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Feeling Warm? 11 Things to Check Before Turning On the A/C

Feeling Warm? 11 Things to Check Before Turning On the A/C

Spring weather in metro Atlanta can be pretty unpredictable. You can start off the morning with freezing temps, only to fry in the sizzling sun by afternoon. One thing's for certain...summer is approaching and you'll need your a/c soon!

Now is the best time to make sure your cooling system is ready to handle our summer scorchers. By checking your system now, you can do simple repairs or call for service from a professional before the weather gets warmer. Waiting and crossing your fingers when you go to turn on the system on our first hot day could cause days of sweaty misery while you wait for repairs.

While you should always consult a licensed HVAC professional for replacement or repairs, there are some simple steps you can take to inspect the different parts of your system to be sure the cool air will blow when you need it.

Indoor Equipment

Start your thermostat in the "off" position with the temperature turned to a high setting (around 80 degrees), then check the following:

1. Look at thermostat. Is it outdated? You could save money and energy by installing a newer, programmable thermostat.

2. Check any exposed ductwork for wear, which could be a source of cooling loss or inefficiency in the home.

3. Look at air vents around the home. Remove any items that could block airflow, such as drapes, furniture or toys.

4. Check the drain line. There is a drain by the indoor cooling coil, typically mounted above the furnace. Air conditioner drain lines may become clogged when there is a buildup of dirt collected by the indoor coil. Drain lines should be cleaned by a professional at least once a year.

5. Change your air filter. The filter should be changed every three months (or as recommended by the manufacturer) and definitely before the start of a new cooling or heating season.

6. Check circuits to be sure electrical connections are on.

7. Be sure the power is turned "on" at the HVAC unit.

Outdoor Equipment

8. Inspect the outdoor condenser unit. Clean the area around the unit and make sure there is no blockage in or near the equipment. Debris such as leaves, vines and overgrown weeds can clog the interior components and affect performance. Also, check for any missing panels.

9. Visually check the refrigerant lines. The lines should be insulated. Proper insulation will improve the efficiency of the system. Repairs to the insulation or refrigerant lines should be done by a professional.

10. Check to make sure there is no wear on the outdoor electrical wiring. If you see damage or wear, call a professional for service before using your system.

11. Know when it's time to replace your unit. Air conditioners have a lifespan. Even if your unit has been properly maintained, it will eventually wear out. On the bright side, replacing even a 10-year-old unit can cut your cooling costs by up to 40%, thanks to the newest efficiency improvements on new models.

Time to Turn on Your A/C

After you have inspected both the indoor and outdoor equipment, you can turn on the system to test it.

Step 1: Lower the temperature on your thermostat to the desired level and turn the system "on" at the thermostat.

Step 2: Go outside and listen to make sure that the fan in the condenser is running and that it doesn't sound irregular. The air coming out of the top of the unit should feel warm, as warm air is being removed from your home by the system.

Step 3: Let the system run for 10 - 15 minutes or more until you can feel the indoor temperature cooling off in all parts of the home.

Plan Ahead to Keep Cool

The last thing you want on a hot, sticky, humid summer day is to discover your ac has conked out. So, plan on having your system inspected and possibly tuned up at least once per year before the heat of summer hits. Taking the time now can mean avoiding days of sticky, sweaty, humid misery in the days to come.

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