Air Conditioning Advice from FrigAir

It is generally a good idea to consider doing some basic maintenance on your air conditioning and heating system at the beginning of every heating and cooling season. With a few checks and a little effort, you can help to insure a trouble-free summer cooling season.

Spring Startup Checklist: Here are eight important things to check BEFORE switching the wall thermostat to cooling.

First, start with the outdoor unit:

1. Inspect the outdoor unit panels: These panels are designed to enclose the electrical connections and must be in place to help protect both you and the system. If you are missing a panel (possibly due to wind) or if the panel is misaligned, this could cause potential risks for both you and the operation of the equipment. If the panel covering the electrical connections is missing or out of place you should call a qualified technician for an assessment before starting your system.

2. Remove any condenser covers, coil blankets or lids: If you covered the outdoor coil in order to protect it during the winter months, be sure to remove the cover before starting the system. These covers protect and insulate the coil, but also limit any heat transfer. Starting the system with any of these covers in place, even for a short time, could severely damage your system.  Many people forget to remove their covers every year, often resulting in major repairs or even replacement of the whole system.

3. Repair or replace any damaged pipe insulation: The suction line (the larger copper pipe on the outdoor unit) helps to supply cool refrigerant back to the compressor in the outdoor unit. If the system’s suction pipe has damaged insulation, this could cause a loss of required cooling for the outdoor unit which could damage your system and may also cause you to lose energy as well. Damage to the foam insulation can be caused by sun rot, freezing water trapped in the foam or winter animals looking for shelter or food. The insulation should be intact to maintain system cooling. If the insulation needs replacing, do so before starting the unit. NOTE: ONLY the larger line needs insulation. Do NOT insulate the smaller copper line.

4. Remove any debris from the outdoor coil: Depending on where you live or what side of the house your system is located on, you might find trash or vegetation blown into or against the coil. The system coils are designed to transfer heat, and any debris limits this effect. To get the best possible performance from your system, remove this debris from the coil and surrounding area. Also, while mulching in the spring, take care to not pack mulch around the base of the unit. This is especially true for heat pumps as there’s likely a space under the unit and this should always be kept open to allow good air flow to the outdoor unit.

Next, inspect the indoor unit:

5. Change the air filters: The change in seasons is usually a good time to replace your indoor air filters. It’s likely that your indoor air filter will have gathered a lot more debris and dust than normal, so be sure to change the filter before the cooling season.  Be sure to pay attention to the airflow directions arrow on both the system and the filter – they both need to be pointing in the same direction.

6. Check the coil drainage hose: This hose (usually plastic) can also be called the “condensate line”. Since the coil’s temperature is lower than the ambient air, water will condense on the coil and drip into the tray below. This condensate needs to flow to a drain or the tray will fill up and flood the unit or potentially spill water into your home. Check to make sure the line is in the proper place, attached, and will drain to the appropriate location.

7. Clean the supply vents and return grills:  Make sure the both the supply and return air grills and vents are open and free of debris.  It would also be good to use the vacuum to remove any pet hair or dust that might have accumulated during the previous season. In general, cleaning all grills at the beginning of every season is a good idea.

8. Turn it on and make sure it works:  After going through the check list, wait for a nice, hot day when you have some time to check the air coming out of the indoor vents for the first few minutes after starting it, and then every few hours throughout the day.  After the first few minutes, you should feel cool air coming out of the registers.  If no air is coming out, or if the air coming out does not feel cool, then something is wrong and you should immediately turn the system off at the thermostat.  You can go through the check list one more time and then try it again.  If the problem persists, turn the system off and call FRIGAIR who can diagnose the problem.  Leaving the system turned on when it’s not running properly can do a lot of damage.  It never hurts to ask a FRIGAIR Professional to help diagnose the problems if your system is not working properly.

While performing this general inspection is good, getting FRIGAIR to regularly maintain your system is even better. Especially if your system is old, it is always better to get our professional team to ensure that it is kept in it’s optimum running state. A FRIGAIR technician can help you do a more thorough spring technical inspection to avoid a system failure in the hottest months of the year. Summer is just around the corner and no one knows your house better than you. If air conditioning is a necessity due to your lifestyle or geographical location, then be sure to get FRIGAIR’s professional opinion before time runs out.

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