Hopefully you’ve made it this far into the Summer with little to no fuss from your air-conditioner. Temps have been manageable as far as June and July go but we’re not quite out of the woods yet. As we all know late July, August, and sometimes even September can be the dog days of Summer that really wear us down – especially when we’re so close to a cool Autumn breeze. Now is the perfect time to make sure your A/C is buckled down for the home stretch with these mid-summer maintenance tasks.
Change the A/C Filter
You can technically get by with changing the air-conditioner filters at the beginning of the Summer and they should be good for the whole season. If you live in a particularly dusty area (country back roads), are being irritated by allergens, or are noticing a lack of performance, changing the filter definitely doesn’t hurt.
Clean the A/C Fins
Your outdoor A/C unit has been exposed to 2-3 months of grass cutting and weed whipping and there’s a good chance the clippings (along with other debris) has found its way lodged into the fins thus impeding air flow. A quick squirt from the garden hose can free up a lot of this blockage. If you forgot about this step as part of your preseason maintenance, a special foaming fin cleaner can be used to remove grease and oil as well.
Clean the Interior of the Condenser/Compressor
When you spray the fins down with water, most of that debris will work its way inside the unit and may have the tendency to build up on the internal condenser and compressor components. Turn off the power to the unit (which you should do for all maintenance), remove the fan cage and suck out the debris with a wet-dry vac.
Fix any Crooked Fins
If your home serves as the neighborhood ball field during the Summer, chances are a foul ball or two has found its way towards the fins of your A/C unit. Bent fins can happen with reckless lawn tractor driving or even in heavy wind and rainstorms. These crooked fins block air flow and reduce efficiency but can be straightened in seconds with a butter knife or flat head screwdriver.
Tidy Up the Indoor Evaporator Components
While the majority of Summer debris will build up on the outdoor compressor unit, while you’re doing midterm maintenance it never hurts to give the evaporator components a quick work over. There is an evaporator coil door on the inside of the blower unit. Once again with the power off, wipe the debris off these coils with a soft brush and then gently spray the area with a safe evaporator cleaner. The cleaner works as a sealant to deflect debris but also has the added bonus of eliminating that wet, musty smell from all the moisture created thus far during the year.
Speaking of moisture, it has to drain somewhere which is why a free-flowing evaporator drain is so important. Algae and mold can build up in the drain line (especially if this preseason maintenance tip was glossed over as well) forcing water to back up onto the floor. You can clear the drain line by pushing (hot water and diluted bleach) or pulling (wet-dry vac).
Once again on the surface these all seem like pretty capable DIY jobs. If you’re at all uncomfortable with any component of your air-conditioner however it’s always best to bring in the pros. The money you spend for a service call can easily be recouped with lower utility bills the rest of the Summer and a fully-functioning A/C that will be primed and ready for next season before you know it.