Air Conditioner Maintenance Checklist: 8 Easy Steps

Preventive maintenance is essential to ensure the proper operation of a cooling unit. In the summertime, a cooling-type air conditioner is in high usage, and it is necessary to keep it working correctly. Some of this work is possible without calling a technician. If you are a house owner, it can help you identify and fix any problems you are experiencing. The AC should never fail during the most crucial season. Check out the AC maintenance checklist PDF.

When should I service my AC system?

Though there can be a bit of excitement in the room, generally speaking, you should have your air conditioner maintenance twice yearly: once in the fall season and once in the spring season. This is to ensure that it is properly cleaned, that its parts are in good condition, and that it is operating as best as possible.

In the fall season, HVAC agencies concentrate on your heater or furnace, so it is as prepared as it can be for the cold. After the weather has warmed in the spring season, HVAC technicians perform a tune-up schedule for air conditioners, so they are now ready for the humidity and heat.

This does not mean that you should not do anything yourself to maintain your air conditioner. You should. However, two times a year will do just fine when it comes to professional air conditioner maintenance.

man, mask, ac maintenance

AC Drain Line and Drain Pan Maintenance.

Using vinegar is one of the most effective solutions when cleaning air conditioner drain lines. Vinegar kills mold and other types of bacteria while also preventing buildup. Do this each month to keep your AC units performing at their best. The steps are easy enough to follow. To dissolve all the clogs in your drain line, you only need about 14 cups of vinegar flowing through it.

  1. Turn off your air conditioner. Shut down the thermostat and turn off your breaker.
  2. Look for the PVC pipeline, typically white, grey, or black. Follow this pipeline to the end, where it drains all the water. This should be your air conditioner’s drain line end location. Outside the house, the air conditioner drain pipeline should be attached to the wall, basically near the condenser unit. 
  3. Once you have located the drain line, look for the entry point. Most drain lines have T-shaped lines with a cap or cover. Remove the lid and look for the line blockage. You can take it out manually with steel wire if it’s visible, but you should wear protective gloves for safety. 
  4. Start by running the vinegar inside. If you have knock-down white vinegar, using it for increased acidity is better for cleaning buildups. Cleaning the air conditioner’s drain line with a vinegar solution should take approximately 30 minutes. For best results, you can leave the vinegar stew for longer. 
  5. Flush out the pipeline with water. After rinsing, check if the blockage is gone and everything flows freely. Have someone stand outside the house to see if water is draining from the AC drain pipeline. Do this work every 30 days or every three months.

You can also use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to clear the drain line. First, remove the paper filter from the vacuum cleaner to avoid ruining it. Hold the hosepipe to the end of the drain line and plug the gap using duct tape or a rag. Please turn on the vacuum cleaner for two to three minutes, then turn it off. This will be enough to suck out any scrap and unclog the drain.

condesed drain line maintenance

Upkeep of the AC’s electrical and control systems

Some AC electrical problems can arise only from broken electrical parts and faults in the AC’s wiring. Some common parts and issues lead to electrical failure in an air conditioner.

LOOSE WIRE

Within your air conditioner itself, many electrical parts bring power to different parts of the AC unit. If any of these wires come loose over time or with extra wear, it can break down power flow to those parts.

WRONG FUSE

Suppose you have already self-repaired or had your AC electrical system serviced by someone other than a professional technician. In that case, you might now have the incorrect replacement parts in your AC unit. This includes the wrong size or type of fuse for your specific HVAC system.

DIRTY FUSE

Just like filters need to be cleaned up to allow proper airflow, fuses need to be kept clean to allow the perfect flow of electricity. If your unit has not been appropriately maintained, ruins can block the connection between fuses.

BAD CAPACITOR

The capacitor is an essential part of the electrical system in an air conditioner. It stores charges and regulates the power of the system. If the capacitor fails, you could experience repeated AC electrical problems.

Wiring is in short supply.

When wires receive more electricity than they were designed to manage, they can short out. This can happen due to a power outage in a disaster, or the wires could become weak over time. This blocks the flow of electricity and causes fire accidents.

AC Evaporator and Condenser Coil Maintenance

The air conditioner’s evaporator and condenser coils become dirty over months and years of service. A clean air filter saves the evaporator coil from becoming dirty quickly. However, the evaporator coil will still collect dust and dirt over time. This dirt will reduce airflow and insulate the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. Check your evaporator coil every year and clean it to avoid this problem.

Outdoor condenser coils can also become dirty if the outdoor atmosphere is dusty or spread nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and look to see if dirt is collecting on its fins.

