Performing end-of-summer maintenance is a great way to reverse the ravages that nearly non-stop use has had on your air conditioner throughout the hot, dry summer season in Las Vegas. Although you probably won’t be using your air conditioner for a while after fall has officially rolled in, this maintenance is among some of the most important work that you’ll perform all year. Good maintenance just ahead of retiring your air conditioner for autumn and winter will ensure that this equipment is in prime condition when you need it again. The following is everything you should know about end-of-summer maintenance, including what you can and cannot do on your own.
Which Forms of Summertime Maintenance Should You Always Outsource?
Learning how to perform AC maintenance is certainly one way to limit your annual overhead costs. However, no matter how handy you are or how comfortable you become working on this equipment, there will always be a number of things that must be outsourced.
This is due in large part to the conditions and terms that are listed in the manufacturer warranty for your air conditioner. Not only do these agreements require warranty holders to have a basic level of maintenance completed throughout the projected lifespan of this equipment, but they also forbid unlicensed and inexperienced parties from tampering with certain components.
These conditions apply to motors and certain parts of the condenser and compressor units. For instance, although you can do a light dusting to eliminate collected debris, you should never do any work on components that requires you to remove parts in order to access other ones or that necessitates the removal of any interior component covers.
In most cases, you should limit yourself to performing basic inspections of these systems for signs of existing or developing damage. This can include letting the air conditioner run while checking for suspicious smells or strange operating sounds. You can also perform routine filter changes on your own, and you can clean all components that are accessible without removing covers or enclosures. However, you should never attempt to repair damaged refrigerant lines or replenish refrigerant when a leak exists. Nor should you access or repair motors. Hiring a licensed HVAC contractor to perform your end-of-summer maintenance is always the safest, easiest and surest way to get your equipment ready for seasonal retirement.
Surprising Benefits of Professional End-of-Summer Maintenance
Hiring professionals to perform your end-of-summer maintenance can provide a few surprising benefits. Apart from keeping your warranty intact and ensuring that all important components are properly inspected, cleaned and replaced as needed, these service visits offer an excellent opportunity to get your entire home HVAC system ready for winter.
While your provider is on-site, you can have your furnace or boiler tuned up as well. You can also have your home checked for adequate insulation and any gaps, cracks or other openings that might allow cold drafts in. When the temperatures actually plummet, your heating system will already be primed and ready to go. Best of all, if you rely on home heating oil or propane, you can set up your winter delivery schedule, or you can have your tanks filled early. This is a good time to do so since it’s long before the peak seasonal demand. As far as warranties go, these visits will also provide an official record of maintenance. If repair issues do arise, you can prove that you have upheld your end of the warranty agreement.
Change and Upgrade Your Filter
Most air conditioners come with stock, fiberglass filters. Like many homeowners, you may have a history of replacing your air filters with the same basic option that came with the equipment initially. At summer’s end, you should always put a fresh filter in. This will ensure that this important component isn’t bogged down by stiff, dried accumulated debris after months of sitting. During this replacement, consider spending more for a pleated filter and one with a higher rating. Maximum efficiency reporting values or MERV ratings for air conditioner filters range between 1 and 16. The higher a filter is rated, the more airborne particulates it can remove. For optimum indoor air quality, choose one with a rating of 10 or greater.
What Professional Maintenance Will Include
Given their extensive training, licensed HVAC technicians can access and address all parts of your home cooling equipment. During an end-of-summer maintenance service, these professionals will:
- Clean the condenser coils
- Clean the compressor coils
- Clean and straighten the compressor fins as needed
- Check the condensate drain for blockages
- Inspect the entire system for leaks
- Remove loose debris from the condenser
- Replace any damaged or worn components
They can even clean out your ductwork if that service is needed. HVAC technicians can estimate the remaining lifespan of aging air conditioners, too. If your air conditioner is set to reach the end of its lifespan before or during the next cooling season, you can work with your provider to start planning for a replacement.
Caring for the Area Around the Outdoor Condenser Unit
One very important part of AC maintenance that you can definitely perform on your own is cleaning the outside condenser unit and the area around it. This component should always have an adequate amount of clearance on all sides. If it does not, overheating can occur, airflow will be impeded and impact-related damage may be sustained. Make sure that your kids or other people on your property aren’t leaving bicycles, scooters or any other recreational equipment resting against or too near the condenser. Check to ensure that there are no aggressive tree branches, shrubs or other foliage growing into this area. Cut all foliage back to maintain adequate clearance, and get rid of any twigs, rocks, broken branches or piles of dust that have blown into the space.
Should You Cover Your Condenser?
When homeowners have roof-mounted condensers, they may be advised to invest in hail covers. When heavy hailstorms pass through, these covers will prevent impact-related damage from occurring. When compared to the magnitude of damage that they’re capable of preventing, hail covers are more than capable of paying for themselves over time.
However, condensers that aren’t mounted on roofs but are instead installed at ground-level can also require added protection. More often than not, these units are manufactured with fairly durable enclosures as part of their designs. If they lack shading or shelter from roof overhangs or if they’re installed in areas that might be impacted by snow-melt, runoff or other rooftop drainage issues, additional coverage can be important. You can ask your HVAC contractor whether or not your condenser will benefit from the protection of an additional barrier. If you decide to install a condenser cover, never attempt to use one that you’ve made yourself. Tarps and other similar coverings greatly increase the risk of corrosion by trapping moisture inside.
At Polar Air & Heating, Inc., we offer a comprehensive suite of heating, air conditioning and indoor air quality services for both residential and commercial customers. These include installation, repair and, of course, maintenance. We’ve been proudly serving the Greater Las Vegas area since 1998. If you need help performing your end-of-summer air conditioner maintenance, we can provide it. Call us today to schedule an appointment.