As the summer days get longer and the number on the thermostat rises our air conditioners work overtime. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping the AC doesn’t shut down halfway through the summer, use these 9 hacks to keep it up and running all season long.
Safety Tip: Before working on anything that uses electricity, make sure you unplug it or turn off the power at the service panel near the AC unit.
1. Clear It Out
Throughout the year debris gets caught in and around the AC unit. This buildup of debris can cause a number of issues that can lead to the early demise of the unit. Clearing away the leaves and trimming back the grass and bushes is easy enough, but what about the stuff that gets stuck inside? Simply remove the screws that are holding the cage to the unit and carefully lift it away. Using a brush, wet/dry vacuum, or your hand can clear out any trapped debris.
2. Clean It Up
After a long winter dirt builds up on the metal grating around the unit called the fins. A garden hose attachment set to a strong spray level should get them nice and clean. If the fins are really dirty you can get a cleaning spray designed specifically for AC fins. Sometimes they can get bent out of place, creating a blockage that prevents air flow. When this happens, you can use a butter knife or a fin comb to get them back into their proper place.
3. Clean the Coil
The evaporator coil is located inside in the blower/furnace unit. You may need to remove a grate that covers the coil to be able to access it. Simply dust off the coil and clean using a no-rinse coil cleaner. You’ll want to clean out the drip pan once all of the cleaner has dripped off of the coil.
4. Check the Air Duct
Atlas Heating & Air Service said, “After months of non-use, air ducts can become obstructed”. Remove the vents and check to make sure there is nothing hanging out down there that will prevent the cold air from making its way inside. Often just a simple cleaning with a wet/dry vacuum can go a long way in helping to reduce the dust and keep your AC working its best.
5. Insulate the Coolant Lines
The foam insulation that covers the coolant lines can become torn or frayed. Uncovered lines can lose energy more rapidly than they should. Replace the missing or damaged insulation with new foam sleeves. Be sure to not insulate any lines that weren’t originally covered by the installer. There is a smaller line that is warm and carries refrigerant back inside. This line should remain uncovered.
6. Clean the Drain Line
This simple hack can keep your drain clear of clogs for the whole summer. Pour one cup of bleach down the AC drain followed by one gallon of water to clean out any blockage that may have built up.
7. Check the Filters
Maintaining the filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your air conditioner in tip-top shape. When you let your filters sit untouched, they get clogged with dirt, dust, and allergens that would otherwise be floating around the air in your home. When you don’t replace or clean the filter the airflow becomes restricted which reduces the efficiency of the air conditioning unit and leaves dust floating through the air.
8. Make Sure It’s Level
A big reason for early AC failures is because it’s not level. When the unit is unlevel it can cause the compressor to fail. Check to make sure the pad hasn’t shifted due to weather erosion. It’s a lot easier to relevel the pad than to replace the compressor. There is an exception to this rule. If you have a heat pump system you’ll want to make sure there is a slight slope to the pad. This allows the run-off from the defrost to drain away from the foundation during the winter.
9. Don’t Forget About It
A simple AC hack to keep your system running correctly is to check on it throughout the season. Check the condenser and the drip pan. The water that accumulates can cause mold and make the air smell. Clean them both every one to two months to make sure they are performing their best.