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The Summer of 2013 may have gotten off to a slow start, but temperatures are going to be above 90°F in Boston throughout the weekend. This unusual rise in temperature may be a challenge for those with air conditioning. Boston isn’t known for its extreme temperatures, but it is important to make sure your air conditioner is ready to help you beat the heat!

When the temperature rises, it’s natural to kick on the air conditioner, but there are a few air conditioner maintenance steps you should take to help ensure that you have a trouble-free summer season. Central air conditioning units usually have two components: an outside unit and an inside one. Both parts of the system are important, and require routine maintenance to operate efficiently.

If you haven’t already done so, take a look at your outside unit, which contains the system’s condenser and compressor. Turn off the power to the unit at the circuit breaker, and remove the metal housing. Remove all organic debris that may have accumulated over the winter, including leaves, seeds, and spider webs. Using a hose, gently spray the unit to remove any residual dirt and accumulations. Debris can reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner by 5%-10%, so it’s worth it to take the time to get the outside unit cleaned up.

While you’ve got the unit open, visually inspect for any apparent damage to the condenser coils and the compressor. If you see any obvious damage or leaks, contact a heating and cooling professional for assistance. If everything appears to be in order, put the housing back on and secure it.

Inside the house, you’ll want to look at the evaporator, which is often housed in or near your furnace. Sometimes, the air handler will be located elsewhere, but you’ll want to find it and open up the evaporator. The evaporator should be clean, free from dust, debris, mold and rust.

If your evaporator is in poor condition, your air conditioner will not work well, if at all. Your evaporator can be cleaned, but if it has never been serviced or has started to deteriorate, you may want to consider replacing it. This isn’t a do-it-yourself task, but the benefit will be that your air conditioner will be more efficient, it will cost less to operate, and your home will be healthier and more comfortable.

While you’ve got the inside unit open, change the air filter – also located in or near the furnace. Changing your air filter monthly will help your unit maintain efficiency, reduce your electric bill, and will help ensure that your central air conditioning system doesn’t become a haven for dust, mold and other airborne irritants.

One these simple maintenance tasks have been completed, return the power to your air conditioner and turn it on. Set the thermostat to a comfortable operating temperature and observe the unit for awhile. If the system turns on inside, but not outside, check for a second electrical breaker and make sure the outside unit has power.

A small amount of frosting may be considered normal, but if the outside unit ices over while operating, contact a heating and cooling service professional for assistance.

Likewise, if the system begins to leak water, this is a symptom of a condensate drain clog. Contact a heating and cooling professional for assistance if this occurs while your unit is operating.

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating is ready to provide you with exceptional heating and cooling services, including air conditioner installation, maintenance and repair. Call us at (617) 362-0377 anytime for assistance with your air conditioning unit.

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DIY Air Conditioning, DIY Blog

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