Winter may still be underway right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start preparing for spring cleaning. This year, get the job done right by beginning with one of your home’s most crucial systems: your central air conditioning system. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t even realize they’re supposed to be cleaning parts of their HVAC systems.
If you’ve never inspected and cleaned your AC unit, it’s time to make a change because neglecting this essential maintenance task can lead to premature HVAC system aging, unnecessary repairs, and costly drops in efficiency. Spring is the perfect time to clean your air conditioner, not just because the longer days and warmer temperatures make it easier to stay on task but because it means you’ll be able to identify potential problems before you start using the unit again for the summer.
What Homeowners Can Do
Some tasks, such as duct maintenance and cleaning, and mechanical inspections, are best left to the professionals. We’ll go over the spring cleaning tasks you’ll want to entrust to an HVAC technician later in this article, though. For now, let’s focus on what you can do to keep your AC system in great condition.
1. Test the System
Yes, we know, technically testing your AC system doesn’t involve cleaning anything, but don’t put away your dust cloth yet. Testing your AC unit is a good place to start because after lying dormant for months, the system may need repairs or even a replacement, and there’s little point in cleaning an air conditioner that will need to be replaced, anyway.
2. Change the Filter
Your AC unit’s filter is designed to keep the whole system, from blower fans to ducts, clean and operating as intended. It catches everything from dirt, hair, and grime to smaller airborne contaminants like dust particles, improving the air quality inside your home and keeping your AC unit functioning at optimal efficiency. To perform these essential tasks, your filter needs to be changed at least every 90 days, or every 45 days if you want your unit to operate at maximum efficiency.
3. Clean the Return Air Vents
Return air vents are known for accumulating dust and debris as the air passes through, so it’s a good idea to clean them more than once a year. That said, spring cleaning is a great time to remove any buildup. You can use a vacuum to get rid of the dust, but you might need a rag to get rid of stuck-on grime.
4. Dust and Declutter
This may not seem like an AC maintenance task, but it is. If there’s tons of furniture, boxes, or general clutter in front of your air vents or a layer of dust built up over every surface, both of those factors will influence your air conditioner’s ability to maintain comfortable temperatures and healthy indoor air quality.
5. Clean and Check the Thermostat
While you’ve got your dust cloth out, make sure to give the thermostat a once-over. Pull out the batteries, remove any dust or debris from the compartment, and exchange them for new ones now so you won’t have to worry about your air conditioner failing to turn on at exactly the wrong time.
6. Clean Around the Condenser
To work correctly, your AC system’s condenser needs to be free of obstructions. Since this crucial part is located outside, you’ll need to remove leaves, weeds, plants, rocks, and any other debris you find from a two-foot radius around the unit. It can also help to use a low-pressure garden hose to rinse grass, leaves, and dirt off the top and sides of the unit.
7. Clean and Check the Fins
If you feel comfortable with this task, it’s fine to inspect the fins on your condenser unit, remove any dust, and straighten them out gently to ensure that they’ll allow air to flow freely into the system. That said, you don’t have to worry about this task if you’re uncomfortable with it. A qualified HVAC tech will check 100% of your system, including the outdoor condenser and its fans, during each annual inspection and maintenance visit.
What to Expect During a Professional AC Cleaning
While homeowners are encouraged to perform the basic AC inspection, cleaning, and maintenance tasks described above, those tasks certainly don’t replace the need for professional maintenance visits. When HVAC technicians clean AC units, they’re far more thorough. These industry experts also know just what to look for when it comes to worn and damaged parts, which means scheduling a routine cleaning can also alert homeowners to potential problems before they come up.
Already have an appointment and wondering what to expect during your annual cleaning and maintenance visit? Here are just a few of the tasks that your HVAC tech will tackle:
- Checking and cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils in the outdoor unit
- Cleaning the condensate pan and the drain
- Cleaning and lubricating moving parts such as fan motors and compressors
- Checking the thermostat, electrical connections, and refrigerant levels
- Evaluating the unit to make sure it’s operating at peak efficiency
As you can see, some of these tasks require taking apart your AC unit to get to the sensitive mechanical components inside. Unless you have dedicated experience in the HVAC industry, you’ll want to leave those cleaning tasks to the pros.
What About Duct Cleaning?
Just like it’s better to let the pros tackle any task that requires opening up your AC unit, it’s also best to leave duct cleaning to the experts. Unlike other routine maintenance and cleaning tasks, you don’t need to schedule duct cleaning every year. Check the EPA recommendations for information about when to have your ducts cleaned.
Texas Homeowners Trust AC TEX
Whether you plan to tackle as many of the routine cleaning tasks above as you can or leave it all to your HVAC technicians, you can trust the experts at AC TEX, LLC. We’ve got all the experience, equipment, and expertise required to clean, maintain, inspect, repair, and replace any kind of residential AC system, so reach out to one of our representatives online or by phone when you’re ready to schedule your spring air conditioner cleaning and maintenance visit.
Blake Brumfield is the owner of AC TEX, LLC Air Conditioning and Heating. He is a graduate of Lindsey-Cooper Refrigeration School and has over 6 years of working experience out in the field. Blake holds a Universal EPA License, Certified Technician License, and a HVAC Contractor License. In addition to his love of the outdoors, Blake spends most of his free time continuing to study and learn about today’s modern HVAC systems.