Your air conditioner should be part of your annual spring cleaning checklist. When you give it the attention it needs, it’ll serve your home for well over a decade and help keep your cooling costs down. Consider these six spring cleaning tips for your AC to make sure that it’s ready for the heat and humidity this summer.
1. Change or Clean Your Air Filter
Start by changing or cleaning your air filter. Systems with a central air handler use disposable filters that need periodic replacing, while ductless and mini-split systems have washable filters.
For replaceable filters, how often you need to replace them depends on their size, your air quality, and the filter’s style. The common 1- and 2-inch filter needs replacing about every 30 to 90 days, with larger, specialized filters typically lasting longer. Washable filters for ductless and mini-split systems need cleaning approximately every 30 days.
2. Replace Your Thermostat Batteries
Chances are your thermostat has batteries that will need replacing periodically. While the thermostat doesn’t generally rely on those batteries for day-to-day operation, they’re still important: if power to your system gets cut off, such as from a power outage or wiring issue, your thermostat will switch to battery power to run and to maintain any programs you might have set.
When you replace the batteries, make sure you use a quality single-use alkaline battery rather than a rechargeable option. While rechargeables are great for some things, they deliver a smaller volt charge than single-use alkaline batteries. In fact, a standard alkaline AA battery delivers 1.5 volts, whereas a comparable rechargeable only delivers 1.2 volts. The relative lack of power can pose a problem for thermostats if they need to use the batteries in case of emergency.
3. Clear Clutter From Your Vents
It’s easy for things to slowly encroach on the vents that work to cool your home with a central AC system. This can include small things like toys, pillows, and linens, but may also be large things like furniture. You may have even intentionally closed the damper in some of your vents.
For your system to cool your home effectively and efficiently, the system must circulate air using the pressure the system creates. When a supply or return vent becomes blocked or closed, it restricts that pressure and inhibits air circulation. Check your dampers to make sure they are open, then ensure that every supply vent has at least a 2-inch clearance above and around it. The clearance your return vent needs depends on its size, so check with your HVAC technician for their recommendation.
4. Clean Your Condensate Drain
Your air conditioner draws moisture from the air as it moves over the cold evaporator coils. That moisture then drops down into a drip pan that has a drain to prevent it from collecting and spilling out next to your system.
That drain can become clogged over time, which prevents the condensate from draining. Some systems have a safety switch that will shut down your air conditioner if it senses condensate backing up in the tray. To resolve light, clean the condensate drain with 1 cup of distilled vinegar. Shut the system off, find the drain access, and pour in the vinegar. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then turn your AC back on.
5. Clear the Area Around Your Outdoor Unit
Just like your system needs to move air around your home to work properly, the outdoor condensing unit must also move air. For the outdoor unit, you want to make sure there’s nothing caught in the grate or the exterior of the coils. You also want to ensure that all grass, weeds, and other landscaping is properly distanced from the unit. The minimum recommendation is 12 inches all the way around, though 2 to 3 feet is ideal. Provide 5 feet above the unit to ensure it doesn’t retain heat that can damage the compressor.
6. Schedule Spring AC Maintenance
Finally, schedule professional spring AC maintenance with your trusted HVAC provider. During this visit, a technician will do a deep dive into your system to clean it, test its components, and tighten electrical connections and mounting hardware. This helps keep your system running optimally, protects your factory warranty, and catches small problems early before they have a chance to further damage your system.
When people around Margate think about keeping their homes comfortable, they think of Dr. HVAC Inc. Our expert technicians provide heating and AC maintenance, repair, and installation, combined with indoor air quality solutions. Call to schedule your spring AC maintenance appointment in Florida with one of our experienced technicians today.