8 Easy DIY Steps to Make Your AC Run at Maximum Efficiency
When you consider that your heating and cooling bills account for about half of your energy expenses year round, it makes sense that a little maintenance can go a long way in making your system run more efficiently and saving you money. With that in mind, the team at Lancaster Brothers Heating and Cooling has put together this 8-Step DIY plan to help your system run at peak efficiency.
Before you begin, turn off the power to the unit. Turn the condenser switch on the outside unit to the “off” position. Go to your breaker box and turn off the breaker to your furnace and AC. You don’t want it turning on while you have your hands near the fan blades!
Indoor AC Steps
1. Clean the evaporator coils
On many systems, these will be behind a door near the blower motor. It may even be sealed with foil tape. Open the cover and use a soft brush to dust off the coils. A paint brush or dust pan broom should work just fine. Spray the coil with coil cleaner, letting it drip into the drain pan. Afterwards, clean the drain pan with soap and hot water. Check the drain to make sure water is flowing freely. If it does, you can skip the next step.
2. Clean the evaporator drain tube
This tube is usually a 1-inch PVC pipe coming from the evaporator. It could be white or clear. Follow it to where it drains out. Attach the wet/dry vacuum to this end, sealing it with duct tape or with a rag. Remove the vacuum’s filter to avoid damaging it and turn the vacuum on for 2-3 minutes to clear out any blockage.
3. Change the air filter
This should be done once a month on average (though manufacturers’ recommendations may vary by unit). At the bare minimum, change it twice a year; once at the start of the cooling season and once at the start of the heating season.
4. Turn the power back on and let it go through a full cycle
If it’s not cooling like it used to, it’s time to call a pro.
Outdoor AC Steps
5. Clean out around your condenser
Make sure the unit is free from plants, sticks, dirt, mud, animal nests and any other foreign objects. Rake any ground-level debris away from the condenser and prune any branches or bushes away at least two feet.
6. Clean the condenser
Remove the grate over the fan and vacuum away any debris found inside. With a garden hose, spray the fins from the inside out. (Never use a pressure washer. The fins are very thin and can be easily damaged.)
7. Inspect the fins
They are very thin and bend easily. If you see damaged spots, straighten them gently with the butter knife or fin tool. Be careful not to damage the tubing within the fins.
8. Level the condenser
As soil settles, it’s not unusual for the condenser pad to lean or sink on one side. Using shims and a level, bring the condenser back to a level position.
Following these steps will keep your home’s indoor air cleaner, reduce allergy symptoms, and allow your system to work more efficiently, reducing energy costs.