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How to Prepare Your Central Air Conditioner for Summer [Checklist]

Posted 04-14-15 in Air Conditioning

Imagine your home’s air conditioner broke down in the middle of summer.

No good, right? Especially in Atlanta's humidity-filled heat.

But just like you can prepare a car for a long road trip, you can prepare your air conditioner for constant use in summer.

Here are 4 things you should add to your to-do list:

  1. Check and change the air filter
  2. Open supply vents
  3. Clean the outside air conditioner unit
  4. Get professional maintenance

Let’s explain why each of these is important.

1) Check and change the air filter

A dirty air filter blocks and airflow over the evaporator coil (the part that cools your air), causing it to ice up. This can cause your AC to shut down.

Change the filter if it’s dirty. You should find it in a return vent (the place where air gets sucked in).

2) Open supply vents

So, you know those metal vents where the air comes out? Never close those—not even in rooms you don’t use.

Here’s why: Your air conditioner’s blower (the part that delivers air throughout the home) is designed to push air up to a maximum pressure. Closing a vent increases pressure in your duct system.

Increased pressure causes the blower to run at a lower speed.

This causes 2 problems:

  • Evaporator coil may freeze, causing the same problems as a dirty air filter
  • You have less air coming out the other supply vents, leaving you uncomfortable.

Keep those vents open!

3) Clean the outside air conditioner unit

If the outside unit is dirty, then your AC can’t work properly. At best your AC will take longer to cool your home. At worst, you’ll feel lukewarm air coming out the vents.

Why does this happen?  

Well, it helps to know how an AC works.

Here’s the short version: Your air conditioner kind of works like a heat sponge. The inside unit uses refrigerant to absorb heat and then transfers that refrigerant to the outside unit to  ‘squeeze out’ that heat, allowing the refrigerant to cool down.

But if the outside unit is covered in dirt, dust and grass clippings, it struggles to release that heat from the refrigerant, causing your AC has to work longer and harder to heat your home.

Do this: Clean the outside AC unit with a water spray on a gentle setting.

4) Get professional maintenance

You know how your car needs an oil change  every 3000 to 6000 miles? Your air conditioner also need routine maintenance to work properly.

According to ENERGY STAR, you should, “ Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-up.”

By “pre-season” they mean spring for your air conditioner and fall for your furnace.

Do thisSchedule a maintenance visit with a professional AC contractor.


Coolray is your Atlanta-area home comfort expert with specialists in heating, air conditioning, air quality and plumbing. Have more questions? We’d be happy to help – just contact us online.

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