Summer is your air conditioner’s time to shine. With properly installed and maintained cooling equipment, you can keep the interior of your Wilmington, NC home at an even, comfortable temperature all season long. To help you get your air conditioner ready for the challenges that lie ahead, the following are seven pre-season maintenance tips.

1. Swap Out Your Air Conditioner’s Air Filter

The first step in getting your air conditioner ready for the cooling season is swapping out your HVAC air filter. Starting the season with a clean, fresh filter will minimize the likelihood of problems like short cycling and overheating. It will also make your AC more effective in extracting dust, hair, carpet fibers, and other airborne contaminants.

Consider an HVAC Air Filter Upgrade

When replacing your AC air filter, consider upgrading from a standard filter to one with a higher maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating. An upgraded filter will pick up more allergens and contaminants to limit stress on your cooling equipment and boost your indoor air quality (IAQ). However, to ensure the perfect balance between improved IAQ and optimum airflow when choosing a new filter type, you should have one of our technicians help you out.

Stock Up on Extra Filters to Get You Through the Summer Months

When picking up a new AC air filter for your summer maintenance, grab a few extra to have in stock. This way, you won’t have to worry about local store shelves running empty when the outside temperature soars.

As per HVAC manufacturers, homeowners should inspect their air filters every 30 days and replace them every 30 to 90 days. According to the recommended filter-change schedule, you’ll need between one and four air filters to see you through the summer season.

2. Test and Adjust Your HVAC Thermostat

As warmer weather arrives, you should adjust your thermostat accordingly. As per ENERGY STAR, the ideal summertime temperature setting is 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the daylight hours. According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE), raising this temperature setting by just one to two degrees when going to bed or leaving for work could shave up to 10% off your summertime cooling costs.

Consider Upgrading Your Thermostat

To optimize the savings from thermostat setting changes, consider installing a smart or programmable thermostat in place of a standard one. These devices can hold multiple, pre-set temperature settings. Using them eliminates the potential for human error and oversight.

Assess the Feasibility of Your Thermostat’s Location

Make sure that your thermostat is in a central, neutral location. These devices should never be too close to gaming computers, ovens, sunlit windows, or other fixed heat sources.

3. Clean up Around the Outdoor Condenser Unit

Make sure that your air conditioner’s condenser unit is still on flat, level ground. If standing water or runoff has led to compressed or shifting soils or caused other grading changes, your condenser’s concrete pad may need to be leveled or replaced.

Your air conditioner’s condenser must have at least 24 inches of clearance on every side. Pull up any weeds that have encroached upon this unit and cut back nearby grasses, bushes, shrubs, and trees. You should regularly revisit your condenser throughout the spring and summer seasons to clear its perimeter. You can do this once each month when performing regular filter inspections.

4. Check Your HVAC Air Ducts for Structural Damage

Check the exposed HVAC air ducts throughout your home for crushed sections, loose connections, and perforations. In high-traffic areas where ductwork is visible, these structures are vulnerable to damages caused by falling ladders, tools, and other heavy, fast-moving objects.

Schedule Annual Duct Maintenance and Duct Cleaning Services As Needed

All ducted HVAC systems require professional duct maintenance each year. This remains true even though HVAC technicians evaluate ductwork during annual furnace and AC tune-ups. If you haven’t had your air ducts professionally maintained in more than a year, take care of this now. According to the DOE, even when intact, HVAC air ducts can lose up to 40% of the cooling energy that air conditioners produce. Lack of insulation, poor sealing, and holes will make these losses even greater.

It’s also a good idea to have your HVAC air ducts cleaned from time to time. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends cleaning air ducts on an as-needed basis. However, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), it’s best to do this every two to three years. Having your air ducts cleaned before summer arrives will support the needs of seasonal and chronic allergy sufferers in your household. After all, allergy season in Wilmington runs from late February to early November, and summer sees a massive influx of Bermuda grass pollen, ragweed pollen, tree pollen, and more.

5. Clean All Air Registers, Vents, and Grilles

Wipe down all air registers and vents throughout your home to remove thick, lint-like buildups of dirt, hair, and pet fur. If necessary, you can also unscrew your HVAC air vent covers and vacuum behind them. You should be able to remove all visible, accumulated debris using your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment.

Make Sure That All of Your Air Vents Are Open

It’s also important to make sure that all of your HVAC air vents are in an open position. Closing air vents is never the best way to direct unwanted conditioned air away from any room. Vent closures increase static pressure within HVAC air ducts and cause airflow problems that can lead to short cycling, icing, or overheating.

If there are multiple closed vents throughout the building, you may need professional air balancing. During air balancing service, we strategically adjust HVAC air vent positions to optimize airflow and comfort. We can also tell you about the benefits of zoning your HVAC system to customize air delivery without causing operational stress.

6. Schedule Annual AC Tune-Up Service

The most important step in your pre-season AC maintenance plan is scheduling professional air conditioner tune-up service. If your air conditioner is still under its manufacturer’s warranty, this service is necessary for warranty compliance. It’s also the best way to optimize the efficiency of home cooling equipment, limit the risk of summertime cooling emergencies, and boost your IAQ.

During AC maintenance service, we:

  • Inspect, clean, and lubricate all moving parts
  • Clean indoor air handling units and outdoor condensers
  • Clean evaporator and condenser coils
  • Inspect blower motors and blower fans
  • Test all electrical connections

We also test and calibrate thermostats, replace worn bearings and other damaged components, and verify the integrity of HVAC air ducts.

7. Consider Your Options in Indoor Air Quality Improvements

If you suspect that cleaning and tuning your AC and upgrading your HVAC air filter won’t be enough to weather the IAQ challenges of summer, you can also explore your options in integrated HVAC accessories. Additions like media filters, air scrubbers, and air purifiers can greatly minimize concentrations of allergens and contaminants in your indoor air while additionally supporting efficient AC performance.

We’re proud to serve Wilmington, NC and the surrounding cities. You can count on us for expert heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services. We also provide top-notch duct service, ductless mini-splits, and smart thermostats. To find out about our HVAC preventative maintenance plans or schedule an appointment, get in touch with Green Dot Heating & Air now.

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