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How to Get Your Air Conditioner Ready for Summer

For those of us residing in Ohio and Indiana, we understand firsthand the brutal heat and humidity that accompany the summer months. That’s why, as summer approaches, it’s vital to make sure your home’s air conditioner is ready to beat the heat and keep you and your family as cool and comfortable as possible.

But don’t worry! We’re here to help ensure that your air conditioning unit will operate at its best for the summer season ahead. We’ll guide you through important steps such as thorough inspections, proper cleaning, and valuable maintenance practices. We’ll even give you tips on how to test your system’s performance.

Don’t let the first heatwave catch you off guard with an ill-prepared system. Taking the proactive steps now to service your AC may prevent frustrating breakdowns and provide reassurance all summer. It can also help extend the lifespan of your air conditioning unit.

Air conditioning is absolutely vital for getting through a Midwestern summer in comfort! That’s why we’ve put together these tips – to help homeowners like yourself get the most out of your cooling system. With some simple preparation work, you can keep cool and comfortable indoors no matter how scorching it gets outside.

AC Maintenance

Understanding the Importance of Pre-Summer AC Maintenance

Oftentimes, we only pay attention to our ACs when they’re malfunctioning and failing to keep us cool. But it’s important to understand that regular air conditioner maintenance provides lots of benefits that make it well worth the time and money you invest.

First, routine upkeep helps ensure your system operates at peak efficiency, which means that you get to pay lower energy bills every month. Although the savings may seem a bit insignificant at first, remember that it really adds up over the months and years! Proper maintenance also increases the overall lifespan of your AC unit. With the right care, you can keep that invaluable cooling system running for many summers to come.

Perhaps most importantly, pre-summer tune-ups help prevent untimely breakdowns and costly repairs. There’s nothing worse than your air conditioner failing during a heatwave, leaving you to swelter as you wait for service. The last thing any homeowner wants is an unexpectedly large bill because minor issues went unaddressed. Just a little maintenance goes a long way towards keeping your wallet as cool as your home’s interior.

Here in Ohio and Indiana, our hot, humid summers create additional strain on air conditioning systems. From consistently muggy conditions to severe summer storms, our climate presents some unique challenges. This makes pre-season AC care even more important! Making sure your unit is clean, charged properly, and featuring tight seals can optimize efficiency despite the intense summer weather. Don’t let the brutal heat catch your underprepared air conditioner off guard.

We can’t control nature, but we can control how well we prepare our homes for the summer onslaught. Taking the time now to get your air conditioning system tuned up provides invaluable peace of mind and preventative protection for the months ahead. A little routine maintenance lets you and your family stay cool, comfortable, and worry-free all season long.

Inspecting and Cleaning the Air Conditioner

Like any hardworking appliance, your air conditioning system requires some routine maintenance to keep operating at its best. One of the most important pre-summer steps is thoroughly inspecting and cleaning the unit’s components. 

Over the winter months, dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate and impair your AC’s performance once the heat returns. Taking the time now to clean things out provides a fresh start.

Safety First: Power Off

Before we get started on any inspections or cleaning, we need to make sure the air conditioner is completely powered off and disconnected from its energy source. 

For central air systems, locate the electrical disconnect box mounted near the exterior unit and flip that power switch to the “off” position. You may also want to shut off the corresponding circuit breaker in your home’s electrical panel just to be extra safe. For window units, simply unplug the AC from the outlet. 

We don’t want any unexpected startups while we have our hands inside!

Cleaning or Replacing the Air Filter

One of the most important ways to keep your AC running efficiently is by ensuring the air filter is clean. A dirty, clogged filter forces the system to work harder, wasting energy and money. It can even cause the unit to overheat and fail prematurely if air cannot flow freely. For best results, check your filter monthly.

Replacing the filter is refreshingly easy – simply slide out the old one and install the new one. Most systems use a standard 1″ or 2″ thick fiberglass filter, but double-check your owner’s manual for the exact size. 

Units in Ohio and Indiana homes may benefit from higher-efficiency pleated filters that better trap dust and allergens from our humid air.

Cleaning the Exterior Unit

The outdoor condenser unit is a hardworking warrior, constantly battling our summer heat to keep your home cool. Unsurprisingly, it can get gunked up quickly with dirt, grass clippings, leaves, and other debris over time. Built-up grime acts as insulation, forcing the unit to work harder and waste energy.

Giving this outdoor unit an annual cleaning is a must. Using a soft brush and a garden hose, gently clean off any visible debris from the unit’s fins and exterior housing. For stubborn gunk, try a simple DIY coil cleaner – mix a small amount of dish soap into some water and use a soft brush to lather and scrub. Just avoid anything too abrasive that could bend those delicate aluminum fins.

