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The Ultimate Guide to Summer AC Maintenance

The Ultimate Guide to Summer AC Maintenance

Why talk about AC maintenance anyway?  Well, for starters, the highest temperature ever recorded in Missouri was 118°F in July 1954. Although it seems like a lifetime ago, last month's record-breaking highs in various states may have you wondering if there may be a repeat of this sweltering heat very soon.

One way to prepare for such an occurrence is to ensure your air conditioning system is in good working order. Ad this involves regular AC maintenance.

If the St. Louis summer has left you in a quandary because you've put off regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system, don't worry. There's still time.

Read on for some AC maintenance tips to ensure you and your family stay cool and comfortable throughout summer.

AC Unit Basics

Cleaning vent

Regular air conditioning maintenance is essential to ensure your system works well, especially when you need it the most. It starts with knowing the basics of your central heating and cooling system.

Your AC system has two major elements:

  • Condenser unit - usually located outside your home
  • Evaporator unit - usually located in a central duct on your furnace or in the air handler

They work in unison to remove heat from the rooms in your home. It cools as it passes through your AC system. Your furnace blower or air handler then blows this dehumidified and chilled air throughout your house via air ducts.

Importance of HVAC Maintenance

If your AC breaks down, it can cost you a lot to repair. Regular maintenance can reduce these by as much as 95%. This ensures you save time and money dealing with numerous issues. Regular HVAC maintenance can also:

  • Keep you cooler and more comfortable.
  • Reduce the number of airborne pollutants in your home
  • Decrease the risk of carbon monoxide and frozen pipes
  • Reduce fuel consumption

There is some basic HVAC maintenance you can do yourself to ensure your system is running efficiently. However, it's also important that you schedule regular maintenance with a professional HVAC company annually. An AC professional should also handle any major issues you encounter with your system.

Summer's Effect on Air Conditioning Systems

If you're working outside during the summer, the heat can make you get tired a lot faster than when it's cooler. Your body not only has to work harder because of the heat, but the humidity and lack of regular airflow can affect you as well.

Your AC unit also has to work harder because of these factors when the temperature rises.


During the summer, there's more heat entering your home, especially if your windows and doors aren't sealed properly. Your AC has to try to convert this sweltering air into cooler air. The great thing is that HVAC systems are made to work well during these conditions. But it can only do this if your AC system parts are well maintained and in good working order. So AC maintenance is vital when in the summer


When it's humid, in addition to cooling the air, your AC now has to remove the damp air. You need to ensure your unit has the necessary cooling capacity. The alternative is sweaty, clammy skin along with frizzy hair!


Room Air Flow

The key to a cooler home is the free flow of air throughout your HVAC system. Clogged systems or obstructed air circulation will affect how efficiently your unit runs.

You should ensure your unit is in a location that promotes the free flow of air. Shrubbery and trees can affect circulation as unit blockages due to decking or other structures.

Summer AC Maintenance Tips

You must do your AC maintenance before summer. This ensures that you're not caught by surprise on a hot day when you realize your AC unit isn't working. However, before you do any maintenance tasks, ensure you turn off the power to your unit.

Turning Off Your Unit

You can do this via the service panel by turning off the power to the condenser. There is also a disconnect box near the condenser unit. The box usually has a circuit breaker, lever, or fuse. Whichever of these your disconnect box contains, use it to turn off the unit as well.

Changing the Filter

Most units have a reusable filter or one that's replaceable. They're usually located in the air handler cabinet or your furnace. They are easy to change and/or clean.

Do this at least twice a year, or if the filter looks clogged or dusty. This is important because a clogged filter affects the flow of air through your AC unit. This results in a less efficient unit that starts to recirculate dirt and dust into your home.

Cleaning the Condenser Coils

As mentioned, your condenser unit is usually located outside your home. It's hard to miss as it's a large box made out of metal. The grids on the sides of the condenser have fan blades in them.

