Spring Cleaning and Your AC
When spring comes around, are you ready to scrub and polish from top-to-bottom for a sparkly home? If you focus on appliances, furnishings and carpeting, you’ll be done in no time. While we have compiled a list of top priorities, we have also provided some tips to keep your AC clean and well-maintained to ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible, for as long as possible. Summer will be here soon, and an AC that runs at optimum performance will help you to save energy and keep your home cleaner. Your AC should be checked regularly. Over time, the coolant may run low or the filter may clog up with dirt and other debris. Check out these tips and tricks for spring cleaning your AC:
1. Checking Your AC
Shut off the power. Turn off the power at the appliance shutoff box. Typically, you will find this close
to the outdoor unit. Shutoffs may have pull-down handles, pull-out handles, or a fuse to remove. If you can’t find it, shut off the power with the circuit breaker that controls the outdoor unit.
Check the pipes. Turn the power on again and turn on your AC. Go back outside to listen to the outdoor
unit. Listen for odd sounds that may indicate wear or damage. Wait about 10 minutes. Then check the insulated pipe by pulling back the insulation slightly. The temperature should be cool. The other pipe will feel warmer.
Replace the dirty filter. Double check the furnace filter for dust and debris. If needed, change it out
with a new, clean filter. This will prevent any dust or allergens in your system from being blown around your home.
2. Maintaining Your A/C
The coils, filters, and fins of your A/C need regular maintenance. This ensures efficient A/C operation and prolongs its lifespan. If you neglect this key task, you may end up replacing your A/C way too soon.
Air Conditioner Filters
Your top priority is your AC filter. Dirty, clogged filters block the airflow and decrease the unit’s efficiency. When the airflow is blocked by dirty filters, the system can carry debris and dust into the evaporator coil. This will then inhibit the heat-absorbing capacity of the coil. Keeping your filter clean can improve energy usage by up to 15%. If you have a central air conditioner, you will find the filters along the length of the return duct. The typical filter locations are in ceilings, furnaces, walls, or the A/C unit itself. A room AC will have the filter mounted right on the grill. Some filters are reusable – others are not. They come in an array of types and efficiencies. Check the filters frequently during the summer months especially if you use your A/C daily.
Air Conditioner Coils
Your AC’s coil can collect dirt and debris over its service life. Keeping the filter clean often prevents this from happening to the evaporator coil. Still, it can happen. The result is decreased airflow, and the dirt can actually hamper the coil’s ability to absorb heat. To prevent this from happening, check the evaporator coil annually and clean it if needed. Your outdoor AC unit needs attention as well. The outdoor condenser coils may collect dust and dirt or debris from nearby plants. You should be able to see the condenser coil without much trouble. You should keep debris and plants away from your condenser unit. This includes falling leaves, dryer vents, or lawn mower clippings. Trimming plants by at least two feet, keeping the area around the coil clean and removing debris frequently provides better airflow for the condenser.
Your AC has aluminum fins that can bend out of shape. This will block airflow through the system. You can buy a “fin comb” from a hardware store to put these fins back into shape.
The drain channels can become blocked. Use a stiff wire carefully to push out any blockage. A clear drain helps reduce humidity. Excess moisture can discolor your carpets or walls.
3. Preparing Your AC for Winter
Once the need for A/C in the summer is over, cover the outdoor unit to protect it from debris and winter weather. If you have a room AC, you can cover it or store it away until next summer. Check the thermostat by turning down the temperature to activate the AC. If your AC doesn’t turn on within a few moments, it may be time to call a repair technician. Ideally, you should do this in late winter. AC technicians become very busy and difficult to book at the beginning of summer. You want your air conditioner to work before the hot summer months begin. Replace your AC filter as well. This should be one of the first things you do. Most filters should be changed once per month for the best performance. This filter blocks the dirt and debris from entering the A/C mechanism, so it is a top priority to stay on schedule. If you have allergies or pets, you may consider changing it more frequently. Thoroughly clean the unit because an outdoor unit is particularly susceptible to the elements. Carefully inspect the unit and clean it gently with a cloth and brush. Clear any blockage to the grills and unit. After you power down the unit, use a hose to clean the coils. You may also want to use a commercial AC cleaner. Use a vacuum brush on the coils of a window AC. For an outdoor unit, use a soft brush to clean the fins as these dissipate hot air from the system as quickly as necessary. An AC uses a lot of energy. While you are doing your spring cleaning, think about making some changes to improve its efficiency. A programmable digital thermostat can save you about $100 over an old mercury switch thermostat while also improving your AC’s operation. You could also consider installing ceiling fans, which are fairly inexpensive to operate. They circulate air throughout your home and reduce your dependency on the air conditioner. You benefit from a longer, useful life of your AC. Finally, keep the condensation lines clog-free. Your central AC unit has evaporator coils, which leave behind moisture. This needs to be removed from the AC unit. A condensation pipe moves the water into a drain with a motor pump or by gravity. Keep this pipe clean. If water backs up into your system, it can cause extensive damage including damage to your home.
What Other Tips Do We Have?
Now that your AC is clean and running in top shape, let’s look at some other handy tips to quickly move through your spring cleaning.
4. Make Your Welcome Mats More Welcoming
You can wash them, shake them, and whack them with your broom. Give them a very thorough cleaning. Your welcome mat is the first line of defense against dirt coming into your home. You may even want to do this at the beginning of every season.
5. Clean Upholstery and Carpets
Your household fabrics have likely collected a lot of body oil, dirt, and germs throughout the fall and winter months. Spring is the perfect time to get them ready for another year. Plus, you want them clean for your guests. If you’re shampooing upholstery or carpets with a rental carpet cleaner, try it first on an out-of-the-way area to practice. You want to ensure that you are comfortable with the machine and prevent any discoloration or running dyes.
6. Finish your floor to protect against another year of wear.
Now is the time to deep clean and protect any flooring with a sealer or wax. Some floors do very well with a combination wash-and-wax cleaner for an even simpler spring cleaning.
7. Declutter to Make your Home Organized and You More Efficient
An organized home increases your sense of well-being, and it provides fewer nooks and crannies for dust to linger.
8. Work from Top to Bottom
This makes sense in that as you clean, dirt may be displaced and fall to the floor. Your floor and carpet should be the last areas you tackle.
9. Clean Walls and Windows First
This is related to #8. You want to start at the top and work your way down. In addition, your walls have collected dust from the heater over the winter months, and you want your windows clean to enjoy the beauty of the spring and summer months.
10. Go Green for Spring Cleaning
You don’t need to expose yourself to toxins and chemicals to do a thorough spring cleaning. You can use a steam cleaner that uses only hot water vapor. You can also consider baking soda or vinegar. Whichever steps you take, you will be prepared for a fun summer with a clean home and an AC that operates at peak performance. Now relax and enjoy!
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