Prep your AC for Summer

Finally the days are getting warmer — maybe a little TOO warm. But before you simply turn on your AC, make sure it’s in good shape and safe for your family when the weather is scorching.

If you’ve got a central AC unit, it’s always best to to have a professional inspect the unit, check the ductwork, and make sure it’s operating efficiently. But if you have a window or portable unit, a lot of the upkeep can be done yourself.

No matter your air conditioner type, the experts shared five tips and tricks that you easily do.

1. Change the Filters
The most important thing you can do is change the air filter in your AC. Every air conditioner has an air filter. And if you don’t change or clean it, the airflow will be weak and ineffective. Pleated filters work best if you have a central system and it is recommended that you check your filter every 3 months – more if you have pets or suffer from allergies.

For window, wall-mounted, or portable units, you can open the air conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions and remove the filter to clean. Dust off the filter and rinse with lukewarm soapy water, then dry. Make sure the filter is completely dry before you place it back in the unit. Do this every 2 weeks.

2. Clean the Coils
Coils help move the hot and cold air, so you want to make sure that they’re not clogged with dirt and dust. In a central air conditioning system, you can easily clean the outdoor condenser unit before you get a professional to inspect the rest of the parts.  Have a look at the unit and see if there’s any dirt, grass clippings, or other kinds of items blocking the exterior fins. Turn off the unit and carefully spray it down with a hose, making sure to not get the electrical box wet. Let it dry completely before you turn it back on.  Covering your unit up in the cooler months, will make this clean up much easier in the summer.

For window and portable units, open up the air conditioner to get to the coils. Brush away any dirt from the air conditioner coils with a soft brush or cloth, then clean away any additional dirt with a water-filled spray bottle. Try putting a little bit of mild detergent or dishsoap in the bottle if the debris is hard to remove. Window units also have outside fins in the back—you can clean those the same way.

3. Clear Any Roadblocks
Airflow is absolutely critical to cooling systems, so make sure there aren’t any beds, dressers, clothes, books, or other items blocking the unit vents.

4. Check for Common Problems
Weak airflow, icy coils, and leakages in all types of units could indicate that there’s blockage in your air conditioner or your filter is clogged. Leaks in a central air conditioner could also suggest its pumps and tubes might be damaged or blocked, which will mean it’s time to call in expert help.