Checking the Indoor Unit

Don’t forget about your air conditioner’s indoor components too! The evaporator coils require periodic cleaning to keep air flowing efficiently. Using your owner’s manual for guidance, unmount any panels to access the coils, then use a soft brush and coil cleaner solution to carefully remove built-up dust and debris without damaging the fins. While you have the cover off, also check the condensate drain line and pan for any obstructions or debris that could cause clogs and messy overflows.

With the unit thoroughly cleaned from the inside out, your AC should now breathe easier and operate at peak efficiency. But we’re not quite done yet with prepping it for summer! Stay tuned for the remaining crucial steps.

Checking the Thermostat

Ensuring your thermostat works properly is an often overlooked yet crucial part of prepping your air conditioner for summer. This small but mighty device is the brain that tells your entire cooling system when to power on and off. An inaccurate or failing thermostat can prevent your AC from running efficiently.

Importance of a Properly Functioning Thermostat

Your thermostat is responsible for sensing your home’s temperature and signaling the air conditioner to turn on once it rises above your desired setting. If the thermostat misreads the temperature, it can cause the system to run too much or not enough. This leads to improperly cooled spaces and wasted energy. A thermostat on the fritz may also struggle switching between heating and cooling modes or fail to turn on the system at all.

How to Test and Calibrate Your Thermostat

Checking thermostat operation is easy. Simply raise or lower the temperature setting and ensure the air conditioner turns on or off as expected after a brief delay. You can also hold an accurate thermometer next to the thermostat to see if its temperature reading matches. Many models allow you to calibrate or adjust for any variance.

Recommended Thermostat Settings for Ohio and Indiana Summers

To maximize energy savings during our hot, humid summers, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your Ohio or Indiana home’s thermostat to 78°F when occupied. When away for more than a few hours, increasing the setting to 85°F helps reduce cooling costs without letting interior temperatures get too uncomfortable. At night, a setting around 82°F tends to balance sleeping comfort with efficiency.

Don’t let an unnoticed thermostat issue undermine all your other AC prep efforts. Taking a few minutes to check and adjust this humble device ensures your system runs optimally all summer long.

Inspecting Ductwork and Vents

Often overlooked, your home’s ductwork and vents play a vital role in your air conditioning system’s performance. Unseen issues in this air distribution network can allow cooled air to escape or become obstructed, reducing efficiency.

Importance of Sealed and Clean Ducts for Efficiency

According to, a whopping 20-30% of conditioned air can be lost through leaks and poor sealing in the average home’s ductwork. All that cooled air you’re paying for never makes it to the intended living spaces. Dust and debris accumulating in the ducts can also clog things up, restricting airflow and making your AC work harder.

How to Check for Leaks and Proper Insulation

While a professional inspection uses specialized tools, you can do a visual check for any obvious duct leaks or disconnections, as well as ensure all ductwork is properly insulated. Gently hand-feel along accessible duct runs, feeling for cooled air escaping or lack of insulation. You can also inspect joints and seams for gaps or cracks.

Tips on Cleaning Vents and Ensuring Unobstructed Airflow

Keeping air vents and returns clear of obstructions like furniture allows for proper airflow. Use a vacuum crevice tool to remove any dust buildup on the vent covers. For floor vents, use a vent brush to dislodge collected debris. Check that each vent opens and closes fully, and consider briefly putting your hand up to operating vents to ensure air is flowing as it should.

When to Consider Professional Duct Cleaning

If your vents and returns emit noticeable dust when the AC runs or you can see significant particle buildup inside ductwork, it may be time to have the full system professionally cleaned. The same applies if you’ve had recent renovations that could have introduced construction debris into the ducts. Most experts recommend duct cleaning every 3-5 years for optimal indoor air quality.

Don’t let constricted or leaky ductwork turn your air conditioner into an inefficient energy waster! Taking time to inspect and clear this distribution network ensures all that cooled air makes it to its intended destination.

Checking Refrigerant Levels

Every air conditioning system relies on a precisely charged amount of refrigerant to effectively remove heat and humidity from your home’s air. Making sure refrigerant levels are correct is an essential part of summer prep.

Importance of Proper Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is the lifeblood that allows your AC to do its cooling magic. When levels are too low, the whole heat transfer process becomes inefficient at best, and at worst, the unit can overheat and fail completely. Too much refrigerant overloads the system as well. Only exact manufacturer-specified amounts provide peak performance and efficiency.

Signs of Low Refrigerant

If your air conditioner seems to be running excessively yet failing to cool adequately, low refrigerant could be to blame. You may notice warm air blowing from vents or coils freezing over. An HVAC professional can check refrigerant levels, but frosted lines or a low hissing noise can indicate a leak.

Why and How to Hire a Professional for Refrigerant Issues

Refrigerant is not something homeowners can just purchase and safely top off themselves. These compounds pose health and environmental hazards requiring certified technician handling. A professional can pinpoint the source of any leaks, seal them properly, and recharge the refrigerant to factory specifications using specialized equipment.

