Think about the last time you participated in a sport or activity that requires training and conditioning. Whether it was last week or years ago, you know that to perform, you must be in the right shape for the reactions and movements demanded of you.
Imagine being an out-of-shape baseball player stepping to the plate with a splintering bat to face a flaming-fastball pitcher. In another scenario, envision not having had a doctor’s physical for several years, developing cramps and shin splints, and not hydrating yourself and then entering a 5K race.
In this way, an air conditioner is much like us. If it has been running for years without maintenance, parts will likely be wearing. Wiring and connections can become loose. Hard-working moving components with insufficient lubrication can age the system. And what if the air filter – the lungs of the system – hasn’t been changed in nine months?
Like the batter looking at a heater down the middle or the runner taking the first step toward five kilometers, an unprepared air conditioner called to compete with summer heat will strike or gas out.
We’re speaking speculatively here, of course. You can ensure your AC in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville or Lisle (IL) has healthy parts and a favorable physical. Let’s review how your can help your AC be ready to perform for a full season of comfort and efficiency, as well as dollars saved. This includes simple steps to do on your own!
High-Performance Air Conditioning: Replace the Filter
It’s an obvious factor that can’t be repeated enough: Check and replace the air filter during the summer. If the season is particularly warm, check it even more often than you normally would, such as every few weeks.
Filter maintenance is the easiest way to help make sure your AC can perform at its highest level. A dirty filter will drastically reduce the efficiency of the entire cooling system. It will also strain the system by putting pressure on the compressor – and replacing that component is costly. A clogged filter further compromises the quality of indoor air.
If you have a good memory, make mental note to check the filter regularly. Otherwise, you might consider marking your calendar or setting up reminders or prompts on your phone.
High-Performance Air Conditioning: Clear the Area
Your outdoor unit can’t do its job if it is surrounded and covered by debris and obstructions. Like a dirty air filter, too much build-up on and around the outdoor unit can hamper proper airflow and reduce the system’s efficiency.
Clear away any debris near the outdoor unit out to a few feet. Also make sure any nearby shrubs, hedges and other vegetation are trimmed well enough to not hang over or press against the air conditioner. If you lay mulch, be mindful of how much is near the base of the unit. Verify that nothing touches the back of the unit as well, as this can cause the compressor to overheat.
If you’re particularly inspired, you can also clean the outdoor coil. Vegetation and lawn debris that blows into or against the coil can limit the system’s heat transfer, making it run at a lesser capacity. If you don’t know how to clean the coil, just give us a call here at Beery Heating and Cooling and we’ll inform you!
High-Performance Air Conditioning: Clean Supply Vents & Return Grills
Next you’ll want to focus on system components inside the house. Sweep your home to ensure that all vents and grills are clean as well as free of any blockage, such as boxes, shoes and clothing.
The return-air grills are also important to an efficient cooling system, and sometimes it can be easy to forget about them. Check them for excess dust build-up and clean and vacuum them as might be needed.
High-Performance Air Conditioning: Check the Coolant Lines
Your AC’s evaporator coil pushes cooled air into your house by transforming the system’s refrigerant liquid into a gas, a process that removes warm air from the home.
The refrigerant pipes or tubes that run from the evaporator coil to the compressor outside are often covered with foam coolant-line insulation to help them retain energy. Damage to the insulation can have different causes, such as sun rot, animals seeking food or shelter, or freezing water trapped in the foam.
The insulation foam must be intact to maintain the system’s cooling function. If you see areas in the line insulation that are missing, worn or frayed, replace them. To do this, install foam insulation sleeves or wrap the lines in a spiral pattern with foam insulation tape. If you would like help with this, Beery can assist you. (Also note that this applies only to the larger suction line – not the small copper line, which shouldn’t be insulated.)
High-Performance Air Conditioning: Remove the Coil Cover
Some homeowners in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville and Lisle cover the condenser coil to protect it during the winter. If you are one of them, be sure to remove the cover before freeing your air conditioner to serve in the summer.
While these covers protect and insulate the coil, they limit heat transfer. Without proper heat transfer, the system can be damaged significantly.
High-Performance Air Conditioning: Note Where the Thermostat Is
Most of us understand what a thermostat does. We also know that it is typically mounted on the wall. What some might not be aware of is that the thermostat’s placement can impact how well the cooling system functions.
For example, if its location on the wall is near a heat source or in a direct line of sunlight from a window, the thermostat can misinterpret its temperature readings and make the AC run longer than it needs to.
Keep the thermostat’s placement in mind as you’re making sure your AC is ready to go. You might also consider installing a smart thermostat that can precisely control your home’s temperatures during different times of the day. For instance, the smart thermostat can command what the settings should be while you’re at work and when you’re sleeping.
High-Performance Air Conditioning: Schedule Your AC Tune-Up
Now that we’ve covered what you can do to help your AC get into seasonal shape, all that’s left to ensure top performance is to have it tuned up top to bottom by a trained and certified professional.
An AC tune-up with Beery includes important steps such as:
- ensuring proper function with the thermostat
- cleaning the condenser coils
- lubricating all moving parts
- checking for leaks of gas or carbon monoxide
- inspecting and tightening electrical connections
- cleaning the drain pan
- checking the blower motor and belt
- ensuring the correct amount of refrigerant
- inspecting ducts for any leaks or blockage
- straightening coil fins
In addition to making sure your AC is prepared for the season’s flaming fastballs, a Beery AC tune-up can spot and diagnose any possible issues with the system before they get bigger and more costly.
Here for Answers and Service
Just as athletes have coaches and trainers to help them reach their greatest potential, so do homeowners in Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield, Oswego, and Lisle (IL) have a resource for getting the most from their AC. Whenever you have a question about system efficiency or are ready to schedule a tune-up, simply give us a call at (630) 585-6444!