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10 Maintenance Tips to Prepare Your Air Conditioning Unit for Fall
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10 Maintenance Tips to Prepare Your Air Conditioning Unit for Fall

10 Maintenance Tips to Prepare Your Air Conditioning Unit for Fall

Toy house wrapped in a warm scarf with an autumn leaf.

After enduring the blistering heat of summer, you're likely looking forward to the crisp fall weather. But just because autumn is around the corner doesn't mean you should shut off your AC unit yet, since temperatures can still climb high enough during the day to warrant air conditioning. Our HVAC experts here at Fred's Home Services in Cleveland, Ohio have some tips to share that will help you keep your home comfortable and prep your air conditioning system as the seasons change.

1. change your thermostat settings

Autumn in Cleveland often involves some unpredictable temperature spikes, so you may need to keep your air conditioner on for a few more weeks. In the meantime, turn up your thermostat temperature to reduce your energy consumption. Every degree above 72° will save up to 3% of your cooling expenses.

If you don't already have one, we highly recommend installing a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature according to your specifications. You can program it to increase the temperature when your home is unoccupied during certain days and times so you don't waste precious energy cooling an empty house. Contrary to popular belief, turning off your cooling system entirely actually forces your AC unit to work much harder when you turn it back on. Doing so on a regular basis will actually wear out your air conditioner more quickly.

2. clean or replace your air conditioner unit's air filter

We recommend cleaning and/or replacing your AC's air filter once a month. This is especially important during a change of season. Keeping up this good routine will improve the air quality in your home by reducing airborne allergens and pathogens and can lower your energy bill by up to 15%.

3. Clean Your air conditioner unit's evaporator coil and condenser coil

Your air conditioner's coils collect dust, dirt, grass clippings, and weeds over the summer. This buildup reduces airflow and can cause your AC unit to absorb heat, making it less efficient at cooling your home. You can use a hose to spray off the debris around the exterior of the evaporator and condenser coils.

4. clean out any debris around your condenser unit

Equally as important as cleaning your AC unit's coils is clearing the area around the outside of the entire unit itself. Autumn winds and storms will blow leaves, branches, and other debris around your unit, which can restrict airflow and cause breakdown or early failure. Use a rake to gather any piled up debris and trim overgrown grass or weeds near the unit.

5. install new insulation around your ac unit's pipes

If your unit's existing insulation has disintegrated beyond repair, then it's time to replace it. Use foam pipe covers with duct tape to keep them in place, especially around the pipes that connect to your home. Doing so will prevent condensation from forming on the lines and stop the pipes from freezing and cracking.

To install new insulation on your air conditioner's pipes, peel off the old insulation and measure the diameter and length of the tubes. Contact a refrigeration supply company for a new foam pipe covers, as these are typically not sold at home improvement stores. Slip the new foam over the tubing, remove the adhesive liner, align the edges, and gradually press the seam together.

6. cover your air conditioner unit during the fall

After you've cleaned the interior coils, cleared the exterior of your AC unit of debris, and added or replaced insulation, place a waterproof cover over your air conditioner. It's important that you only cover the top of your air conditioner, however. Leave the sides uncovered to prevent moisture buildup. Secure the cover using bungee cords or other means so that it doesn't blow away in the blustery fall weather.

7. shut off power to your ac system

Simply changing your thermostat to "heat" doesn't actually turn off the air conditioner. You'll need to do that manually. The outside circuit to the condenser is usually located under a flip lid. Open the lid and switch to the "off" position. Shutting off the power to your AC system prevents any potential damage to your condenser if someone accidentally switches the thermostat setting to "cool" during the fall and winter. Just remember to turn your air conditioner back on 24 hours before use in the spring.

8. reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to circulate warm air

Ceiling fans don't just keep you cool in the summer; they can also keep you warm during fall and winter and help you save up to 10% on your heating costs. Reversing the direction of your fan's motor to turn clockwise at low speed produces an updraft that forces warmer air near the ceiling down into occupied space while simultaneously drawing colder air upward. Most ceiling fans have a small switch that lets you change the direction that the fan blades spin. Keeping warm air closer to your thermostat enables you to set it to a lower temperature without sacrificing precious heat.

9. run your heat at an energy-efficient temperature

Once the colder temperatures set in, it's time to turn on your heater. When you first fire it up, you'll likely notice a burning smell. Don't panic; that's normal, as dust has settled on the heating components while the heater was not in use during the summer. The unpleasant odor should quickly subside.

The most energy-saving temperature at which to set your heater during the day in fall and winter is 68°F. The closer your thermostat is to the outdoor temperature, the lighter the load on your heating system. This, in turn, translates into lower energy bills. Rather than blasting your heat to keep warm, wear layers, snuggle under a blanket, or enjoy a steaming hot drink mug of tea or hot chocolate in your favorite seasonal flavors.

According to sleep psychologists at the Cleveland Clinic and other reputable healthcare institutes, 62-67°F is the ideal temperature range for enjoying quality sleep. That may sound chilly, but a warmer environment negatively impacts your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (the stage in which you dream) and can cause restlessness or waking up in the middle of the night. So it's recommended to lower your thermostat to around 65°F when you and your family are sleeping. Not only will you get a better night's rest, you'll save a significant amount on energy costs!

10. Schedule an hvac maintenance checkup with fred's home services in cleveland, ohio

Our Cleveland heating and air conditioning services include three annual preventive maintenance plans that offer a 10-20% discount on all repairs to your HVAC system. These maintenance services include some of the tasks mentioned above, such as replacing air filters and cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils. We're also currently offering coupons for hundreds of dollars off a new air conditioner and furnace installation and a complete HVAC system installation. Call FHS today at (216) 481-4200 to schedule your heating and cooling checkup in preparation for the upcoming fall and winter.