As fall and winter arrive in Southern Florida, it’s time to consider having your AC maintained professionally. Why now? Florida AC systems generally don’t have a lifespan of more than 15 years. If it’s discovered that your AC system is failing, you want to know before summer’s hot, humid weather returns. It helps to have a few months to plan for an AC replacement. Plus, now is a good time for finding central AC systems at discounted rates as demand for replacement systems is higher when it’s hot outside.
Some maintenance tasks are easy for you to do on your own, but you need the time and equipment to do the job right. That’s why many homeowners prefer to hire a professional. You may want an expert for some of the items on a fall and winter AC inspection and cleaning checklist. Here are the components you need to look at.
Check or Install a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats are a must when you have a central AC system. These thermostats are programmable, so you can select a temperature when you’re at home, when you’re sleeping, or when you’re at work and the thermostat and AC system work together to ensure your home is warm or cool enough. Plus, you’ll be able to check the app while you’re running errands, leaving work, or away on vacation. If your home is too warm or too cool, you’ll know.
If you have a smart thermostat already, you should calibrate it each fall. Use a secondary thermometer to check that it’s close to the temperature you expect it to be. Clean it with canned air if there’s dust build-up.
Do you have an older manual thermostat? If you haven’t upgraded to a smart thermostat, now is a great time.
Clean the Condenser Unit
Head outside to your condenser unit. Shut off the power and check the wiring for any loose connections. Check the grills for debris. Clean any leaves, twigs, sticks, and other debris. Use a hose to clean off the condenser coils. If there are bent fins, straighten them with a fin comb.
Look around the condenser unit’s pad and general area. Is the pad cracked or has it shifted after flooding rains? Have shrubs expanded so that they’re too close? They need to be trimmed back to ensure nothing is blocking airflow.
Check the Evaporator Unit
Inside, you have the evaporator unit. Make sure the power is still off. Use a fin and plenum brush to clean any dust or dirt build-up. Again, a fin comb can help straighten any bent fins.
Check the condensation drain pan for excess water. If water is building up, the drain tube may be plugged. Use a wet vac to suction the liquid and any crud from the line. Next, flush the tube with distilled vinegar or bleach to kill any formed algae or mold.
After doing this, turn the power back on and run the unit. Listen for any unusual noises. If there are loose components, you want to address those issues before something shakes loose and causes damage.
Replace the Air Filter
After a summer of daily use, the air filter is likely pretty dirty with months of dust, pet hair, and dander. It’s time to replace the filter. Generally, an AC system that is used daily should have the filter replaced a minimum of every few months, but you may need to do this more often if you have a lot of pets.
If you’ve replaced the air filter in the past month or two, check it to see if it’s necessary. Hold your filter up to the light and see if you can see through it at all or if it’s full of dust, dirt, and hair. If so, replace it.
What type of filter should you purchase? Take your existing filter and replace that one. If you find that it’s not doing enough, especially if you have allergies, you may want to upgrade to a higher efficiency rating (MERV). Most households can choose a MERV of 8 to 10, but 11 or higher may be better if you have severe allergies or asthma.
Vacuum Air Vents
Put an upholstery attachment on your vacuum nozzle and clean all air vents. Remove dust and hair to maximize airflow. While you’re cleaning them, make sure that furniture and décor are not blocking any of them.
If you have limited space and have to put an item near a vent, try to stick with open shelving on tables or bookcases. Use chairs that are raised off the floor with legs to ensure air is able to move through or under the item.
Consider removing the plate and looking into the ducts. Do you see a lot of dust build-up? If your home smells musty or you see mildew in the vents, hire a Florida AC expert to inspect your ducts, it may be time to arrange duct sealing, cleaning, or restoration services.
Inspect Your Ducts
For the ducts in the attic or basement that you can look at, check for cracks, holes, or other issues. Ducts in the walls are hard to see, so you should consider having your ducts inspected by a professional.
You don’t want cracks, holes, and other issues causing cool or warm air to leak out in your walls, basement, or attic space. It forces your central AC unit to work more, which drives up your bills.
A duct cleaning is worthwhile if it’s been a few years since your system was installed. Ideally, you should have them cleaned at least every three years. A duct cleaning starts with an inspection of the ductwork. Vents are sealed to prevent any dust and dirt from blowing out into the home. Motorized brushes and compressed air loosen dust and grime from inside the ducts. The dirt, dust, and hair are suctioned into a vacuum extraction unit.
If there are signs of mold and mildew, the technician will let you know. You may want to add additional services like duct restoration or duct sanitization. Holes or cracks should be repaired using duct sealing or duct replacement.
Schedule Professional AC Maintenance and Cleaning
Many homeowners run their AC units year-round due to Southern Florida’s warm, tropical weather. Even if your system isn’t working as hard as it does in the summer, you still want to make sure your system is running efficiently and effectively. Avoid costly utility bills by having a system that’s running constantly or turning on and off too often.
There’s another reason to schedule Florida AC service now. Air conditioning technicians may be busier than usual in the spring and summer months. Emergency repairs may end up costing you more than you expected. Have your system cleaned and inspected in the off-season. If your system is about to fail, you have time to prepare before spring and summer’s hottest days return.
All Year Cooling offers free evaluations with every service call. Schedule All Year Cooling for central AC maintenance for a comprehensive evaluation that will let you know if your system is in great shape for the summer to come.