It would be best to minimize dirt and debris near the condenser unit properly. Your dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mower are all potential sources of all the dirt and debris. Cleaning the coil area, removing all debris, and trimming leafage back at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) allows enough airflow around the condenser.

Maintenance of Air Conditioning Filters

The most critical maintenance task that will ensure the best efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely clean or replace its filters. Clogged, dusty filters reduce the amount of airflow and significantly decrease a system’s efficiency. In addition, when airflow is reduced, air can bypass the filter and collect dirt directly into the evaporator coil, spoiling the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing a dirty, clogged air filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.

Air filters are generally located along the return duct’s length for central air conditioners. Common air filter locations are in walls, ceilings, or the air conditioner itself. Room air conditioners have a filter mounted on the grill in the front of the room.

Some types of air filters are reusable, but others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types, efficiencies, and types. Clean or replace your air conditioning system’s air filter or filters every month or two during the cold season. Filters may need more frequent observation if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dirty conditions, or if you have fur-bearing pets in your house.

The AC fan and blower maintenance process

  1. Access the washable filters by turning over the air conditioner cover. You can clean the washable air filters using clean water, soap, and a neat cleaning pad.
  2. To access the impeller, you will have to carry away the air vanes and the flap.
  3. Use a half-inch paintbrush to eject dirt or dust collected at the impeller. Nicely clean the impeller to ensure no dust is left behind.
  4. Clean up additional debris and dirt with a slightly wet rag. Get another clean and dry rag and use it to wipe away the entire impeller surface until it is shiny clean.
  5. Turning on the air conditioner unit will help get the last debris out. A handy air sweeper or vacuum cleaner can remove the debris during cleaning.

Clean or replace the HVAC air filter.

It depends on the type of air filter you have.

Disposable filters should be thrown away when they become dirty or clogged. These filters are cheaper (most cost between $1 and $4) and have cardboard frames. It is a good idea to keep several of these in stock so you can replace them throughout the year.

Permanent filters are more costly upfront but can save you money in the long run because you can clean more than replace these filters. More than cardboard, permanent air filters usually have fiberglass frames. 

First, turn off your heating or air conditioner to clean your HVAC air filter. Locate your HVAC unit’s service panel board, and open it to find the air filter. Clean the filter with flowing water from your sink or garden hose line. Allow your HVAC air filter to dry before re-inserting it completely.

Additional tips

When shopping for a new HVAC filter, check the label’s MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) number. It will range between 1 and 12 and indicate the standard of filtration. Aim for the higher numbers.

If you have trouble remembering to replace or clean your HVAC air filter, try setting an alert reminder on your phone.

If you have a pet that sheds a lot, be sure to air sweep or vacuum your floors regularly to keep your filter from jamming too quickly.

In addition to cleaning or changing your air filter, it is important to schedule HVAC system maintenance checks a minimum of twice per year to prevent issues and give your unit a tune-up.

Ductwork inspection and maintenance

You benefit from the HVAC inspection because you know exactly what steps to take next. Depending on your concerns about the above symptoms, you can get on the schedule for a maintenance service call to make a repair or get an HVAC quote to replace your system. If you are buying or selling a home, the inspection report will give you a good point of view on your HVAC system’s health and detail whether it needs any upgrades, repairs, or replacement.

No matter what make or model of HVAC system you have, experts may inspect the following:

  1. Run a thermostat test
  2. Inspect the air filters.
  3. Assess proper airflow.
  4. Examine the equipment’s condition.
  5. Examine the refrigerant levels in the unit.
  6. Examine the heater or furnace, the exhaust system, and the gas connections.
  7. Check the condensate drain line and drip pans.
  8. Check the blower motor’s condition.
  9. Check that safety equipment, surge protectors, and failure security are enabled.
  10. Evaluate the condenser, air handler or furnace, evaporator coil, electrical components, and compressor.
  11. Examine the equipment for any signs of pest infestation.
  12. Write a thorough diagnostic with recommendations and problem findings.

The goals are to check the basics and test the system’s capacity for any problems. From there, you will understand what you need to know and how to proceed with maintenance. The expected next steps are:

  • Fix or replace your HVAC system.
  • Organize the suggested accessories.
  • Plan or schedule routine HVAC tune-ups.

Depending on the current condition of your HVAC unit, it is possible to upgrade your equipment with any of the following processes:

  • Leak prevention
  • Surge protectors
  • Air purifiers and extra filtration
  • WiFi or other smart thermostats.

An older model system running with a discontinued refrigerant like Freon can be a good reason to replace your HVAC unit. If it costs more to repair than to replace cars or technical devices, it is time to replace the system.