If you don't use a tarp or condenser cover, debris, dirt, and leaves can accumulate in the unit. This can clog the unit's coils. You can use a hose with a special nozzle to clear the debris and dirt.

While doing this, ensure you don't get water on any electrical components or the fan motor. Also, try not to bend the fins or flood the unit. You can cover these parts to try to avoid accidentally getting water in them. Clean out any mud that may have accumulated, as well.

Trimming Shrubbery Near the Condenser Unit

Cutting shrubs

Trim any shrubbery near the condenser. This can include vines or weeds. These can prevent the free flow of air through the unit.

Carefully remove the top of the unit. The fan blade is usually attached, so secure the top of the unit so that the wiring and fan blades won't sustain any damage.

Remove any debris or leaves from the bottom of the condenser. Your condenser may also have a drain. If it does, make sure there's no debris in that as well.

When cleaning the fan blades of the condenser's blower, you can use a rag or a vacuum. Once cleaned, check for any loose bolts. The fan motor may have oil ports. You can lubricate it by spraying WD-40 or applying drops of lightweight oil.

Remember to remove any excess water before reassembling the condenser.

Testing Your Unit

Once you've dried the condenser unit thoroughly and reassembled it, check to ensure your HVAC system is working properly. Turn off your thermostat and then turn the power on the condenser unit back on. Remember you need to turn the power on at the main panel and at the disconnect box.

You can then switch your thermostat to a cool setting. You'll be able to determine if your unit is cooling as it should. If it isn't, you may need to contact an AC technician.

Checking Your Coolant Lines

There will be pipes or refrigerant tubes running from the evaporator on your air handler. These go to your condenser and are usually covered with insulation that helps them retain energy.

This foam coolant line insulation sometimes gets damaged or frayed. Check to see if any of your insulation is missing or damaged and replace it. You can wrap your coolant lines with foam insulation tape or use foam insulation sleeves.

Ensuring Lint From Your Dryer Can't Get Into Your AC Vents.

If your unit is close to your dryer, ensure the dryer's exhaust is not facing your AC vents. If not, lint from your dryer can get into your unit. This can affect how efficiently your unit will run.

Adjusting Your Thermostat

Turning off theromastat

If no one is at your home for long periods during the day, set your thermostat to a higher temperature before you leave. This lengthens your unit's life cycle and reduces the amount of time your unit works every day.

This will also reduce your energy bill every month. If you have a newer thermostat, you may be able to program it to suit your schedule. This will ensure that when you return, your home is cool.

Checking the Sealing on Your Ductwork

You must check the ductwork of your AC unit regularly. AC ductwork that isn't sealed properly will result in cool air escaping before it even gets into your home. This makes your unit work harder than it has to.

You can check the sealing on your ductwork by turning your AC system on. Place your hand over the metal to check the connections located between each section of the duct. If you feel any air, then there is an air leak.

This is probably due to a loose connection. The duct joints are particularly susceptible to this.

Ensuring Your Windows and Doors Are Properly Sealed

Your windows and doors should also be properly sealed. This is usually easier to detect when the weather is cooler. If your windows and doors aren't sealed properly, you'll feel the cool air.

In warmer weather, you can check the panes of your windows for any movement or rattling. You can also dampen your hand and place it near the seals of the window. On a windy day, you can use a candle by holding it near the seals to see if it blows out.

Staying Cool This Summer

It's hard to believe that it's already July. If you're surprised by how fast time is passing, you may have been caught off-guard with your AC maintenance. Despite this, you and your family must stay cool, especially as many states are experiencing higher than normal temperatures this year.

If you haven't had the chance to do regular HVAC maintenance this year, it might be wise to call in an HVAC professional.

Crystal Heating and Cooling offer Rapid Response which can ensure your family stays comfortable this summer. With over 50 years of experience in the industry, we can help you with all your AC maintenance and repair needs. Don't wait any longer. Schedule your service today!

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