Now that we’ve (hopefully) seen the last snow flurry for the season, it’s time to do some spring cleaning on your HVAC unit to keep it running smoothly for the sweltering summer days. With our spring maintenance tips, you’re just a few steps away from clearer air, lower energy bills, and a longer unit life.

Change the air filters

Thankfully, one of the easiest tasks can have immense impact on your unit’s longevity. Clogged filters struggle to properly capture dust, allergens, and other airborne particles. Over time, the restricted airflow can also foster mold growth.

Ultimately, dirty filters waste energy, so a simple cleaning can keep your system on track. Disposable filters should be replaced monthly while washable filters should be cleaned monthly. An additional option would be upgrading to a pleated filter, which uses an electrostatic charge to attract dust and bacteria, securely trapping toxins.

Check insulation for cracks and leaks

Many homes suffer unknown leaks in the aftermath of a winter storm. With harsh winds pelting debris against your windows, doors, and other openings, it’s no wonder you would have cracks and loose seals. When spring rolls around, this air leakage means your unit must work harder to cool your home, driving up your utility bills and wearing out your system.

As a first step to prevent air loss, inspect all pipe insulation for any air leaks. Any damaged insulation should be replaced immediately. Proper sealing ensures regularity in the home, saving on utility costs and not overloading your unit.

You’ll want to take this time to examine the condensate line as well. This line runs from the condenser coils inside your home to the outside, preventing moisture buildup in your house as well as your HVAC system. A faulty condensate line can ultimately ruin your system by leading to mold and mildew that prevents water from draining out. This blockage can also lead to water backing into the house, resulting in stained ceilings and floor damage.

Common remedies include pouring a cup of bleach into the drain line’s access hole in the early spring (to kill the mold and mildew) or using a wet/dry vacuum to try to pull the clog out. However, if you are unable to remove the clog using these quick methods, likely because the problem has persisted for a while, then you will need to enlist a technician.

Evaluate your thermostat

As temperatures heat up, you want to make sure your thermostat is functioning properly, so you don’t needlessly drive up your electric bill. A malfunctioning thermostat can also be a sign that your unit is nearing a breakdown.

In preparation for the summer months, this is also a good time to install a programmable thermostat. According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7° to 10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. The unit can be adjusted to your lifestyle, optimizing temperatures throughout the day and week, which ultimately puts less strain on your system and saves you money throughout the year.

Test your air conditioner for troubles

Rather than waiting for a heat wave to strike, turn on your A/C unit that’s been hibernating all winter. Let your system run for a bit and see if you notice any issues. If so, this is the perfect time to schedule a repair rather than waiting until it’s an emergency. Since summer is the busiest time for contractors, you don’t want to be in line waiting for a new installation while burning up in your home.

Start the testing process by switching your HVAC system from heat to cool, adjust your thermostat a few degrees down, and let it run one complete cycle. Make sure the vents are open and clear in every room before you start your test.

Now it’s time to listen. Some telltale signs of a system malfunction or blockage include knocking or banging sounds, your unit stopping mid-cycle, or any unusual odor emanating from the system (you might also notice some discharge on the unit as well).

Clear debris around the outdoor unit

It’s common for residual debris to build up around your unit during winter. However, obstructions like leaves, branches, and even bushes and other vegetation make it more difficult for your unit to pull in the air it needs to cool your home. Grab your rake or pruners and remove anything within two feet of your unit to maximize efficiency.

As you search for any blockages, we recommend checking your A/C’s drainage hole too. This is the small hole on the back of your unit. If the drainage hole becomes clogged, then this will put more stress on your unit, and you will likely notice some water leaking as well.

Schedule pre-spring maintenance cleaning

While many of these tips can be completed on your own, you should still have a professional check for details both for their experience and your safety. A qualified technician will be able to examine the wiring, refrigerant levels, buildup around the condenser, and any interior unit damage.

Throughout the tune-up, the technician will calibrate, clean, and lubricate the system while also repairing or replacing any worn-out parts. Lastly, they will advise you on how to prevent future issues and offer you the most cost-effective option of whether to repair or replace your system.

Letting a professional inspect your unit also protects its warranty, which is tied to seasonal maintenance. It’s recommended to have an HVAC inspection and cleaning at least twice per year, in the spring and fall.

To maximize results from routine maintenance, you might also want your technician to conduct an air duct test to see if duct cleaning is in order. Clogged ducts are not only a fire hazard, but the toxins can aggravate symptoms for allergy sufferers. Scheduling a cleaning every 5 to 7 years enables your system to circulate air efficiently throughout your home without undue energy use. This process will remove everything from dust to debris to dander and pollen.

Embrace the warm weather

It’s time to let your furnace take a vacation. With a little preventative maintenance, you can breathe easier while avoiding an expensive repair bill. To get a deeper look into how your unit is performing, reach out to us for a spring tune-up—then you won’t have to sweat any issues this summer.