What does an annual air conditioning service entail?

However often you get your air conditioning unit serviced, the experts will perform the same tasks to ensure your system has good service. 

These AC service tasks include:

  • Change the air filters.
  • Cleaning and observing the indoor and outdoor coils
  • Check the condensate pump.
  • Ensure the thermostat works properly.
  • Remove any dirt and waste from the condensate pump.
  • Visually inspect the entire HVAC system.
  • Clean away any dust, dirt, and debris from the HVAC system.

Should I get an HVAC service plan?

An HVAC service contract makes it more likely to get seasonal and annual checks and services. Air conditioning and heating maintenance plans can keep you adequately cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

Prevention is the best remedy for HVAC systems. Getting professional eyes on your system can help find a small problem before it turns expensive. Regular cleaning and filter changes can also ensure a healthier environment.

The benefits of HVAC maintenance include:

  • Better energy efficiency
  • Detect minor issues before they grow.
  • To avoid causing system damage,
  • Change dirty filters.

Does your AC need serviced every year?

  1. Certainly not. There are a lot of professional technicians and agencies who will make you think that an AC needs regular service, just like your car or bike. Even when I bought my last laptop and washing machine, some agency tried to sell me an AMC.

Some technicians try to fiddle with the refrigerant gas valves and joints during service, leading to leakage. If your air conditioner is not properly cooling, then it is time to call a professional technician.

A regular home AC needs frequent cleaning. You can do it yourself. No heavy service is required.

How to do it:

Switch off the unit and disengage the power cable for split AC units. Ascension on a chair or something similar. Open the flap of the indoor unit. There would be two replaceable plastic filters. Take them out. Clean them properly by placing them under running water. Dry them and reinstall them in the indoor unit. Close the flap. That is it. You can also clean the outdoor unit. Just point a running water hosepipe to the mesh-like structure at the back of the outdoor unit. Wait until the water drains down and becomes transparent. You are done with your cleaning.

Switch off the unit and disengage the power cable for window AC units. The plastic filter lives inside the front flap. Open it, clean it properly, and reattach it. You can also clean the back of the AC by pointing a running water hosepipe at the mesh-like structure at the back. Wait until the water drains down and becomes transparent. You are done with your cleaning.

Winterize your air conditioner

Air conditioners are costly, and you want them to be as efficient as possible. If you ignore your AC unit all winter, you might need to perform expensive maintenance – or worse, replace your entire unit – when the next summer season rolls around. Follow these steps before the weather gets too cold to protect your AC unit.

  1. Please turn off the power: The first thing you need to do with your AC unit is shut it down. Turn off the breaker or switch to shut down your unit. The switch is located inside of a metal or plastic lid. Turn the switch to the off position. This prevents the AC unit from turning on on a warm winter day, keeping water out of the unit where it could freeze overnight and damage your HVAC unit.
  2. Clean your unit: Dirt and dust accumulate around your unit’s filters during the summer. Clean off all the debris with a clean, wet cloth. Fix up any sticks and leaves that you find near the AC unit, as they tend to encourage small animals to hole up in units over the winter. We are sure insects, birds, or small animals pecking up your wires during the off-season is the last thing you want.

Let your AC unit get adequately dried before moving to the next step of the winterizing process.

  1. Cover it adequately: Cover the HVAC unit with a completely waterproof (plastic or vinyl) cover. Before you wrap your AC unit, ensure that it is properly dry. You can also use a tarp to cover your HVAC unit. Just be sure that the tarp is big enough to cover the entire unit. Secure the cover with bungee cords or vinyl rope to stand against strong winds.
  2. Insulate the pipes—only covering the AC unit is not enough. You need to protect the pipelines of your AC unit too. If you do not cover the channels adequately, they can freeze and burst in low temperatures. Make sure that you do not skip this process. To protect the AC unit pipelines, cover them adequately with foam pipe covers. The next thing to remember is that the foam cover should fit comfortably around the pipe. You can use duct tape to keep the foam cover in the desired place. It is safe to keep the foam covers around your pipelines year-round. In this way, you will not have to repeat this process every year.
  3. Keep an eye on the unit throughout the winter. Covering the pipelines and the entire AC unit does not mean that your job is done thoroughly. You will still need to keep an eye on your AC unit in the winter. Inspect your air conditioner every couple of weeks and every time you experience dangerous weather.

Brush off any snow, ice, water, or debris that may have gathered on top of the cover. Try to keep all animals away from the unit area. If you find that your body has moved from its previous place, adjust it properly so that it continues to protect your air conditioner.