The pollen has arrived which means Spring is here!
Here are some helpful tips to ensure your Air Conditioner is ready for the Summer Heat.
Are your home’s air filters clean? Dirty air filters can significantly affect your air conditioner’s performance and efficiency. Most homes have either a “media filter” located in the attic or one-inch filters located inside the home. Media filters should be changed every six months (or Spring and Fall) and one-inch filters every month. For media filters, we recommend using a MERV rating between 8-12. For one inch filters, we recommend using the non-pleated filters to maintain proper airflow. The one inch pleated and allergen filters that are frequently advertised are typically too restrictive for most systems and can cause poor airflow. If your system has a media filter, you do not want to use the one-inch filters inside the home as this will also be too restrictive.
Also, check to ensure that there is no furniture or anything else in front of or blocking the return air grills inside the house. This can also result in poor airflow and affect the air conditioner’s performance.
Okay, what the heck is a condenser? Your condenser is the outside component of your air conditioner. Inside the condenser, you will find the compressor and it will also have a fan on top of the unit. Here’s what you can do to make sure it’s running at peak performance:
- Clear or trim any overgrown brush surrounding the unit. This is where the air conditioner transfers heat to keep your house nice and cool. We recommend having at least one-foot clearance on all side of the unit with a clear pathway for servicing the unit.
- Clean the condenser coil. This is normally done during a Spring Tune Up, but if you are a Do It Yourself kind of person, you can clean the condenser coil yourself. To do this, simply take a garden hose and spray the outdoor coil side to side to remove any debris and dirt that may have accumulated. Please do not use a pressure washer as this may damage the coil.
- Finally, to get a sense of how well your air conditioner is working, hold your hand above the fan when the unit has been running for several minutes. The air coming out of the top of the condenser should be warm and not cool. If the air is on the cooler side, this may indicate the unit is not operating at peak performance or efficiency. You might also look for any ice or frost build up on the copper lines that go into the unit. It’s normal to see condensation but not ice or frost. If either of these is present, this also may indicate a problem with your air conditioner.
Did you know some thermostats have a battery? A weak or dead battery can cause your air conditioner not to operate. Some thermostats have a lid that lifts up to reveal the battery, some you need to snap off the wall to expose the battery, while others have no battery at all. If yours does have a battery, we recommend changing it every Spring with a new alkaline battery. Usually, they are size AA, but some are AAA.
Also, if you have media filters, did you know that you can set your FAN from auto to ON? This is an excellent way to circulate the air and keep those filters working even when the system is not actively heating or cooling. With the pollen in the air, turn that fan from auto to ON.
Measure the Temperature Split
This is a quick, simple test to see how well your air conditioner is performing. Use a thermometer and measure the air temperature coming out of the supply grill in the ceiling. Then, measure the air temperature on the intake return air grill. This temperature difference between the supply and the return should have a differential of around a 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is not around 20 degree, then your system may not be operating at peak performance or efficiency.
Your electric bill can also give you a clue as to how well your air conditioner is working. Have you noticed an increase in energy usage over the last several months? Is your bill higher than normal? If it is, this could indicate that the air conditioner is not running at peak performance or efficiency. Perhaps you’ve noticed the air conditioner running longer and never seems to shut off? A poorly maintained air conditioner will run longer resulting in higher utility bills.
Did you know that your air conditioner has a drain line and that they can become clogged? A clogged drain line can cause extensive water damage and an overall mess. Here’s a quick way to see if your drain is clogged, go outside and walk around your house. Look up near the roof eave for a small white pipe coming out of the eave. Is there water dripping from this pipe? Is there staining along the siding below the pipe? If there is, this would indicate that the air conditioner’s primary drain line may be clogged and the unit requires servicing. The pipe you are looking at is the air conditioner’s emergency drain line. You should never see water dripping from this pipe.
We also highly recommend installing “Ceiling Savers” or drain line cut-off switches. These greatly reduce the likely of water damage resulting in a clogged drain. These are very cost effective devices that will protect your home from unforeseen water damage.
We highly recommend having your HVAC system serviced twice per year. This would include a Spring Tune Up for the air conditioner and a Fall Tune Up for the heating system. By performing these routine maintenance checks, it will greatly reduce the likelihood of a malfunction during the Summer heat and ensure the systems are operating at peak performance and efficiency. Give us a call today, and we’ll be happy to get your air conditioner ready for Spring! Keeping it cool in The Woodlands!