A great time to perform air conditioner maintenance is right before the warm season when you are doing your spring home maintenance checks. Follow these top air conditioner maintenance tips to help improve the efficiency of your air conditioner and enhance the comforts of your Alberta home.

Clean Air Conditioning Filters

One of the most important air conditioning maintenance tasks you can perform is cleaning your filters regularly. A clogged or dirty air conditioning filter can restrict airflow and cause damage to other parts of the system. Natural Resources Canada suggests that you clean your air conditioner filter at least once each season to properly cool your home and increase efficiency. In fact, according to Energy.gov, replacing a dirty filter can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5% to 15%.

Clean Evaporator and Condenser Coils

Evaporator coils from a central air conditioning system.

The air conditioner's evaporator and condenser coils can collect a significant amount of dirt over time. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, impairing the coil’s ability to function properly and cool your home. The blockage can also lead to compressor damage if left unattended. To minimize build-up, check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as needed.

Most hardware stores sell foaming sprays for air conditioner coils if you want to take on the task of cleaning them yourself. Just make sure you’ve powered down all components of your HVAC system before getting in there. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up the unit to clean the coils on your own, consider hiring a professional to perform the air conditioner maintenance for you.

Straighten Coil Fins

Air conditioner coil fins

Defective coil fins can also hinder your air conditioning system’s performance. The aluminum or copper fins on evaporator and condenser coils bend easily and can block airflow through the coil. To straighten these, you can purchase a professional air-conditioning tool called a “fin comb” that will bend the fins back into the right position.

Keep Condensate Drain Lines Clear

Check your air conditioner’s condensate drain lines to make sure they are not clogged. While your air conditioner is running, these lines collect and transport moisture from the air in your home to the outdoors. Blocked condensate drains may negatively impact your air conditioner’s performance, and increase humidity that can leave marks your walls and carpets. Some newer units have sensors to alert you when it’s time to clean out the condensate drains; older units may require a manual check.

As far as air conditioner maintenance goes, cleaning condensate drain lines can be fairly easy. Start by locating where the drainpipe exits your home; if applicable, it may be near your air conditioning unit outdoors. If the drainpipe does not exit your home outdoors, it may drain moisture into a bathroom sink inside your home.

If you have a wet-dry vacuum, hook it up to the condensate drainpipe and let it run for a few minutes. If your vacuum doesn’t fit on the end of the condensate line, check your local hardware store for a condensate connection piece. You can also use a drain snake or long drain brush to loosen and remove debris from your condensate line.

Fix Refrigerant Leaks

If you suspect your refrigerant is low or leaking, you should call a professional A/C technician to assess the damage, repair the leaks and recharge the system. According to Natural Resources Canada, leaking refrigerant can not only reduce the efficiency of your unit, but also emit a greenhouse gas that can damage the ozone layer.

Clean and Repair Ductwork

Air conditioner ductwork in a home

Insulating and sealing ducts to eliminate air leaks are crucial air conditioner maintenance steps. In fact, your home’s heating and cooling system may lose 20 to 30 percent of its air to leaks and holes in the ductwork. To ensure that all ducts are airtight, apply duct sealant with mastic specifically designed for repairing leaking air ducts. Consider hiring a technician if your ductwork has significant leaks or you do don’t feel comfortable sealing the ducts yourself.

Inspect Window Units

If you have a window air conditioning unit, inspect the seals to ensure cool air is not escaping. Look for areas with excessive moisture that can damage the window sealant. Double-check the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to make sure it’s securely connected. Replace the window sealant to repair any damage you find. Finally, check that the window unit thermostat is positioned correctly to ensure the sensor is reading properly.

Check Thermostat and Fan Controls

Check your thermostat’s batteries or replace the thermostat completely if it has extensive damage or incorrect readings. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to help cut your cooling costs during the year: by only cooling your home while you’re in it, you’ll use less energy.

Check for compressor and fan controls that may have worn out over the years. Call a technician to repair or replace the unit’s electrical connections to these controls.

Maintain the Area Around Your A/C Unit. 

During your spring cleaning process, clean up the dirt and debris around your air conditioning unit. Trim hedges and vines that may cause the unit component to overheat or rust. Remove brush and fallen branches and clear the area of any debris that can clog or dirty the unit.

Rinse off your air conditioner with your garden hose and clean off any dust or dirt on system components. Make sure the water is coming out at a low pressure so it doesn’t bend the coil fins.

Hire a Professional A/C Technician

When your air conditioner needs a more technical inspection, hire a qualified professional to service your system. A certified technician can detect extensive damage that you may not be aware of.

Make sure the professional inspection includes the following air conditioner maintenance items:

  1. Correct the refrigerant amount and test for leaks.
  2. Check duct leakage and seal the system.
  3. Measure the evaporator coil’s airflow.
  4. Inspect electric components and clean and tighten connectors.
  5. Check belts for tightness and wear.
  6. Check the accuracy of the thermostat.

Utilize Our Resources

As your Alberta energy company, we purchase gas and electricity on your behalf, and oversee the billing and customer service for those utilities[TB1] . From helping you understand electricity rates in Alberta to providing you with summer home safety tips, we aim to be a resource—and neighbour—you can rely on. Contact us anytime at 866.420.3174.