There are many jobs that you as a homeowner can do, and other tasks that should be tackled by a licensed air conditioning and heating service technician. The bottom line is that the more you can do, the lower the cost of the service call.
Interior A/C Maintenance Checklist
There is really no written-in-concrete order in which to tackle these tasks, but your thermostat is always a good place to get started. If your model is battery powered, its a good idea to change them out.
Trust me, you dont want to risk having them fail in the middle of a hot summer night, even if Walmart is open all night.
The process of cleaning and calibrating your thermostat is also a capital idea at this point. If its the case that your model is one of the older round styles, its probably worth your time to invest in a newer 7-day programmable thermostat.
The purpose of this is to enable your home to be in the comfort zone at you and your familys convenience, not 24 hours a day.
Next you can do a visual on your ductwork. If you have insulated metal ducts you will find that they are for the most part problem-free, but many contractor grade homes are built using flex ducts.
Flex is inexpensive and simple to install, which are the main reasons for their popularity. They are just an insulated foil tube with an interior metal wire coil to keep them round-shaped and expanded.
The downside? Nothing is free and this is no exception. The truth is that the plastic will degrade in the attic heat over time and will either collapse, which restricts air flow, or rip.
When rips happen, two issues come to mind. Logically, your conditioned air will escape. The second, and related issue, is that dust and bits of attic insulation get into your duct Then they are delivered into your house through your air grills.
While small rips may be patched up using metalized duct tape (never ever try using plastic duct tape in the attic; it cant tolerate the heat). It is preferable to replace the entire length; it is cheap at the price.
Exterior A/C Maintenance Checklist
Now lets move along to the outside of your home. First, do a visual inspection of your HVAC condenser. Usually, this is the cube shaped unit with a fan that squats on a concrete or plastic pad outside your house.
The top as well as the interior of the unit must be clean and free of all debris (see the photo at the top of this article). Be sure there is no power to the unit when working on the condenser.
Even though the increasingly-popular ductless mini-split air conditioners need minimal maintenance by comparison, this step is important for them too.
You will observe some metal cooling fins situated on the outside. Be extremely careful when working on these fins. First, since they are very sharp they will cut you to the bone.
Next, because they are so thin, they will bend very easily. However, they have to be straight to be effective and maintain energy efficiency. They are easy to straighten out using a condenser fin comb.
Use a very soft brush or your garden fixed with a high-pressure nozzle (like you use to wash the car, not a pressure sprayer) to clean between the fins to optimize air flow.
Next, return back inside your house and replace your return air filter. Make a note to replace it every month on the first of the month, the day your pay your electric bill, or whatever mnemonic works for you.
Steadily increasing energy bills are a prime incentive to perform this important money-saving ritual. Not only that, it will extend the life of your furnace, the unit that usually lives in the attic that also works with your central heating.
Ready to get started? Do it yourself or find thousands of unbiased ratings on the best – and worst – electricians and service companies in your area. Try Angies List. Have a comment? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.