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The summer season will officially start on June 20, 2021. As a homeowner, you know how important it is to be sure that your home — notably your air conditioner — is prepared for the scorching weather that’ll soon be here. We asked one of our trusted, experienced technicians some questions about making sure that cooling systems are ready for the summer weather. Here’s how the conversation went.

Q: What’s the most important thing I need to do to get my AC ready for summer?

A: First and foremost, you should schedule a maintenance appointment for your air conditioner. Consider it preventative maintenance — just like you would do with your car. Even when nothing is necessarily wrong with your car, you still take it to the mechanic for an oil change and a look-over. The same could be said with your air conditioner and scheduling a tune-up.

During a tune-up, a technician will do a thorough check of the components inside your air conditioner. They’ll clean them to be sure they aren’t caked in dirt that would cause a problem. They’ll make sure that everything is running the way it should — as safely and as efficiently as possible. One reason it’s important to do that when you’re getting ready for the summer is that if there are any problems with your AC, this is when you want to find them. Better to find and fix it early instead of when they might cause a system failure in the heat of summer.

Q: Is there any kind of air conditioner maintenance I can do myself?

A: It’s not recommended for you to take apart your AC and clean/inspect everything the same way that a professional technician would — that could be quite dangerous, actually! However, there are still some maintenance tasks you can take care of on your own — routinely changing the air filter each month during the peak of the cooling season, for example.

You should also check the condenser unit (that’s the box outside your home) and make sure there aren’t any tree limbs or bushes growing too close to it. Keep a minimum of two feet of clearance around the unit so that air can circulate freely. Also, don’t store things on top of the unit or prop anything up against it. Air conditioners need to have room to “breathe.”

Q: Why is it so important for me to change my air filter regularly?

A: All air passing through your home’s cooling (and heating) system goes through the air filter to get cleaned. It helps keep things like pet hair, dust and dirt from getting circulated into the home and then breathed in by the people living there. If you don’t change the filter, those air contaminants will keep building up. That doesn’t just jeopardize your home’s indoor air quality, but it can also cause your air conditioner to work much harder than usual in order to keep your home cool and comfortable.

That’s not a good chain of events to have going, because an air conditioner that works harder than it needs to can suffer from premature wear and tear. It may even lead to a system breakdown of your air conditioner — which could be expensive to repair.

Q: What size replacement air filter do I need?

A: If you aren’t sure what size filter you need, check the one that’s installed right now and use the info on that as a guide. Additionally, you can check the owner’s manual that came with your air conditioner. You may need to change your air filter more often if you smoke or have pets — they can cause your filter to get dirty faster than usual.

Q: What are some warning signs that could indicate there’s a problem with my AC?

A: If you notice any of the following, get a hold of a cooling professional immediately for assistance: certain rooms feel much warmer than usual; the air conditioner is making strange sounds; the unit won’t come on at all; there are puddles of water forming around outside condenser unit; or if the air conditioner seems to randomly be cycling on or off.

Q: Should I cover my AC during a storm?

A: No. Adding any kind of covering over your air conditioning system can trap moisture inside the condenser unit, and that can cause damage to the internal components in the system. It may even lead to the development of dangerous mold or mildew. So don’t cover it. And to prevent storm damage to your air conditioner, keep tree limbs trimmed back from the condenser so that if they fall, they don’t fall on the unit itself.

Q: What else can I do to ensure my AC runs efficiently all summer?

A: Be proactive! Enroll in the Cooling System Repair Plan from American Water Resources. Sign up for protection now — before you need it. When you’re enrolled in the plan and a covered problem occurs, just give us a call and we’ll work with one of our network service providers to get someone who’s local out to your home. We’ll help you get your air conditioner running like normal again as quickly as possible.