Spring Central Air Conditioner Maintenance - What to do before turning on your AC this spring!

by Steve Beeler of RSC Heating and Air Conditioning LLC.

When spring rolls around, it is important to make sure your air conditioning system is clean and ready to work. Central AC maintenance is easy and can extend the overall life expectancy of your unit, which can save you a lot of money in the long-run. Before you turn your AC on this spring, make sure to follow these procedures to save both energy and money!

Change or Clean AC filters

It is important to have clean air filters so your system is not working harder than it should. A dirty air filter forces a cooling system to work overtime and therefore, unable to deliver the required amount of air through your home. By changing or cleaning your air filter, the air in your home will also have fewer allergens resulting in cleaner air for your family.

On average, your air filter should be replaced about every three months. If you have a pet, you will want to be more conscious of keeping your filter clean. Pet hair and dander add a tremendous amount of particulates into the air that will cause your air filter to get dirtier, faster.

Cut away and clean out any debris or foliage

Your outdoor AC unit needs room to breathe. If it is being crowded by bushes and unwanted debris that gathered around it during the winter, your system won't be able to get the air it needs causing it to overheat.

Be aware, if you do not trim the bushes or shrubbery that surrounds your air conditioner, it could grow into the unit, which will cause even more serious issues and possibly the need for a system replacement.

How dirty can an exterior AC unit get??

The images below are not typical, but they clearly show how badly clogged an exterior central air conditioning can get when ignored!

Clean out ducts, vents, and registers

When was the last time you had the ducts of your home cleaned? If you can't remember, then you should have it done.

If you see a layer of grime and dust on your vents and registers, clean those too. If you don't clean them off, once you turn your system on, the air blowing through the vents will push any dust particles into your home reducing the overall air quality.

Schedule a maintenance check

Regardless the age of your system, it is good to schedule a maintenance checkup with your local HVAC company. Planning ahead to have your system serviced before you need to turn it on could prevent property damage or being in the position of having your unit replaced when you need it most. 

When a technician comes to service your system, they should measure the amperage draw of the following items: the entire outdoor unit, the outdoor fan motor, the compressor, and the overall indoor unit. The maintenance check should also consist of testing all system capacitors against ratings, the thermostat operation, and the temperature difference between the return and supply air.

In addition to checking these ratings, the technician should also check the air filter, condensate drain line, condensate pump (if your unit has one), seals on the ductwork (to make sure no leaks are present), listen for any unusual noises, and look closely for mold or mildew growth. Depending on how early in the spring you have your system checked, the technician should also make sure the humidifier is shut down for the summer and the by-pass dampers have been shut.

If you do not practice good maintenance habits or schedule routine maintenance, you can expect bad things to happen. Your system will have to work harder, your energy costs will be higher, a shorter system life expectancy, insufficient cooling and dehumidification, louder system operation, and unreliable operation. By not maintaining your system, you could also potentially void your manufacturer's warranty.

Save money with a programmable or smart thermostat

While you are thinking of your spring to-do list, you may want to make note to replace your thermostat with a smart or programmable control. Doing so will help you maintain the temperature in your home more effectively and will save you money on energy bills. You will be happy you made the switch when winter rolls around, too.

Spring is here and before you know it, you'll be switching on your air conditioning to maintain the level of comfort in your home. Before you do so, make sure you have taken the proper measures first!

About the author: Steve Beeler is the Owner and President of RSC Heating and Air Conditioning LLC. His company has been servicing customers in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania region for almost 30 years. Due to outstanding operational excellence and industry expertise, RSC Heating and Air has received the national Carrier President's award eight times and counting.