How To Prep Your Air Conditioner After Winter

Posted on: 24 January 2018

Since it is winter, your home's air conditioner is probably the last thing on your mind. However, spring will soon be here, which means you'll need to start preparing your air conditioner for hot days. Since many HVAC specialists get booked in the spring and fall—before the hottest and coldest months—it's important to put AC prep on your to-do list.

Change Your Filters

If your AC filters haven't been changed since the AC was last used, they are probably very dirty. The first thing you will want to do before chaning the filters is to turn off the power. You don't want to touch live voltage should you mess up taking the filters out. If you are not comfortable doing this, then an HVAC professional can help.

Once the power is off, you'll want to locate the air filters. Some filters are located in a return air duct—where air is pulled from the space back into the air handler system. Other filters are located near the blower system of your furnace. If you aren't sure where to look, consult your owner's manual.

Changing out the filter is actually pretty easy. Filters can just be slid out of their slots. If the filter isn't very transparent and has lots of dirt and dust, it should be changed. Some filters are disposable, while others are reusable. If you have a disposable filter—usually ones with cardboard frames—you can throw it away and buy a new one. Reusable filters have sturdier frames, and they can be washed and reused.

Once the filter is washed or replaced, you can insert it back into the slot and turn the power back on.

Clean the Condenser Unit

Again, turn off your electrical power before fiddling with the condenser. If you aren't comfortable with this step, then ask an HVAC professional to do it. Uncover your unit once any snow has melted and the temperature is about 60 degrees. You'll want to test your unit out well before the summer months.

You'll also want to clean out the condenser fins, or the metal blades that are in the unit. These fins are likely very dirty from decaying leaves, dirt, seeds, dead grass, etc. Use a soft brush to loosen and scrub debris off of the fins. Be careful, though, as many condenser fins can be fragile. If you do accidentally bend a fin—or the fin was bent during the wintertime—you can purchase a fin comb from a hardware store and bend it back in place.

Lastly, spray down the fins with a hose. Don't use a power washer or any other high-pressure tool, as that could bend the fins.

Set an Appointment with an HVAC Specialist

Once you've tested your cleaned the filters and condenser unit, you can run the AC and take note of any hiccups in the system. You'll want an HVAC specialist to stop by and check out your system some time in the spring. He or she can check for low coolant levels and other problems that may need addressing.

It's important to set an appointment with HVAC specialist because he or she will let you know if you need to replace components or the entire system. Angie's List says that if the cost of repairs is more than $5,000, you may as well replace the entire unit. Since it may take time to replace, it's important that this done as soon as the weather starts turning. Talk with an air conditioning specialist for more tips.