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3 Steps To Follow Before Turning On The AC

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As winter comes to an end and the spring season starts warming up the outdoors and your home, you may start thinking about air conditioning. Not only is your AC unit important for keeping your home and family cool during the warmer seasons, but it is also necessary for removing humidity that can lead to unhealthy air quality levels inside your home. If you are like many homeowners, you may simply hit a few buttons on your thermostat when it is time to start cooling the home. However, the following steps should be taken before using your air conditioner if you want to ensure it is working in the most efficient and effective manner.

Inspect the Outdoor Units

First and foremost, you should spend some time inspecting your outdoor unit (or units if you have multiple) for signs of distress.

Once the spring arrives, overgrown shrubs, trees, and flowers may be preventing air flow to and from your units. Without sufficient air flow, your unit will struggle to cool your home, increasing energy costs over time.

Use pruning shears to trim overgrowth from shrubs and flowers. For the best ventilation, make sure there is at least 2 to 3 feet between the plants and your outdoor units. Trees can increase the risk of fires, so it is best to plant them many feet away from your outdoor units.

After trimming the plants, clear away any debris that may be stuck inside the exterior. Leaves, flowers, mulch, pine needles, trash, and even small animals should all be cleared away from the units.

You should also check the panels of your units. If the panels are loose or rusted, the underlying electrical components will be exposed, which can lead to a system failure or fire.

Inspect and Replace Filters

Inside your home, you should check and replace the air conditioner's filters. These filters are designed to trap dirt, dust, and dander before it enters the home during the heating and cooling process. If the filters are clogged with debris, your home will struggle to get cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Many people will wait to replace their filter until it appears dirty, but large amounts of dirt, dust, mold spores, and bacteria may not be visible in the filter.  To ensure your system is moving conditioned air into your home in the most efficient and cost-effective way, you need to replace these disposable filters once a month. Before you turn your air conditioner on for the first time is also a great time for this inspection and replacement.

After removing the filter from the register, use your vacuum attachment to suction away any buildup of dirt and dust inside the register opening. You should also clean the register cover using a solution of hot water and liquid dish soap. Make sure it dries before reinstalling the cover and your new filter.

Check the Thermostat

Lastly, spend some time inspecting your thermostat. To get started, turn off the breaker that runs power to your thermostat. 

Remove the cover plate from your thermostat. Use a flashlight to help you see clearly into the interior. A soft paintbrush or cloth can be used to remove dirt and dust that is building up inside.

If your thermostat uses a mercury switch for temperature readings, it must be level at all times. Use a leveling tool to ensure it is installed on your wall evenly. If there is an issue, remove the thermostat from the wall and reinstall it in a level position.

Many digital thermostats have a low-battery warning light to notify you when a replacement is needed. Even if the warning light is not lit, consider replacing the batteries before you start air conditioning your home.

Heating and cooling is a large expense, so you should make sure your system is in proper working condition. Before the cooling season begins, use this guide to prepare your system for efficient and effective air conditioning. Contact a company like A-1Finchum Heating for additional advice.


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