If you are like most people, preparing your AC unit for the summer months is not on your priority list. It’s understandable, summer seems so far away, and your AC unit is perfectly fine anyway.
What could go wrong, right? However, if you want to chill and beat the summer heat (and save money while at it), preparing your AC for the summer months should rank high in your list of priorities during spring.
When your AC unit sits idle for several months, it can end up collecting dust and debris. Without proper maintenance, you might not be able to get it up and running in time for the summer months.
The good news is, there’s no shortage of ways you can prepare your AC unit accordingly so you won’t have to spend money for repairs when it won’t run as expected. Aside from investing in AC preventative maintenance, below are other ways you can properly prepare your AC unit for the scorching summer heat:
Carefully turn on the circuit breaker
Most homeowners turn off their outdoor unit’s circuit breaker during the winter. It is recommended that you carefully turn your circuit breaker back on at least 24 hours before you power up your air conditioning unit in the spring. To turn the circuit breaker on, you need to find your home’s breaker panel first.
Open the panel carefully and look for the breaker switch labeled AC. Flip the breaker switch to the on position. Ensure you don’t use any tools and you are not standing in water when you turn the breakers on and off.
Turn your all the way down
Many homes with central air conditioning often have furnace-mounted humidifiers for the entire house. These units are designed to maintain the power humidity levels at home during the winter months. Before starting up your AC unit in the spring, it is recommended that you turn the humidistat off or down.
If your humidifier has a screen or pad to hold the water during evaporation, make sure you check for mineral deposits. Clean or replace the function when needed. If the humidifier has collected dry deposits or dust, make sure to vacuum them out as well. Make it a point also to check your furnace room periodically to ensure there is no water collecting on the floor.
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Wait until it is warm before starting up your AC unit
When possible, stand by your unit and have someone else turn the thermostat to cooling. Listen to the operation of the outdoor fan and compressor. After the initial start-up sounds, your unit should be humming away in 30 seconds. Check if the outdoor fan is running quickly as well.
Also, make sure the unit will not start and stop erratically. Cold air should be blowing inside the house, while hot air should be blowing out of the top of your outdoor condensing unit. The first time you turn your AC unit on, make sure the system is set to run for at least 15 minutes.
Check the refrigerant lines
Two refrigerant lines run from the outdoor unit to your indoor air handler. The large copper pipe found on your outdoor unit is the suction line. The suction line works by bringing the cold refrigerant back to your compressor. Your suction line should be insulated. Touch the suction fitting or the suction line for a minute and make sure it’s cold.
If you encounter any issues, make sure to turn your AC unit off right away
If there’s no air or if the air does not feel cool at all, something is wrong. Turn the system off immediately. It would also be a good idea to go through the checklist one more time. If the problem will persist, turn the system off, and have it checked by a trusted professional.
A brief but thorough inspection of your AC unit before summer can help ensure it runs smoothly when you need it the most. Also, when inspecting your unit, it would be wise to note the overall health of your system so you can assess if you need professional help.
About the author
Rachel Watson is the Senior Content Editor of Precision Air & Plumbing, a full-service HVAC, plumbing and home performance contractor operating in Chandler, Arizona. Rachel enjoys yoga and writing articles about how to make home living more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.