Local Regulations and Environmental Considerations in Ohio and Indiana

Both Ohio and Indiana adhere to EPA regulations regarding the use and disposal of refrigerants. Venting refrigerants is illegal due to their ozone-depleting and greenhouse gas effects. When servicing systems, HVAC technicians must take precautions to recover and recycle refrigerants through approved channels. Choosing a reputable local provider ensures your refrigerant issue is resolved responsibly.

Don’t let insufficient refrigerant levels turn your air conditioner into a power-hungry loser of a unit this summer. If you suspect anything amiss, reach out to a qualified pro to handle this delicate part of AC maintenance properly.

Testing the System’s Performance

With all the prep work done, it’s time to fire up your air conditioner and make sure it’s operating properly before the serious summer heat arrives. A basic system performance test lets you identify any lingering issues before they turn into bigger headaches later.

How to Run a System Performance Test

Testing your AC’s performance is straightforward. First, make sure your thermostat is set a few degrees below the current indoor temperature to ensure the system kicks on. Give it 15-30 minutes of run time, then do a walkthrough of your home, feeling for cooled airflow from each vent and register. The air should feel noticeably chilled compared to the starting temperature. Pop into rooms periodically and keep monitoring until temperatures level off.

Identifying Signs of Inefficiency or Issues

If certain rooms or areas never seem to cool properly, or the temperatures don’t drop and stabilize as they should, you likely have an efficiency issue. The same applies if you notice any unusual noises like clanking, squealing, or rattling. Lukewarm airflow, moisture or leakage around the indoor unit, or spiking energy bills despite normal usage are also red flags.

An underperforming AC could stem from a clogged air filter, kinked or leaking ductwork, or thermostat issues like dead batteries or improper calibration.

When to Call a Professional

If your system issues persist even after all your summer preparations, or you notice more serious problems like frozen coils, little to no cooling despite long run times, or your AC suddenly cuts off before reaching desired temperatures, it’s wise to call in an HVAC professional. Continuing operations with a major malfunction risks compounding the problem into an expensive repair down the line.

Don’t spend summer sweating over whether your air conditioner is truly up to the task. Run this simple performance test first to catch any lurking inefficiencies and decide if a professional tune-up is needed to get it back into prime condition.

Scheduling Professional Maintenance

Even with diligent DIY prep work, having an affordable professional HVAC tune-up before summer remains the wisest choice for ensuring your air conditioner operates at peak performance. A trained technician has the tools and expertise to thoroughly inspect and optimize every component.

Benefits of Professional Inspection and Tune-Up

While certainly an extra cost, an annual professional AC tune-up pays dividends in a number of ways. Technicians can identify developing issues before they turn into costly breakdowns and major repairs down the line. They ensure proper refrigerant charging, amperage draws on startup, thermostat calibration, and more – efficiency factors most homeowners can’t evaluate themselves. This precise optimization translates directly into lower monthly energy bills.

What to Expect During a Professional Maintenance Visit

Most comprehensive tune-ups follow a thorough checklist of inspections and services like cleaning coils, checking all electrical connections, lubricating motors and bearings, testing operating pressures, tightening fittings, and adjusting blower components. The technician also has equipment to measure airflow, identify duct leaks, and detect refrigerant leaks. Any developing issues get flagged for repair before they turn severe.

Average Costs and Potential Savings from Professional Maintenance

According to, the average homeowner spends between $150-300 on an annual AC tune-up. While not cheap, every $1 invested in preventative maintenance saves $5-10 in future repairs and added efficiency. HVAC companies also frequently offer package discounts and payment plans for pre-scheduled yearly visits. With lower risks of breakdowns and an average of 10-25% savings on cooling bills, tune-ups quickly pay for themselves.

Don’t gamble another sweltering summer on whether your air conditioner can go the distance. Schedule an affordable professional tune-up for the peace of mind that your cooling system is primed, optimized and ready to keep your home chilled all season long.

The Summer Heat Is Coming – Don’t Get Caught with a Broken AC

As the mercury rises and those summer scorchers approach, you’ll want the relief of a properly functioning air conditioning system you can rely on. By being proactive with inspections, cleaning, maintenance, and professional tune-ups, you ensure your AC runs at peak efficiency all season long.

Don’t let Indiana and Ohio’s brutal summer catch you sweating over an underprepared cooling system. With this comprehensive guide, you now have all the tips and know-how to tackle those vital pre-summer preparations yourself. However, entrusting reliable local professionals for an annual tune-up is an investment that pays off through increased efficiency, extended equipment lifespan, and peace of mind.

Whether you take the hands-on approach or bring in the experts, getting your AC properly prepared delivers invaluable comfort during the sweltering months ahead. It also prevents spending money on disruptive repair costs due to issues that could have been caught earlier.

Take action today to ensure you can simply relax and enjoy cool air all summer long. If you need professional help, pick up the phone and call Bassett Services at (317) 360-0054.

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