Is the air conditioner in your Chicago area home ready for summer? Spring is the perfect time to examine your central A/C unit to ensure it is clean and has not incurred any visible damage after being idle all winter. The following are summer air conditioner maintenance tips that homeowners can perform to stay cool during seasonal heat waves.

1. Air Filter Maintenance

One of the easiest air conditioner maintenance tips a homeowner can perform involves regularly changing the central A/C air filter. Althoff air conditioning technicians recommend changing filters once every 60 days. If there are pets in the home or an excess of dust, homeowners may want to change the A/C filter every 30 days. A clogged or excessively dirty air filter can restrict the flow of air to a unit, causing it to work harder.

2. Remove Overgrowth from Around Exterior Condenser

The condenser on the outside of a home needs to be free and clear of obstructions in order to operate efficiently. All plants, trees, flowers and shrubbery should be planted and cut back to between two and three feet in order to ensure that a condenser gets maximum air flow.

3. Hose Off Exterior Condenser

If there is visible dirt, debris, dust, pollen or leaves on your condensing unit, hose off the unit to clean and clear the fins. Before spraying the unit with water, completely turn off the power to the central A/C unit.

4. Don’t Close Central Air Conditioner Vents

Central air conditioners are designed to operate as one cohesive unit and this includes the vents and ducts inside a home. Completely closing an air conditioning vent can result in the A/C unit freezing. For efficient A/C operation, a homeowner should check that vents in the home are not blocked. In unused rooms, partially closed vents are sufficient to keep air flow operating effectively.

5. Pay Attention to the Sun and Outdoor Temperatures

During the hottest part of a summer day, keep your house cool by closing blinds and curtains. This prevents your air conditioner from working harder than normal to cool the home.

6. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

Most programmable thermostats allow homeowners to set temperatures according to the time and also whether it’s a weekend or weekday. For optimal temperature control, homeowners should set the coolest temperatures for the times when they are home and awake. Set your thermostat to a warmer indoor temperature during times when you anticipate being out of the house to save money on cooling bills.

7. Evaluate Your Doors, Windows and Ductwork

Drafts around closed exterior doors and windows are a sign that warm air is getting in and cool air being let out! Save money on you’re HVAC utility bills by having drafts professionally sealed. If certain ducts are blowing warmer than normal air or air flow is occurring through the duct when the A/C unit is not running, call a professional HVAC technician to evaluate your ductwork and seal any cracks and holes.

8. Preventive Maintenance

Scheduling preventive maintenance for your central A/C unit ensures homeowners will have a reliable and efficient A/C to keep them cool during summer’s hottest spells. During an A/C maintenance inspection, a professional HVAC technician will examine all critical components of the central air conditioning unit, thoroughly clean the coils inside the unit, check refrigerant levels and recommend any needed repairs.