Air Conditioner Maintenance Checklist for Spring and Summer

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AC Technicians Discuss Problem

Unless you’re an air conditioning expert, inspecting your cooling system probably seems like a confusing chore. How do you know what to look for? How often should you clean your unit or analyze your wiring?

We’ve come up with a simple preventive air conditioner maintenance checklist to help you answer these questions and many more. AC maintenance is all about problem prevention, and we want to make more households understand that.

Whether you have an indoor or outdoor unit, you need to know what signs to watch for that indicate a malfunction. Using this checklist will help you catch problems early and avoid pricey repairs in the future.

Conduct Seasonal Air Conditioner Maintenance

This is our first – and arguably most important – recommendation when it comes to maintaining your air conditioner properly. Comprehensive seasonal maintenance is an excellent way to keep your HVAC system operational for many years to come.

We advise scheduling your regular air conditioner maintenance in the spring and fall. Because your heating and cooling system is used the most in winter and summer, these periods offer the perfect chance to prepare.

Even if we’re only talking about AC, not heating, you need to have your unit serviced in the fall. Dead leaves, twigs, and other debris love to accumulate in your unit during the autumn. Cleaning those out, even during cold weather, is a great way to take care of your system.

If you’re using this AC maintenance checklist to care for your system without the help of a professional HVAC technician, here are some DIY tasks for your six-month check-ins.

  • Clean your outdoor unit with water to remove dirt and pollen 
  • Trim back vegetation that may impede your unit
  • Check your AC belts for wear and tear 
  • Tighten any loose connections you see
  • Flush the condensate drain to avoid buildup 
  • Lubricate the blower motor and external fan

Of course, we highly recommend calling a professional service technician to ensure everything is running smoothly. They’ll take care of these issues and more, leaving you with peace of mind going into the next season.

It’s especially important to hire a professional if you notice leaks, cracks, or other serious issues that you don’t know how to handle on your own. Addressing those problems head-on will save you a great deal of pain and money in the long run.

Inspect Your Cooling System Monthly

Next on our AC maintenance checklist is the recommended monthly inspection.

Although you don’t need to do as much during a monthly inspection as you do during a seasonal tune-up, it’s smart to take a close look at your unit(s) every thirty days or so. That way, you’ll spot trouble before it causes real issues for your home.

air conditioning units

What should you do during these monthly checkups? We recommend:

  • Running the fan to remove dust and debris, especially if you haven’t been using your system much in recent weeks.
  • Cleaning the intake ducts throughout your house. These ducts can suck in dust and debris, eventually leading to clogged air filters and poor circulation. The more often you check them for blocks, the easier your family will breathe (literally).
  • Check your air filters for obvious dirt or blockages.

Your air conditioning system should keep your home cool and your air clean. Checking your ducts at least once a month ensures that your home has clean air. Plus, you’ll spot serious problems before they require you to replace or repair your air conditioner.

Remove Debris From Outdoor Condensers

Moving on with our maintenance checklist – you need to clear outdoor debris more than just twice a year.

We addressed this problem in your seasonal and monthly inspections, but chances are, your outdoor units need more frequent attention. This is especially true if you live in a windy area with lots of foliage and potential debris.

What you’ll need to clean your outdoor unit properly:

  • An air conditioner coil cleaner recommended by your manufacturer
  • A vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment
  • A water hose
  • Eye protection and gloves

Step 1: Turn off the Electricity

Before starting the process, find the electrical box near your outside unit and turn off the AC’s power. You should also make sure that the thermostat is switched to “off.”

Step 2: Remove Obvious Clutter

Pull-on some gloves and protective glasses. Look for big pieces of debris – tree branches, leaves, trash. Carefully remove and discard this clutter.

Step 3: Vacuum

Using the soft brush attachment, vacuum the unit’s condenser fins. Be careful during this process – bending the fins causes problems.

Step 4: Spray With Water

Take your hose and spray off loose debris that you haven’t already gathered. This often includes grass, dirt, gravel, etc.

Step 5: Clean the Coils

Once you’ve finished spraying, apply the cleaner and give the unit 10 to 15 minutes to foam. It will stick to the dirt on our coils, and when you rinse it off, it will remove most of the filth. Conducting this process as often as necessary ensures that your AC stays efficient. Not only will the system cool faster and more thoroughly, but you’ll also avoid ridiculously high utility bills.

Clean and Replace Your Air Filters

Removing Dirty Air filter for home central air conditioning system

According to health studies at Harvard University, one of the best things you can do to improve indoor allergens and alleviate respiratory problems is simply cleaning and replacing your filters.

We touched briefly on this in an earlier stage of our checklist, but it’s not just something you should inspect seasonally – especially if your family suffers from breathing problems.

Air filters dramatically impact the quality of air that flows through your house. When they’re covered in filth, your air circulation is poor, as is its quality.

Not only do dirty air filters contribute to respiratory issues, but they also prevent your home from cooling quickly. In the summer, dirt-clogged filters increase your system’s run time and force it to use more fuel to keep your home comfortable.

We recommend cleaning or replacing your air filters at least twice a year, but if your family suffers from allergies or have pets, you might need to do this every couple of months.

Pay Attention to Your Air Conditioner’s Circulation

Speaking of air circulation, how often do you pay attention to where the air is flowing and where it’s not?

The next step on our checklist is making room for proper air circulation. Move furniture to prevent ent obstruction. If necessary, change your room set up to allow for better circulation – and, therefore, less expensive utility bills.

Have you ever noticed that one room gets great airflow while another one stays hot and uncomfortable?

Don’t just ignore it – there should be a constant flow of air in every room. If there’s not, you might need to have a professional look for air duct leaks.

Take a Look at Your AC Unit’s Wiring

Before tackling any part of this step, turn off the AC and furnace breakers. Power should be completely shut off when you’re handling anything to do with wiring.

Once that’s done, take a look at your relays and contractors. If these wires are worn or loose, your unit could experience motor or compressor failure in the near future. Similarly, loose connections can cause you to lose control over your system.

You don’t need to worry about this step all too often – only when you suspect something is wrong or you’re conducting a semi-annual inspection.

Evaluate Your Thermostat’s Effectiveness

woman push button digital thermostat at house

Last but not least, on your checklist: determine if your thermostat is functioning as it should.

Sometimes, the problems you experience with your AC system are actually related to issues with your thermostat. Whether it’s a fancy smart thermostat or a simple programmable one, you need to troubleshoot it occasionally.

Quick fixes to problems with your thermostat:

  • Change the batteries
  • Check the settings for effective cooling
  • Inspect for potential wiring issues

If your thermostat is silent, even when you turn the system on and off, there could be a serious connection problem. Contact an HVAC professional to find out how you can better connect your thermostat to your air conditioner.

Leaving thermostat problems unresolved will force your system to work harder when cooling the house, therefore resulting in higher electricity bills for you. Don’t put them off – pay close attention to your thermostat’s accuracy and functionality.

Conclusion

There you have it: a basic but comprehensive maintenance air conditioner checklist. HVAC maintenance is all about acting preventatively, not reactively. The more you adhere to this maintenance checklist, the longer your AC system will run as it should.

At Bogner Sheet Metal, we do everything we can to help people keep their air conditioners running smoothly. For more than 70 years, we’ve helped inspect, service, and repair systems throughout Santa Cruz County. We handle furnaces, filters, thermostats, fans, ducts, and more.

Whether you’re scheduling seasonal maintenance or you’re installing a whole new system, we’re here to help. Contact one of our technicians online to learn what we can do for your home today. You can also call 831-423-4322.

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Avatar for Cindy Martin

Cindy Martin