Before the hottest parts of summer arrive, you can do some maintenance and tests on your old air conditioner to make sure everything is in good shape. Making sure it's clean, that it can run without shutting down prematurely, and testing some of its components can both help your air conditioner run more smoothly when you need it most and help you catch signs of trouble early on.
Clean the Condenser Unit
The condenser unit, which usually sits outside your home, houses some important and expensive components like the compressor, condenser coils, and your fan and fan motor. In order to run efficiently, the condenser unit itself should be clean to prevent the obstruction of airflow. Remove weeds and dirt from around the unit, and wash the unit down with a hose to remove buildups of dust and dirt. If any of the fins are bent or damaged, a technician can straighten them out for you, or you can attempt to use a fin-straightening tool on your own.
If you can open up the unit, it's important to remove any debris inside like leaves or sticks. Anything inside the unit can get knocked around when the fan turns on, which can subsequently damage the fan blades or other parts.
Test the Fuses
When your fuses fail they can cause your entire air conditioning system to stop running, but they are relatively inexpensive and easy to access and test compared to other components. If you have the right tools, you can try testing them yourself. If they're as old as the air conditioner, it might be a good idea to buy replacements to have on hand just in case. During summer when demand is high, there may not always be replacements immediately available, so keeping replacements ready means you can replace them almost immediately once they fail.
Test Your Thermostat
Regardless of what power source your thermostat uses—such as individual batteries or your home's electricity—it's a good idea to check your thermostat. Beyond just looking to see if it's responsive, see if your HVAC system responds properly and quickly to any input, whether it's set to fan or cool or set to on or automatic. Older thermostats can fail, and in some cases, thermostats can become disconnected from the rest of the system.
If your thermostat runs on batteries, check the batteries and the terminals to look for signs of oxidation. If necessary, clean the terminals and replace the batteries if they're getting old.
Give it a Test Run
Finally, giving your air conditioner a test run can help you discover early signs of trouble. Set it to run and then listen for any strange sounds or see if you detect any strange odors. Make sure the air coming out of your vents is cool and remains cool, and keep your air conditioner running long enough to make sure it doesn't shut down prematurely. You can also test any scheduling features to make sure this works as well.
If you do hear any strange noises, especially grinding, clunking, or screeching, shut down your air conditioner immediately; this could indicate serious problems with moving parts, and this will need to be repaired before your air conditioner is used at all.
For more information about HVAC maintenance, contact a local company.