5 Tips for Starting Up Your AC After Winter
We all tend to play favorites in life. For example, my own personal all-time favorite thing to do after a long, hard day at work is to relax in my worn-in easy chair. But, if I’ve had a day or two to lounge around the house, my favorite thing in the world then becomes a nice walk outside in the fresh air around one of our beautiful Sacramento neighborhoods.
What I’m trying to say is that our favorite things often depend on our circumstances. Here in Northern California, we have a Mediterranean climate that brings us hot, dry summers but cold and wet winters. Our furnaces and heating systems end up being one of our favorite things in the winter, while our cooling air conditioners top our favorites list in the summer—at least that’s how it works at my house.
But, taking care of your air conditioner isn’t favoritism when it comes to our sweltering Sacramento summers; it’s just plain smart. By making some investments into preventative maintenance that can stop big problems from developing in the first place, your minimizing how much money you have to spend cooling your house down the line. Here are my top five tips for starting up your AC after winter.
Tip #1: Change Your Filter When Starting Up Your AC After Winter
I’m fond of saying that air filters are the Sacramento summer MVP. One of the best tips I can give you for starting up your AC after winter is to take that MVP status seriously! Firing up your central air system with a dirty filter installed is no way to get the hot season off to a fresh start.
Dirty, clogged filters not only make your entire HVAC system much less efficient, but they can cause a total breakdown of your unit because it will have to work much harder than it should to pull in air. Be sure to change out your filter before you turn on your system and keep changing it every one to two months for optimal efficiency. If you don’t want to keep track of this chore, there are plenty of local HVAC companies who can do it for you.
Tip #2: Check Your Circuits When Starting Up Your AC for the First Time
Believe it or not, many homeowners out there have trouble starting up their AC after the winter months because they haven’t turned the circuit breakers on. Believe it or not, this has happened to me once or twice (though I usually figure it out what’s going on pretty quickly).
My second tip today is to simply keep in mind that your indoor and outdoor units have different breakers, so you’re going to want to make sure both are turned on.
My second tip today is to simply keep in mind that your indoor and outdoor units have different breakers, so you’re going to want to make sure both are turned on. Typically, the outdoor unit will be labeled “air conditioner” on your electrical panel, while the indoor unit will be labeled as “air handle” or “FAU,” which stands for “forced air unit.”
Tip #3: Check Your Refrigerant Lines After Winter
After you’ve checked your circuits, take a moment to look at the refrigerant line that runs from inside your house to the condenser. Make sure the insulation is intact. If it isn’t, there could be condensation or ice on the copper pipe, and that can, in turn, lead to damage and mold growth. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your refrigerant levels are okay, but be advised, doing that yourself is potentially dangerous. You’re going to want to give an experienced HVAC pro a call to do it for you. They’ll also be able to safely top up refrigerant levels if your system is low. It’s a win-win.
Tip #4: Consider a Smart Thermostat for Your AC
Homeowners often ask me whether a smart thermostat will save them money. While the answer is nuanced, in general it is a firm YES. When you’re starting up your AC after winter, it’s also the perfect time to look into that upgrade as well. Any experienced HVAC pro worth his or her salt can easily install one for you.
Tip #5: Call a Pro When Starting Up Your AC This Summer
One common element of the tips above is to go ahead and call a pro. So, I’ll mention it here one more time. When it comes to starting up your AC after winter, it really is best to get an experienced HVAC pro involved to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. DIY stuff is fine sometimes—although I’ve talked in the past about why you should avoid big jobs like installing your own AC—but for something as important as a pre-summer maintenance test, I really do suggest calling a professional.
If you ask me, I suggest calling in the team at Bell Brothers. We’ve been helping homeowners in the Sacramento region for decades, and we’d be happy to help you out as well! It gets hot here, as you probably know, but your trusty air conditioner is here to help—as long as you first help it kick off another hot season with a healthy start.
At Bell Brothers, our trained HVAC professionals would love to help you make your home as comfortable as possible this summer by helping you start up your AC after winter. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.
Wondering how to finance your home upgrades—like a new AC unit? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.
Image courtesy Unsplash user Diego Botero