Prepare your air conditioner for summer

It’s never too soon to begin preparing for the dog days of summer.

This includes taking a few simple steps to make sure your air-conditioning system is ready to properly cool your home.

Begin by clearing the area around your outdoor compressor, removing leaves, twigs and other debris that may have accumulated over the winter. The space around and above the unit should be clear and uncluttered.

Next, check the system’s filters, typically located along the return duct. Dirty filters can block airflow and reduce system efficiency, so it’s important to clean or replace them regularly, preferably every month when the system is operating.

Holes or separated joints in the ductwork can also impact airflow and efficiency, so turn your system on and make sure air is flowing properly through the vents. If you suspect a leak in the ductwork, hire a professional to make the necessary repairs.

Use this time to caulk and weather-strip around doors and windows. This often overlooked step will help keep cool air inside your home during warm summer months and warm air outside.

It’s also a good idea to add insulation around air-conditioning ducts when they are located in unconditioned spaces, such as attics, crawl spaces and garages.

Finally, contact a certified technician to do a preseason check of your system. An annual inspection should include:

• Cleaning indoor and outdoor coils.

• Checking your system’s refrigerant charge and adjust it, if necessary, to meet manufacturer specifications.

• Cleaning and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow.

• Lubricating all moving parts.

• Inspecting the condensate drain for clogs that can cause water damage, affect indoor humidity levels, and breed bacteria and mold.

• Checking thermostat settings and system controls to ensure proper and safe operation.

• Tightening all electrical connections.

• Measuring voltage and current on motors.

Taking these steps to prepare your air conditioner for summer will also help to extend the life of your system and save you money by detecting small issues before they become major problems.