Summer will be here before you know it, so it’s the perfect time to make sure your AC is ready to handle the heat. By preparing your AC for summer now, you’ll save on energy costs, prevent unexpected breakdowns, and stay cool and comfortable all summer long.
To prepare your AC for the summer heat, make sure you:
First, let’s look at three of the most common reasons your AC breaks down in summer. Then, we’ll dive into the details of how you can avoid those issues and prepare for the summer heat.
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Top Reasons Why ACs Tend to Break Down During the Summer
Phoenix summers get HOT. Not surprisingly, most people try to stay cool by running their air conditioners constantly. Unfortunately, that also increases the likelihood of AC breakdowns.
Some of the most common reasons your air conditioner might break down during the summer months are:
- It’s not ready for the heat. Suppose you neglect preventative maintenance tasks like changing the air filter regularly, cleaning around the outside unit, and scheduling annual tune-ups. In that case, you’re much more likely to have AC problems this summer.
- It overheats. If an AC works too hard, it can overheat and trip the circuit breaker. The circuit breaker’s job is to protect your home and appliances by shutting off the flow of electricity when the current flow gets too high. But if your AC keeps tripping the breaker, something needs to be fixed. Otherwise, your air conditioner may break down from constantly overheating, and your electrical panel might suffer damage.
- It’s old. When your AC reaches 10 to 15 years old, the chances of it breaking down are much higher.
Now that you know what causes most summertime AC breakdowns, you can take action to avoid those issues with the following tips.
Replace Dirty and Clogged Air Filters Regularly
An air filter clogged with a thick layer of dirt and dust will block the airflow into your AC, forcing it to work harder to cool your home. If your AC isn’t pulling in a sufficient amount of air, it can cause problems like:
- Higher energy bills: Your AC will have to work longer to cool your home, which results in more energy usage.
- A frozen indoor unit: When warm air doesn’t blow over the evaporator coil, it can get very cold and freeze, causing your AC to stop working or leak water when the ice melts.
- An uncomfortable home: Clogged filters mean less energy-efficient ACs, and they won’t be able to cool your home as effectively, leaving you feeling uncomfortable in the summer heat.
To prevent these issues, we recommend checking your air filter once a month during the summer and replacing it if it’s dirty.
Schedule Professional Maintenance
The best way to prepare your AC for summer is to schedule an annual maintenance visit with a reliable HVAC contractor.
During a maintenance visit (also called a tune-up or check-up), the technician will inspect the important components of your AC system to make sure they are working properly. In addition, the technician will clean and lubricate parts so that they operate efficiently.
With regular professional AC maintenance, you’ll get benefits like:
- Lower monthly energy bills
- More even, comfortable indoor temperatures
- Reduced chance of a breakdown mid-summer
When you hire a contractor to maintain your AC, ask them which parts they will inspect and clean. The more parts the technician maintains, the better.
During a typical AC tune-up, the technician should at least do the following things:
- Check the thermostat’s operation
- Check the defrost components and test them
- Clean the filter or replace it (you will need to supply the new filter)
- Inspect the contactors, relays, and circuit boards
- Inspect the disconnect
- Check the operating pressures
- Inspect the indoor blower and motor for dirt buildup
- Inspect the condensate drain
- Check the caps and start components
- Inspect the bearings and lubricate all moving parts
- Inspect the outdoor coil
- Inspect and test the safety switches
- Inspect the duct seal at the unit and secure the panels
- Inspect the indoor coil (only if it’s accessible and won’t disturb any seal on a cabinet)
- Check and document the superheat and subcooling in the refrigeration cycle
- Check the voltage and amperage of all motors and the compressor
- Inspect the wiring and tighten electrical connections
- Check and document the system temperature split
- Run and test the system
- Explain any necessary repairs
Make Sure the Outdoor Unit Is Clean
Think of your AC like a heat sponge: The indoor part of your AC absorbs heat from your home’s air, and the outdoor unit disperses that heat into the outdoor air. However, if the outdoor unit is blocked or dirty, the heat can’t be released as easily. Your system has to work extra hard and will eventually overheat. We recommend cleaning your outdoor unit before summer starts to avoid high energy bills and a potentially expensive repair.
- Remove any sticks, leaves, or large debris from the coils: Coils are the tiny fins surrounding the outdoor unit.
- Trim any shrubbery within 3 feet of the outdoor unit to ensure it has enough “breathing room” to disperse heat.
- If your coils are visibly dirty, wash the outdoor unit with a garden hose sprayer on its lowest setting. Be careful not to use a high setting, as this could potentially damage the coils.
Check Your Drain Line
While your AC is running, it collects moisture from inside your home and funnels it outside via the condensate drain line. But if leaves and other debris are clogging the drain, water can back up into your home and cause severe water damage.
Water damage can be costly and challenging to deal with, so the best way to prevent it is to check your drain line. If it’s clogged, use a wet/dry vacuum to suck all the debris out of the line. Sometimes, the clog in the drain may be more severe, and you’ll need to call a professional HVAC technician to help you. They will have the proper tools and know-how to clear your drain line effectively.
Seal Your Ducts
Your home’s ductwork carries conditioned air to all its various rooms. If your ducts have leaks, holes, or loose connections, you can lose up to 20% of that conditioned air! And when the summer heat hits, you’ll want to make sure your ductwork keeps all the cool air sealed inside your home, where it’s supposed to be.
When you seal your ducts, more air-conditioned air will reach its intended destination. You'll reduce hot and cold spots and have a more evenly-cooled home. It will also improve your AC system’s efficiency, saving you money on energy costs this summer.
We recommend hiring an HVAC contractor to seal your ducts before summer starts. That way, your home will be ready to take on the heat, and your AC will be as energy-efficient as possible.
The Pros at George Brazil Can Help You Avoid AC Breakdowns This Summer
George Brazil has kept Phoenix-area homes safe, comfortable, and energy-efficient since 1955. If you need a reliable HVAC contractor you can trust, our technicians are committed to providing the same superior customer service that we are known for. We give upfront pricing and back up our honest work with a Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Ethics. Call (602) 842-0009 to schedule your same-day service!