The return of Daylight Savings Time means longer, warmer days and more demand for the cooling comfort your home's A/C system provides. With spring well underway, now is a good time to get your A/C system ready for the warmer weather ahead. The following tips can help your A/C system spring forward just in time to beat the heat.
Dust Those Dirty Ducts
Over time, dust and debris can accumulate within your HVAC system's ductwork, allowing airborne pollutants to travel throughout the rooms in your home. This not only impacts the way your A/C system delivers its airflow, but it can also negatively impact your home's indoor air quality. Pollen, pet dander and other common airborne pollutants can trigger allergy symptoms and asthma in children, the elderly and other vulnerable individuals.
You can use a wet/dry shop vacuum with a soft brush attachment to remove dust and debris from accessible portions of your ductwork. These portions include the return air intake, supply air registers and areas immediately surrounding the blower fan. Keep in mind that you might not be able to reach every corner of your ductwork, so don't hesitate to call on a professional to clean those otherwise inaccessible areas.
Give the Evaporator Coil a Thorough Cleaning
Located within the indoor cabinet on most central A/C systems, the evaporator coil plays an instrumental role in keeping your home cool. Unfortunately, dust and debris can settle on the coil over time. The coil is also susceptible to mold, mildew and algae growth. Such growth can block air from flowing through the coil, robbing it of its ability to draw latent heat out of the surrounding air.
A simple combination of warm water and mild dishwashing detergent is usually all that's needed to clean the evaporator coil. When cleaning, gently scrub the coil surface with a soft bristle brush, taking care to not bend or otherwise damage the fragile aluminum fins lining the coil's surface.
You can also use a foaming no-rinse cleaner to clean the evaporator coil without actually handling the coil itself. All you'll need to do is spray the cleaner and wait for the foaming action to subside. The foam will eventually drain off the evaporator coil, taking any dirt and grime found on the coil with it.
Check and Clean the Drip Tray and Drain Line
The condensate drip tray helps collect condensation that forms on and near the evaporator coil. It's not unusual for dirt and grime to settle on the bottom of the tray, and some of it can even end up in the drain line. In some cases, this can cause the drain to clog and the contents of the drip tray to overflow. The tray can also harbor mold and mildew growth under the right conditions.
Before putting your A/C system into service, empty the drip tray with your wet/dry shop vacuum and give the tray a thorough cleaning. Any clogs in the drain line can be broken up with a small hand auger or the suction force of your shop vacuum. Use bleach or white vinegar to disinfect the drip tray and drain line.
Inspect and Clean the Outdoor Cabinet
Before starting your A/C system, check the outdoor condenser cabinet for any signs of damage. All dents and dings should be carefully examined to make sure the condenser coil and its coil fan weren't damaged. You'll also want to inspect the unit for frayed wiring or missing insulation, which are often common signs of animal habitation during the winter.
After clearing away any and all vegetation from around the unit, use a garden hose to rinse any dirt and debris you happen to see off the condenser coil. Afterwards, let the coil dry before turning the A/C unit on.
Don't Forget About Your A/C Air Filter
Your A/C air filter should be changed at least every 3 months, although most experts recommend monthly changes for better A/C performance and improved indoor air quality. Make sure your air filter also has the correct MERV rating for your A/C system, as this can impact overall performance and efficiency.
For more tips and information, talk with a professional air conditioning service company.