Fall is just around the corner. And since it’s America’s most popular season (according to a poll from YouGov), there’s a lot to look forward to. With temperatures in Kentucky averaging a 68º high and 42º low, fall is the perfect season to shut off your air conditioner, open the windows, and relax.
Indeed, fall is the time to give your air conditioner a break and settle into the cool weather before it’s time to reprogram your thermostat and dust off that thermostat. Because of that, the end of summer is also the perfect time to get both your air conditioner and furnace ready for the colder months ahead.
So for your convenience, we put together a handy checklist you can consult when figuring out what to do with your HVAC system at the end of summer.
Central Air Conditioner Checklist
- Remove and clean the fan
- Straighten the fins of the outdoor unit
- Vacuum the fins
- Spray the fins with a hose
- Clean the evaporator coils
- Replace the filter with a HEPA-certified one
- Cover the top of the condenser unit with a tarp
- But not the entire thing
The best way to get your air conditioner ready for its long rest ahead is to make sure it’s clean and covered before autumn hits. Most central A/C units are very similar, so you shouldn’t have any trouble taking them apart if it’s your first time. If you’re having trouble removing the fan or finding where the filter is, try a few YouTube searches of your unit’s model number. If that doesn’t work, you’re best off just calling a professional.
To straighten the fins, you can either use a dinner knife or a fin comb. You’re more likely to have a dinner knife lying around, but fin combs do the job much better.
When you cover your outdoor A/C unit, you should never cover it all the way, like you would cover a grill. You should only cover the top. If you cover it all the way, moisture will get trapped inside the unit which will quickly mold and rust. Instead, just cover the top. In fact, a wooden plank a little larger than the unit itself will work fine for this.
While this is an excellent list for getting your air conditioner ready for it’s long rest and subsequent revival, there are still a lot of things that only a professional should do, such as checking the coolant levels or diagnosing oil leaks.
- Make sure the condensation drain isn’t clogged
- Make sure the exhaust outlets aren’t clogged
- Check for leaks in your ductwork and seal with them metal tape
- Clean your vents and air registers
- Switch your damper if you have one
- Oil your blower
- Replace the filter
A furnace’s filter is usually located around the base of the unit itself. If you’re having trouble finding it, consult your owners manual (a copy is usually on the manufacturer’s website if you don’t have it handy). Most of these steps can be accomplished without any special knowhow. Many furnaces have a sliding panel at the front that opens up, but yours might not. Again, owner’s manuals and Google are your friend here.
Dampers are switches that switch the flow of air between the air conditioner and furnace. If you don’t have a separate set of ducts for your air conditioner and furnace, you almost definitely have dampers. The location of your dampers depends, but they usually look like a round knob on the side of one of your ducts.
The inside of a furnace is an especially fragile place. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to break an essential part of your furnace: the igniter. Some furnaces have a pilot light, a small flame that burns all year long, and others have an ignition key, a piece of metal that heats up to ignite the flame. The ignition key is fragile, and it’s easy to damage if you aren’t careful. If you break your ignition key, not only will your furnace not produce any heat, but it could fill your home with explosive natural gas. If you’re at all worried about this, it’s best to call in for maintenance.
Other Things to Do
- Dust your fans
- Switch your thermostat programming
- Test your thermostat
- Schedule maintenance
Once you shut off your central A/C unit for the season, it’s time to run your ceiling fans! Ceiling fans help to circulate air and help the room feel more comfortable. But if you haven’t used yours in awhile, they’re probably covered in dust. Grab a ladder and some wipes and dust it clean.
You should also pay attention to your thermostat. Switch your thermostat from cooling to heating mode, and make sure you test it. An easy way to do that is by turning the thermostat to a few degrees hotter than it currently reads. So if your house is currently 70ºs, you should crank the thermostat up to 72º and wait a few minutes. If all is well, you should hear the furnace turn on and begin heating the home. If you don’t hear anything, you should get your equipment looked at.
Call Steve’s Heating and Cooling for Thorough Maintenance All Year Long
When it comes to keeping your HVAC system running smoothly, there is a lot you can do to keep your home comfortable and your energy bills low. But there are many things, like cleaning your heating coils, that only a professional should do. Without an expert’s expertise, you’re liable to ruin your system—a costly mistake.
So if you’re serious about taking care of your HVAC system, schedule a visit from Steve’s Heating. Our team has years of HVAC experience and will get your maintenance done in half the time it’d take you to do yourself. Plus, our Comfort Club members get 10% off any repairs that are needed.