As we approach the first day of summer, images of fun in the sun, splashing in the pool, family trips to theme parks–all kinds of sunny summer activities come to mind. The one thing about summer, and the reason we are able to enjoy these exciting outdoor activities, is that it's hot. The sun stays out longer, and the temperature stays higher. What makes summer so delightful can also make it nearly unbearable at times. Such is the glory of the A/C system.
No one wants to be caught in the height of the summer with a broken or malfunctioning A/C. Most wouldn't wish such misery on their greatest enemy. So why risk suffering this fate yourself? There are five easy maintenance steps you can take to prep your A/C to survive the summer and maximize its functionality.
1. Schedule Regular Professional Maintenance
Contact Weis Comfort Systems to schedule routine maintenance visits at least once annually. Our experts will make sure your A/C unit is in top shape for the summer season.
Pro tip: schedule this maintenance call before summer starts. This way, you're set before you ever need to use it, and you may get a better rate and more flexible appointment times!
2. Change Filters Regularly
One easy way you can help your A/C perform at its best without having to call us out there is by making sure you change your filters as needed. Find the right filter for your unit and note the suggested schedule for replacing and/or cleaning it. If you are using a reusable filter, follow the instructions to clean it. You will need to replace a reusable filter every few years. For disposable filters, write the date on the filter and put it on your calendar as a reminder. Pretty soon, it will become a habit just like any other household chore.
3. Clear the Condenser Unit and Surrounding Area
Weeds, debris, and other yard waste can build up around your A/C condenser unit and begin to hurt its performance. The first step is to manually remove those large pieces and cut down anything that is growing too close. (For best results, "too close" constitutes anything planted within two feet of your condenser unit.) For a deeper clean, use household tools. You can take care of smaller pieces of debris with a shop vac, and then wash away the remaining dirt with a regular garden hose. Do NOT use a pressure washer. You may think you're going above and beyond, that you're going to have the shiniest condenser on the block, but that shiny condenser is no use to you if it's damaged. After cleaning, you should always inspect the condenser fins for damage. Slight dents or bends can be easily remedied with a fin comb, but something as powerful as a pressure washer can cause severe damage.
4. Seal and Insulate!
In middle school, we all learned that heat moves from areas of high heat to low heat, and air moves from areas of high pressure to low pressure. If there are cracks in your doorways or windows, not only is the cold air escaping by blowing out through the cracks, but the hot air could also be coming in through those same channels.
How do I find air leaks in my home?
If you suspect that you have an air leak but it is not readily apparent, conduct a quick and easy test to find if and where the leaks are. For this test, all you need is a small piece of toilet paper or a burning incense stick. Either one of these will serve as a visual cue; as you move around your house, when you approach an air leak, the paper or smoke from the incense will begin to wave around rapidly.
I found an air leak. What do I do about it?
Most leaks can be fixed easily. Around doors, weather stripping may be enough. For small cracks throughout the house, use a weatherproof caulk. For larger cracks (more than 1/4 inch), an expandable foam spray will work.
How can I tell if my house is properly insulated?
Go to your attic and take a tape measure or ruler with you. You will need to determine what type of insulation you have and measure its thickness. If you have fiberglass or rock wool insulation, 11 inches minimum is the benchmark–for cellulose insulation, 8 inches. It's relatively easy to add insulation if you're just a little shy of the guideline. If you live in an older home, you might also consider replacing the insulation for a material with a higher R-value. The higher the R-value, the better it insulates, and the less material it requires.
5. Check and Clean Vents and Ducts
Dust your vents and air duct covers regularly, and every once in a while, it's a good idea to do a thorough clean of your ducts. For that, you will need a regular vacuum cleaner or shop vac, a screwdriver to remove the air duct covers, and rags or paper towels. Close vents in the rooms you don't use often and open them in the rooms you are using so the A/C can more efficiently cool those rooms. To further boost efficiency, close the doors to those rooms you are cooling to keep that cool air within those spaces.
After you've taken these five easy maintenance steps, your A/C unit is officially ready for the summer. Bring on the blazing heat, because you'll be nice and comfortable in the refreshing cool air of your healthy A/C unit. If you run into a bigger problem along the way or decide it’s time to upgrade your home HVAC system, contact Weis Comfort Systems right away. For a consultation, quote, or to schedule a service call, please call (636) 202-0073 or directly contact the Weis location nearest you.