Perhaps because of their omnipresence on the Texas landscape, we all expect our air conditioners just to work whenever we need them to. However, like any machine, your air conditioner is prone to its own set of problems. Especially as we transition into the height of summer, it’s especially important to ensure that your AC is working properly.
If you suspect that your air conditioner is having a problem and you got the free time to do some home improvements, then you can perform your very own AC inspection. Performing these routine inspections on a regular basis is a great way to ensure that your HVAC system stays fully operational all throughout the year. Of course, for those moments where you don’t have time, you can always trust New Braunfels number one choice for air and heating repair, Legacy Air Conditioning and Heating.
Tune in, Turn on, and Cool Off with Your Thermostat
The obvious place to start with your at-home AC inspection is with the thermostat. Making sure that your thermostat is working correctly is fairly easy. Start by ensuring both the heating and cooling mechanisms turn off and on and engage the presets. An easy way to check that your thermostat is working properly is to set the temperature at 10° cooler than you usually keep it. After a few minutes, step outside and take a look at your AC. The fan should be turning normally and you should hear a low hum.
If you find that the dial is sticking or that the buttons don’t seem to be working, you can open the unit, and carefully clean the inside of it with a Q-tip. With your thermostat looking spick-and-span, head out to your power breaker and turn off the power to your air conditioning unit.
Take a Quick Trip Outside
The first part of your AC inspection should be to examine the exterior of your air conditioning unit. Check to see that the unit is clean and free of any debris or obstructions. Remember, your air conditioner works by drawing air from outside through its condenser coils and forcing the treated air into your home. If there are things like branches, leaves, or other debris blocking the vents of your AC, it can limit the performance of the unit.
An easy way to limit the amount of debris that makes its way into or onto your AC is to keep at least two-feet of distance between the AC unit and any nearby vegetation. While it’s tempting to build a structure around your AC, resist the temptation. If there are any signs of damage like dents, cracks, or bends, make a note of these and be sure to call our AC service specialists later.
Don’t Recoil from the Condenser Coils
Much like the exterior of your unit needs to stay clean, so does the interior. Your condensing coils will need to be cleaned frequently. Often, your coils will be covered by dirt, dust, and other yard trimmings throughout the year. Fortunately, cleaning your coils is fairly easy. If you have ready access to them you can simply spray them down with a garden hose. This is often enough to knock loose any performance inhibiting debris. In some cases, the condensing coils on your air conditioner may be protected by a grill. You’ll need to remove this grill before you can get to the coils first.
After you’ve washed off your condensing coils you can take a moment to examine your refrigerant lines. Typically, most air conditioners will have two refrigerant lines. You’ll want to examine the larger one by pulling back the insulation and touching it. This line should have the same cold feeling that a can of soda in your refrigerator does. Additionally, this line should have some condensation on it. A little bit of loose liquid is fine, but if you see ice or frost do not touch the line. This could be a symptom of a much larger issue.
How Do You Feel on the Inside
Once you’ve cleaned and inspected your air conditioner outside, it’s time to head back inside and turn the power back on. With the air conditioner running, it’s time to check the airflow of your ductwork. This process is simple and even a little entertaining. Take a one-foot piece of string and hold it in front of each of your vents. If the string flutters and flaps and hangs nearly horizontal, this is a sign that you’re getting adequate airflow through ducts. You can check that your air return vents are working properly by holding up a tissue in front of them. If they’re drawing in enough air, the tissue should press itself against the grilles and stay there.
Get a Handle on Your Air Handler
Now that you know your return and supply vents are open and free of debris, you can examine your indoor air handler. This is the device that regulates and circulates the treated air from your AC into your home. Typically, the air handler will look like a large metal box that contains a blower and cooling and heating elements. You’ll also find your filters in there too. Listen for any sounds like squealing, grinding, or hissing. These sounds could be signs of issues like improperly installed components, refrigerant leaks, or problems with belts and blowers.
Before you dive into your air handler, make sure that the power is off. With the power off, you can find your air filter. This may be located inside the air handler itself, or behind one of your return grills. In some cases, your home may have more than one air filter. Remove the old filter and place it into a large plastic trash bag for disposal. Vacuum the area around where the filter goes and install the new filter. If you’re using a reusable air filter, make sure it is washed at least once a month.
With the filter cleaned or replaced, you can now move on to inspecting your blower. This is also part of your indoor air handler. Make sure that the power to the air conditioner and the air handler is off, and remove the cover of the blower to inspect it. With a flashlight, look at the blades and check for cleanliness or signs of damage. If the blades appear damaged or dirty, it’s time to call a professional.
Schedule Your AC Inspection In New Braunfels Today
A DIY AC inspection is easier than it sounds. However, if you don’t trust yourself to carry out your own AC maintenance, then it’s time to call New Braunfels’ AC and heating repair specialists. With over 30 years of experience, we offer the knowledge and know-how you need to keep your HVAC systems running smoothly. Contact us today to schedule you AC service call.