furnace or blower unit. Depending on your system, you may need to take out a few bolts or screws to gain access to your coils.

Once they’re exposed, dust them off with a soft brush and then spray them with a no-rinse coil cleaner. You can find this at the hardware or home goods store. This cleaner will foam up and then eventually drip down into the drain pan.

Next, remove the drain pan, dump it out, and clean it with hot water, soap, and a little bit of bleach. Then, pour a 50/50 mix of bleach and water down the drain. Finally, replace anything you removed and close the coil door.

  1. Remove Drain Line Clogs

If the bleach/water mixture you poured down the drain flows freely, you can skip this step. If not, there’s a good chance the drain line is plugged.

You can resolve this by attaching a powerful wet/dry vac to the end of the drain line, securing it with duct tape, and running the vacuum for two to three minutes. This should suck up anything that’s restricting flow through the line.

  1. Change the Air Filters

Finally, you’ll want to change out your air filter. This will ensure the best possible air quality and improve the efficiency of your AC unit. Make sure you use a filter with the same airflow rating as the one that you’re currently using.

Simply locate the air filter enclosure, pull out the old filter, and put in a new one. Always ensure that you match the air-flow direction arrows on the filter to the ones found on the unit. Close the door, and you’re done!

Find More Ways to Make Your Home Better This Summer

Now that you know all about central air maintenance, you can feel confident in knowing that your home will be cool and comfortable all summer long. Looking for even more ways to set up your game this summer?

Spend some more time browsing through our blog. We’ve got tips for everything from home improvement and decorating trends to great ideas to help you get the most out of your outdoor space. Make sure to bookmark us and check back often so you never miss a thing!

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