Be sure that your air conditioner is turned off before completing any of these maintenance steps. Remember to allow the unit to dry entirely before powering on the unit again.
You can power off an air conditioner by turning your household thermostat off and by turning off the circuit breaker or removing the household fuses for the air conditioner.
1. Clean/replace the air filter in your furnace or air handler.
The air filter has the important job of ensuring air flow. A dirty air filter restricts air flow and causes the unit to unnecessarily work harder and waste energy. It may also eventually lead to unit failure.
2. Inspect the unit for nests.
Mice, birds, insects, and other wildlife may have made a home inside of the unit, even if it was covered all winter.
Additionally, pet urine can be extremely damaging to a unit. Consider installing a small wooden garden fence around the perimeter of the unit, allowing for a two-foot clearance. This will deter pets from marking their territory there.
3. Clear debris from inside of the condensing unit.
It’s extremely important to keep condenser coils free from debris so that the heat can properly leave the unit.
From the inside of the condensing unit, use a garden hose with a steady stream to push out leaves, grass clippings, twigs, pollen, and other debris that are stuck between the coils. With care, you can also use a refrigerator condenser coil brush to gently remove the debris from the coils.
4. Clear debris from outside of the condensing unit.
Trim or clear shrubs and tree branches so that there is at least two feet of clear space around the unit. This space will ensure that there is enough air flow and that there’s enough space for the condenser fan to operate properly.
5. Check the ductwork.
Take a cruise around your home and inspect the registers. Make sure that there is nothing obstructing air flow. You may be surprised to find a rug or piece of furniture blocking some or all of the air flow.
Open the registers and check for any fallen objects, especially if you have small children. Children are known to drop small toys into floor registers. If you suspect a mold problem within your ducts, consider hiring a company that specializes in cleaning ventilation systems.
You might also consider checking the ductwork in your attic or basement. The connections and seams should be sealed tightly so that no cold air escapes and the ductwork should all be well insulated.
After you’ve completed those steps, power the system on at the circuit breaker and thermostat and complete the following:
6. Test system controls.
Run the starting cycle to ensure its safe operation and that it powers off properly.
7. Check your thermostat.
Make sure that your thermostat is set to the appropriate temperature for your family’s needs.
8. Consider installing a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat reduces energy waste by ensuring that your home is cooled to a set temperature when you’re home and when you are away.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a programmable thermostat can save you about 180 dollars in energy costs every year.
9. Maintain proper humidity levels.
Using a humidifier in the winter months and a dehumidifier in the summer months will have an important role in keeping the moisture levels where they need to be in your home. High humidity levels foster the perfect conditions for mold growth, so humidity regulation is critical to air quality. A hygrometer makes it easy to monitor humidity levels so you can make adjustments as needed.
10. Clean floors frequently.
Much of the dust and dirt at home is delivered by foot and quickly enters the air you breathe.
- Keep mats at every entrance to limit the spread of dust and dirt.
- Run a vacuum cleaner on rugs and carpets a few times per week, or more frequently if you have shedding pets or live in a dusty region. Look for vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters to remove more dust and dirt than standard filters.
- Sweep hard floors a few times weekly and mop at least once weekly.
Robotic vacuum cleaners are a wise option for routine floor cleaning between regular cleanings with a canister or upright vacuum cleaner. Robotic vacuum cleaners can be programmed to run daily throughout homes and make it easier to clean hard-to-reach locations. They work well on hard surfaces and standard rugs and carpeting. Have thick and/or shaggy carpeting? Unfortunately, robotic vacuums can’t take on such terrain.
Of course, no air quality-tips post would be complete without these additional safety warnings:
- Keep at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home. If your model is battery-powered, be sure to change the batteries when you change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
- Pay attention to changes in the performance of your furnace or air handler. New, unexplained noises and other issues can indicate larger, looming trouble. Troubleshoot and repair as needed to avoid more expensive repairs later.