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How to Service an AC Unit

For many homeowners, the spring is the time to open the doors and windows and go without using their HVAC systems. That is if the weather permits. However, it doesn’t mean you should completely ignore your system and forget about it. In fact, it’s a time you want to pay great attention so it’s ready to go when you need it the most. If you maintain your HVAC system, you’ll not only save on your monthly fuel bills, you’ll also extend the system lifespan. Plus, your home will be comfortable year-round.

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How Often Should Air Conditioning Units Be Serviced?

It’s probably a good idea to include your heating and cooling equipment as part of your routine household maintenance. You’ll want to check your air filter monthly. And you should always make sure your outside unit is free from leaves, debris, and dirt that might obstruct the airflow.

For heat pumps handling both heating and cooling, you’ll want to have a system tune-up in spring and fall, before the start of each new comfort conditioning season.

Air-conditioner-only systems should have full service at least once a year — in the springtime before the temperatures start to rise.

In either case, you can have one of our expert technicians do our 21-point system inspection or do it yourself, following the process below.

tech maintaining your ac unit

How To Clean Your AC Unit

You’ll want to start by removing dust, leaves, debris, and other items that may have accumulated over the winter months. Also, check to make sure the shrubbery you planted to camouflage the unit has not grown too close. Keep it at least two feet away.

You’ll also want to make sure your dryer vent isn’t pointing toward your AC unit and blowing lint into the system.

The main idea is to make sure nothing obstructs the flow of outside air to your system. Then follow the steps for cleaning both outside and inside components.

Service Your Own AC Unit

CYCLE your thermostat on and off
It’s probably smart to begin with a system check, powering the unit off and on at your thermostat, to make sure everything is operating as designed. If not, you may want to call in an HVAC expert.

Before taking the next steps, you’ll want to make sure you power down the system, turning the condenser switch to the “off” position and turning off the breaker at your circuit breaker box. You don’t want the system kicking on while you’re trying to maintain it.

Outside AC Maintenance

Clean the evaporator coil and drain
Locate the evaporator coils behind a door above the blower, and dust them, using a soft paintbrush. Next, spray them with coil cleaner, letting the solution drip into the drain pan. Clean the drain pan with soap and hot water, making sure the drain flows freely.

If it backs up, you’ll need to clean the evaporator drain, a one-inch PVC pipe coming off the evaporator enclosure. Follow the pipe to where it drains out, then use a wet/dry vacuum for two to three minutes to remove any blockage.

Clean and level the condenser
Remove the grate over the fan and vacuum any debris found inside at the condenser. Check to make sure the condenser is level. If not, use shims to bring it back to a level position. Note that the pad in a heat pump system may be sloped away from your home’s foundation to allow for defrost run-off.

Clean and inspect the fins
Remove the outer covers and vacuum away any outside dirt. Then, spray the fins with a gentle stream of water from a garden hose. Do not power wash.

Look for any fins that are flattened and gently straighten them with a butter knife or fin tool, exercising care not to damage the tubing inside the fins.

Inside AC Maintenance

Clean and inspect ducts
Clean and inspect system ductwork to make sure seals are intact.

Change your filter
Change the filter before each heating season – once a year for air conditioning and twice for a full heating and cooling system. Make sure the new filter has the same air-flow rating as the one you’re replacing.

Ask for Help

What if your air conditioner is frozen? Or If you uncover any problems while servicing your unit? We can help.

Our expert technicians have decades of experience maintaining and repairing air conditioning systems and have more trucks on the road servicing customers in our area. Just let us know how we can help.

And, if it can’t wait, we have emergency HVAC service available 24-7.

Our team at Horizon Services can help you with your maintenance and repairs so your HVAC system is working right. We can recommend a maintenance schedule that fits you, as well as any services you may need.


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