Ah, summer in the South. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. For beach goers and golf players and anyone who loves warm weather activities, there’s nothing better than a southern summer. For your HVAC system, though, it’s like the winter was a warm up lap in a Carolina 500 and the start of summer is like a checkered flag. Well, just as a race car needs to be maintained and triple checked before the race, so does your air conditioning. It’s called summerizing.
Summerizing involves several steps:
In order to avoid any nasty surprises, it’s essential that you shut off power to the unit both inside and outside. Inside, flip the circuit breaker at the service panel. Outside, look for a service box on the condenser. There you’ll find a breaker or switch. Kill the power in both of these places before you go any further.
Whether you replace them or wash them, depending on the type, it’s crucial that your system be able to breathe. Proper circulation not only helps the system work efficiently, it also lengthens the life of the unit. A system that is overtaxed will on average have a shorter lifespan. Replacing filters is a cheap, cheap way to save yourself a lot of money and trouble. Another good reason to keep your filters clean is to keep your air clean. Dirty filters just recirculate dirt, even if it’s at a reduced amount. This is a no-brainer for summerizing.
Just like with the filters, it’s also important that the outside unit can breathe. So you’ll need to remove any weeds or growth that inhibits airflow. Keeping the air flowing also means removing debris in the bottom of the housing unit. And while you’re there, make sure the drain plug is unclogged. Standing water is an enemy of your system.
Like the filters, the coils on the outside unit get covered in debris and reduce the efficiency and cooling ability of the system. Very carefully remove the lid and sides of the housing if possible; gently brush the debris from the outside of the grill; and vacuum the coils on the inside with a soft brush tip. Be careful not to bend the fins on the coils. Some people will use a water hose to clean these, which is less recommended due to the propensity to damage the fins. If you do use the hose, be sure to cover the electrical parts inside and check that the water drains out of the bottom. For stubborn debris, you may need a commercial grade coil cleaner.
The tubes that run from the house to the outside unit carry your coolant and they need to be protected. Foam insulation is the go-to. When summerizing, check the integrity of the foam to be sure there aren’t missing sections or significant damage. You can buy the foam insulating tubes or tape at many home improvement or hardware stores.
After you have turned your thermostat to OFF, turn on the power at the outdoor unit and inside at the breaker box. Then turn your thermostat to COOL. The air conditioning should kick on and start cooling. Let the system run for a while until you know it’s going to cool sufficiently. The good part about summerizing is that you’ll know if you have a problem before you desperately need it to work. If you should find that the system functions but doesn’t cool as well as it should, it likely needs to be recharged. This requires the right tools and often means you have a leak somewhere that will need to be remedied. So, leave that to Jake’s A/C Heating & Cooling.
Summerizing is a fun word that means getting your system ready for summer. If you encounter any hiccups along the way in readying your system, give us a call. We’re eager to help. Or if you want us to check things over, which is very common, give us a call then, too. Or, better yet, you can get one of our memberships and we’ll come up with a maintenance plan that goes beyond basic summerizing. At Jake’s, we want what you want: safe, consistent, effective, efficient heating and cooling. Let’s work together to accomplish this! Contact us here. Read our other blogs here.
If you have any questions about your HVAC system or need maintenance done, be sure to contact our professionals!