Rising spring temperatures bring the beginning of the cooling season to your home. We rely on our air conditioning units to help keep us cool in the hot summer months. It’s a great idea to take a quick look at your air conditioner and do a checkup before your unit kicks into overdrive. Here’s a guide to an easy at-home Air Conditioner Checkup:

The Exterior of the AC Unit

Check if Level

Make sure the unit is sitting level and has not settled. When there is too much of a slope, your air conditioner may not operate properly. This tends to be a greater concern for units that are located on the ground vs. ones that are on brackets above the ground.

Check Airflow

Check to see if there is adequate airflow around the AC unit. Your air conditioner needs to breathe to operate efficiently. In order to achieve this, there should be at least 1 foot of space on all sides and 5 feet of clearance above the unit. Trim back any plants or vegetation in the way and keep an eye on this as summer progresses and plants, bushes, and trees grow.

vegetation around an Air conditioner

Check if Clean

The exterior fins need routine cleaning to remove dirt, leaves, and dust/pollen buildup. This can be done using a garden hose with a sprayer attachment. However, never use a pressure washer as this can damage the delicate fins of the AC unit.

dirty Air conditioner fins

Check Electrical

Check the electrical connections for any separated conduit. While doing inspections, we frequently find conduit which has become detached leaving the wires exposed. Any exposed wiring needs to be properly protected from the elements and from damage. It’s also a good idea to look inside the metal shut-off box on the house for potential wasps nests. But please be careful when doing so.

Check Insulation

Frequently the insulation on the copper lines coming from the house deteriorates and needs to be replaced. Check the insulation to ensure it is intact and not damaged. This insulation increases the efficiency of your air conditioner. Replacement insulation can be bought at your local hardware store in the heating and cooling section. When purchasing, be sure to buy the kind designed for exterior use and not the insulation meant for interior water pipes. Some zip ties can help keep this insulation in place.

Air conditioner insulation of lines

Check for Noises

Finally, turn on your AC and listen while outside. If there are any strange noises or squealing, or it is not running, it’s time to call an HVAC service technician.

On the Inside of the AC Unit

Check for Leaks

Locate your furnace and also check for any leaks coming from the inside portion of your air conditioner. The ‘A Coil’ (named after its shape shape), sits above the blower and heating elements of the furnace. Find the two copper lines entering the housing and look for coolant leaks. Also, the area where these pipes enter the housing should also be sealed to prevent air loss. 

Schedule AC Service

Finally, it may be time to have your furnace and air conditioner serviced. If you see any issues during your checkup or it has been a while since it was last serviced, it’s probably a good idea to have a qualified HVAC contractor take a closer look to ensure your AC unit is in tip-top shape. Oftentimes they can identify and fix minor issues before they become major problems.