You are looking forward to summer and all the fun activities that come with it. But we all know how the Lowcountry can turn unpleasant on extremely hot days. Fortunately, you can take advantage of central air conditioning in your home to stay comfortable inside during the warmer months. But before you turn it on after its winter hiatus, you should prep your air conditioner as follows.

Clean the Surroundings

Its common to leave the landscaping around your foundation alone during the colder months but this is often where your air-conditioning’s outside unit is located. For months, it’s been collecting dirt and debris while branches and foliage have been gathering around its base. To prep your air conditioner, you need to clear all of this away to prevent any damage to your unit. Its easy enough to pick off any loose material and sweep off any caked-on mud. You’ll also want to clear the ground around the unit within one to two feet. You can buy a commercial air-conditioner cleaner from home-center stores to eliminate stubborn muck.

Cleaning the fins on the outside unit requires a different strategy. You’ll need a brush with bristles such as an old toothbrush or a car cleaning brush. Gently rub the bristles across each fin but be careful not to bend the fin metal. If you happen to damage them, you can get fin-repair tools from your home center.

Change the Filter

Changing the filter is the easiest thing you can do to ensure that your AC functions properly. You should change it at least once before the cooling season although your operations manual will state the best frequency. Your manual will also tell you whether you have a filter that is disposable or a permanent one that needs to be washed. For central AC units, the filter is usually located in the back of a metal panel that is in front of the blower. You may need to unscrew the panel to remove the filter and install a new one.

Clear a Path

You may have temporarily put everything from furniture to holiday decorations in front of the AC vents because you weren’t using them. It’s time to remove these obstructions to allow air to blow freely into the room. If you want to cool down every part of your space, make sure that there’s a clear path from the vent to the furthest corner of the room.

Have the Ducts Cleaned

Keeping your ductwork clean is a job for a professional and is necessary unless you want dust, insect parts, and other dirt blowing into your home, which affects air quality and aggravates allergies. Professionals can also check for leaks, which waste energy by causing your AC unit to work harder. Such leaks are easily fixed with special HVAC Foil Tape.

Add a Programmable Thermostat

If you’re manually turning your unit off and on, you may be wasting energy and not cooling your home effectively. Install a programmable thermostat that works with both your AC and furnace to automatically create a comfortable climate. It can also reduce HVAC use automatically when you don’t need it, such as when the house is empty. Installation is something you can do using a few simple tools.

Perform a Test Run to Prep Your Air Conditioner for Summer

Before you actually use your AC to cool your home, let it run for a few minutes to ensure that it is working properly. If you hear knocking or other strange noises or notice any unusual smells that don’t dissipate, turn your unit off and contact an HVAC professional. Spring is a perfect time to do this before the hotter months of summer, because professionals may not come to your home for several days or weeks due to being busy. They’ll inspect your unit and let you know what repairs, if any, are required to prep your air conditioner for summer.

Step by Step Inspections serves the Greater Charleston area with professional home inspection services. Contact us if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our certified inspectors.