Tune up your air conditioner now to avoid the hot-weather service rush.
“Heating and cooling is the single biggest energy consumer in a home, and accounts for about 40% of all the energy used by home owners,” said Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of AHRI. “That’s why taking steps to ensure the unit is running as efficiently as possible can help offset cooling costs this summer.”
Check the air filter and change it if it’s dirty, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, to keep dust from collecting on the evaporator coil fins.
Keeping your filter clean can cut energy consumption 5% to 15%. Turn off the power to the air handler before pulling the filter out so that the fan doesn’t come on and blow dust throughout the home. Be sure to position the new filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Clear away leaves, grass, weeds, plants, and other debris that block airflow through the outdoor condensing unit, which is the large metal box in your yard next to your home. Anything that collects on the unit’s fins will block airflow and reduce its efficiency. Grass clippings thrown by the lawn mower are particularly common offenders.
Occasionally clean the outdoor condensing unit by spraying it with a water hose.
Check to make sure air vents inside your home are not obstructed by furniture. Air in your home needs to circulate easily through the vents. Your air conditioner works less when air can circulate freely.
- Check for the correct amount of refrigerant and test for refrigerant leaks.
- Capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system.
- Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems.
- Measure air flow through the evaporator coil.
- Check the accuracy of the thermostat.
- Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously.
- Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary.
- Check belts and oil motors for tightness and wear.
“With proper maintenance, central air conditioning and heat pump units should last at least 12 to 15 years,” said Yurek. “Home owners need to regularly service their heating and cooling equipment to keep them running smoothly. Spring is a great time to think about getting service before hot weather arrives and the rush for service is in full swing,” he added.