There were a few days earlier this month that felt like we were in the tropics! The sun was hot and the humidity made it feel well into the 30′s. Needless to say, the record breaking heat wave here in Bolton and across much of Southern Ontario set the stage for what looks to be a great summer!
And of course, with the heat there are some “Do it yourself” tips on prepping your AC to start up for the first time this season.
- First, remove the winter cover. Believe it or not, we get several “no cooling” maintenance calls every spring because people have started up their central air conditioning units and forgotten to remove the cover!
- Make sure the outdoor unit is free of any debris. Clear away any branches or leaves that may have accumulated over the winter and may be obstructing the outdoor coil or fan.
- Check the outdoor coil. If it’s covered with dirt or lint from a nearby dryer vent, its performance will be diminished. The outdoor coil is like the radiator in your car, rejecting all the heat in the home. The cleaner it is, the more effective and efficient it works. With power to the unit turned OFF, you can spray it down with a hose. Aim at a 15-degree angle to the coil. And NEVER use a pressure washer! It’ll flatten the fins and decrease efficiency.
- Check the furnace filter. A blocked filter will cause your central air conditioning unit to ice up and it’ll provide only a fraction of cooling power to your home. If you hold the filter up to the light and you can see through it, then it’s still good. If not, replace it. Note: Never run the furnace or central air conditioning system without a filter in place. It’ll cause increased velocity in the return air duct and any dust in the ductwork will flow through the furnace and into the cooling coil.
And remember, cold air falls and hot air rises, so the second floor of most homes is the hardest to cool. Try closing all the vents in the basement, including the return air vents. You want to draw the heat from the first and second floors to condition it.
Drawing from the basement doesn’t help distribute cool air throughout the home, like some people think. The whole volume of air from the entire house has to pass through the coil in the furnace 3 times before it’s fully dehumidified and conditioned.
If you perform all of these central air conditioning maintenance steps and you’re still not getting enough cooling power, your A/C unit should be looked at by a professional. Central air conditioners don’t normally need much professional maintenance, but sometimes they’ll lose refrigerant over the winter, or a rodent may have done some damage to the wiring outside. And there can be other, unforeseen issues that require professional maintenance or repair.
If you make a point of following these central A/C maintenance tips every spring, your summers will be a lot more comfortable. And keep in mind, there are still some government rebates for switching A/C!