Spring is right around the corner, which means it won’t be that long before it’s time to shut off your heating and eventually turn on your air conditioning. Before this time comes, you should always take some preventative maintenance measures. Doing so will help ensure that your air conditioning works properly and cools effectively once you turn it on, and this checklist will help you know what specific steps you need to take.

Replace the Air Filter

HVAC manufacturers generally recommend replacing or washing air filters approximately once every three months. Central heating and air conditioning systems use the same air filter. As such, it’s always a good idea to just replace or wash the filter before you get ready to turn your air conditioning on for the first time. If the filter still looks fairly clean and isn’t dark colored or covered in lots of debris, you can probably get a bit more life out of it. However, you never want to go too long without replacing or washing the filter since it will make your AC less effective and decrease its energy efficiency. A dirty filter that is starting to get clogged up will also frequently lead to the interior part of your AC system (i.e. the evaporator coil) freezing up.

Most homes have only one air filter that is typically located inside the return duct just next to the furnace and air handler. However, some larger, multi-story homes have multiple air filters that are usually located behind the cover or grille of all of the return air vents. If you use disposable filters, all you need to do is remove the old one and insert the new one in its place. If you instead use reusable filters, you need to make sure to let the filter fully dry after washing it before putting it back in to prevent mold and mildew from forming.

With either type of filter, you also need to make sure that it faces the correct direction. For the filter to work, the arrow on it must point in the direction that air flows through it. This means the arrow should face toward the furnace/air handler or to the inside of the return vent.

Clean Around Your AC Condenser and Ensure It Has Adequate Clearance

Lots of leaves and other debris tend to collect around an AC unit over the fall and winter, and it is important to clean up all of this debris before turning your air conditioning on. If there are any bushes or other vegetation near the unit, you may also need to trim it all back so that there is a minimum of two feet of clearance around the front and sides of the unit.

Any debris or vegetation around the unit can prevent it from receiving proper airflow. If an AC unit doesn’t have sufficient airflow, it makes it much more difficult for it to release all of the heat it removed from the house. This results in the unit being under much more strain and will make the entire AC system work far less effectively.

Clean the Covers on All Supply and Return Air Vents

The covers on the supply and return air vents often get slowly clogged up with dust and especially pet hair so it’s a good idea to remove them and clean the inside and outside of each cover as part of your spring HVAC maintenance. Vacuuming out of the inside of every vent is also helpful for preventing the cover from clogging and improving airflow.

Making sure that the covers on the return air vents are clean and not clogged is especially important for ensuring that your air conditioning works effectively. If these vents are clogged, it will greatly reduce how much warm air gets drawn into the system and lead to it cooling much more slowly and using more energy. If the system isn’t drawing in much warm air, there is also a high chance that the evaporator coil can freeze.

You also want to make sure that the covers on all of the supply vents are fully open. Having a few vents closed usually isn’t a major issue, but it will still interfere with the airflow and make the system slightly less effective. If more than a few vents are closed, it will cause air to build up in the ducts and make it much harder for the blower to move air throughout your home. This can cause the blower to overheat or wear out more quickly, and it will also greatly limit how effectively the system cools.

Schedule a Professional AC Tune-Up

The most important part of maintaining your AC system is to schedule a professional tune-up every spring. Other than the things we mentioned in the previous sections, all of the other important AC maintenance tasks aren’t really something you can properly do yourself. This includes things like checking to make sure that the system has the correct amount of refrigerant and measuring the temperature drop to ensure it is cooling effectively. Professional maintenance also includes a complete inspection, which is obviously important for ensuring the system doesn’t need any repairs and doesn’t have any components that are wearing out and should be replaced.

Along with inspecting all of the indoor and outdoor parts of the AC system, the technician will also fully clean the blower, condenser coil and evaporator coil. Cleaning the two coils is definitely not something you should attempt yourself since you could easily bend or damage the fins or even put a hole in the coil and cause a refrigerant leak.

The condenser coil is located inside the outdoor unit, and the only way to access it is to remove the grate on top and the entire compressor fan assembly. If you tried to do this yourself, you could easily damage the wiring on the fan and cause it to not work until it is repaired or replaced. When cleaning the condenser coil, the technician will also clean out the entire inside of the AC unit and remove any leaves and debris to again ensure it has proper airflow.

Cleaning the coils is one of the most essential maintenance tasks. A dirty evaporator coil can easily freeze since dust and dirt will insulate it. This means that the refrigerant won’t be able to absorb much heat and may remain at a low enough temperature that the coil freezes and the AC system stops working. If the condenser coil is dirty, the refrigerant won’t be able to release all of the stored heat properly and the outdoor unit could easily begin overheating.

By having your AC professionally maintained each spring, you can reduce the chances of the system breaking down and prevent potentially expensive repairs. Maintenance also ensures that the system works at its peak energy efficiency so that you don’t need to pay as much to keep your home cool. Getting your AC system serviced will also help to protect and potentially extend the lifespan of the entire system.

Universal Heating & Cooling has been providing exceptional air conditioning and heating services to residents in Springfield, Springboro and the Dayton area for nearly 50 years. We specialize in HVAC maintenance and repairs, and our team can also assist if you need to install a new central AC, heat pump, furnace or ductless mini-split. Contact us today if you need to schedule a spring AC maintenance and tune-up or any other HVAC service.


company icon