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The Essential AC Maintenance Checklist: Everything You Need to Know

ac maintenance checklist

It’s easy to forget that your air conditioner is even there until a problem occurs. 

However, neglected units work harder to do less without air conditioner maintenance and cause higher utility bills. As the summer heat arrives, your AC unit is about to get much heavier use, and routine maintenance also protects the machinery in the Air Conditioning. Routine maintenance is also important to check for any AC damage.

It’s common to feel stressed about maintaining and repairing your AC, but there are ways to keep it in tip-top shape. Yearly, homeowners should ask their technicians to inspect their AC unit.  

You can also do some maintenance yourself in only a couple of minutes. Use this checklist to make sure all of the important parts of your AC remain in good condition. Every step is important for routine maintenance.

Read below to see an itemized list of everything your AC needs to be in perfect condition this summer.

Test Your AC’s Performance

The technician or homeowner should test all of your AC’s basic functions first; for example, turn it on and off, look for any airflow issues, or note strange noises or smells. They should also check to make sure that the temperature in the residence is correct to the thermostat. Check your thermostat settings to ensure that it’s controlling the temperature properly. 

If you can pinpoint issues, you might have a better chance of fixing them.

Keep an Eye on Air Filters

The air filters are the best place to start to keep an air conditioner running smoothly. A homeowner’s goal should be to clean or replace their air filters monthly. Keep an eye on things getting caught in the filter, like hair and dust that clog up the airflow. A dirty filter strains your AC unit and leads to higher utility costs. Plus, your air conditioner will perform better, and you can save as much as 15 percent on utility bills.

If you have tenants, it may be good to remind them to change the air filter monthly and make sure that a professional maintains the primary air filter.

Examine the Drain Line and Drain Pan.

These drains avoid excess moisture in the AC unit or residence and must be clear to work properly. If the drain line or drain pan gets clogged, cleaning them can be messy. Clogged drains are notorious for causing water damage and humidity.

Start by inspecting the condensate drain and drain pans in the central air conditioner.  You might find a buildup of algae and bacteria. You or a professional should clean them using a bleach/water mixture and protective gear.

Check Indoor Evaporator Units and Outdoor Compressor Units

Most residential AC units have an outdoor compressor/condenser, which cools down refrigerant used in the air handling unit and feeds air to the HVAC system. The Outdoor Compressor coil consists of refrigerant lines and surrounding fins that line an outdoor A/C unit. An evaporator is an indoor unit similar to the Compressor with its own coil. 

Over time grime buildup will affect your AC’s performance. Keep your air conditioner running efficiently by cleaning dirty condenser coils and evaporator units.

Clean the coils by turning off the system, making sure the fan blades stop completely, opening up the unit, and cleaning dust and debris off of the coil. Do this with a small vacuum or a coil-cleaning spray (You can find this at your local hardware store). This runoff will end up in the drain pan, so make sure to clean that afterward.

Finally, restore the fins by cleaning and straightening them. This will cause an immediate improvement in airflow.

Inspect electrical wirings and controls.

Electrical issues in your HVAC can be more than an issue for your AC unit; they can also be dangerous for your home. It’s important to repair any faulty wires, inspect and tighten connections and test electrical controls. Also, ensure that the electrical voltage isn’t too high, as the energy will drain AC components and cause faster wear.

Over time these components may become worn. It’s necessary to replace them to maintain the safety of your HVAC system.

Lubricate Blower and Compressor Fans

AC units have moving parts like the Blower and Fans that need to stay lubricated to avoid friction and save electricity.

The outdoor fan motor and blades and indoor blower assembly should spin effortlessly. So make sure to check the motor, replace a belt if needed and keep moving parts oiled regularly.

Check Air Ducts

Air Registers and Ductwork need to be properly working to maximize airflow. Checking these may not be necessary every year, but the air ducts will build up dust and grime and may form leaks over time.

Clogged ducts are a common cause of air inefficiency problems, so it’s good to inspect them now and then.

You may need to replace parts for your AC ducts damaged by:

  • Animals and pests
  • Water 
  • Mishandling 
  • Corrosion

Check AC Compressor and Refrigerant.

Refrigerant tubing consists of metal tubes that carry refrigerant between the air handler and AC compressor in an air conditioning unit. This tubing helps regulate temperatures in the space. If there is too much or too little refrigerant, it can cause problems for your HVAC system.

The refrigerant tubing must be clear and secure to carry coolant to the compressor. If there is a puncture or an obstacle, the compressor can fail much faster. 

In the case of Refrigerant or tubing leaking, contact a professional technician for repairs immediately. Refrigerant is necessary in order for the AC unit to cool your home.

Need AC Maintenance?

This essential HVAC checklist for Air Conditioning maintenance covers issues that homeowners often run into. You can do some repairs at home, but some will need the experience of a professional. 

If you need professional HVAC Maintenance in Sterling, Virginia, Cardinal offers HVAC maintenance, repair, and installation services. 

To schedule service, contact us today here.

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