Five Ways To Prepare Your Central Air Conditioner For Spring

It might still be the middle of winter, but sooner or later you'll need your central air conditioner to keep your home cool and comfortable. Instead of waiting for the warmest times of the year to get your central A/C system ready, you can get a jump on your preparation efforts by starting right now. Here are a few tips that can help get you started.

Clean Your Outdoor and Indoor Cabinets

Start by picking up fallen leaves, branches, and other debris from around the outdoor cabinet. Leaving trash and vegetation around the cabinet can prevent air from flowing through the condenser coil. Afterwards, remove accumulated dirt and debris from the condenser coil itself by rinsing it off with your garden hose. If you're using a cover for your outdoor cabinet, you'll want to remove it just before you need to actually use your air conditioning.

It's also a good idea to vacuum any debris you find around your indoor cabinet. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior surfaces of the cabinet to remove accumulated dust and debris.

Replace the Air Filter

Although it's one of the simplest steps you can take to prepare your central A/C system, it's also one of the most overlooked. A clogged air filter can starve your A/C system of the airflow it needs to operate properly. Be sure to replace your air filter with one that offers the same or better performance than your current filter. Pay close attention to the recommended MERV rating your A/C system calls for, as this can affect indoor air quality and cooling performance.

For the best possible cooling performance, you replace your air filter at least once every six months. If you're looking to improve your home's indoor air quality, however, you can step up your replacement schedule to a monthly basis.

Check and Clean the Evaporator Coil

Over time, dust and debris traveling in the airstream can become trapped in the evaporator coil as air passes through the component. Under certain conditions, mold, mildew, and algae can also grow on the coil, causing severe blockages and reduced cooling performance. You can tackle these issues using a soft bristle brush, warm water, and mild dishwashing detergent. Gently scrub and rinse the evaporator coil until you've managed to remove all of the debris.

You should also check the condensate drip tray located below the evaporator coil. Look for signs of damage, including cracks or spots where corrosion has taken hold. Also make sure the drainage lines are properly attached, located in their proper places and completely free of clogs.

Have Your Technician Check for Refrigerant Leaks

A slow refrigerant leak can rob your central A/C system of its cooling capacity as it lies dormant throughout the winter. Unfortunately, these leaks can prove hard to detect on your own. Instead, you should have your HVAC technician perform a thorough inspection of your A/C system's refrigerant lines and double check the unit's current refrigerant levels.

By scheduling an appointment now rather than waiting for spring, you'll be able to avoid the springtime rush and the subsequent difficulty of requesting a technician during those high-demand periods.

Give It a Test Run

Just because it's still cold outside doesn't mean you can't take your central A/C unit on a brief test run. You'll only need to run your unit for a few minutes to see if it still produces a steady stream of cool, conditioned air. As it runs, you'll also want to check for any strange noises or vibrations that could indicate a problem with your A/C system. If you do happen to run into some issues, you can always have your HVAC technician take a closer look.