HVAC system on a beautiful green grass during a hot summer day

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One of the best feelings is stepping into an air conditioned home after a hot, sweltering day. Your AC unit is a life saver in the summer, and while you may pay little attention to it when it’s running smoothly, it can be a serious pain when it stops working efficiently, not to mention pretty costly. Fortunately, there are some simple maintenance tasks you can do yourself to make sure your AC unit functions at its fullest, which will save energy and reduce your monthly bills. Here are seven things to include in your HVAC summer maintenance checklist. 

1. Change the Furnace Filter 

Changing your furnace filter is a simple step that will make a big difference. It boosts the health of your HVAC system, improves your air quality and can reduce your energy usage by 15 percent, saving you money on energy bills. If you use temporary filters, replace them every one to three months, and if you have a permanent filter, take it out and rinse it monthly. 

2. Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat

If you’re looking for another way to save energy and lower your monthly bills, a smart thermostat is a great investment. They allow you to set the temperature in your home to be warmer when you’re not there and cooler and more comfortable when you are. You can control the temperature in your home remotely and change the temperature if necessary, which is very useful when you’re at work or on vacation. 

3. Make Sure the Drainage Hole is Clear 

Air conditioners typically have a drainage hole located at their cabinet’s base, below the evaporator fins. The hole must be kept clear for your unit to operate efficiently. The hole will likely be quite small, so you can use a paper clip or small piece of wire to clean it. 

4. Clear Obstructions Around Your Exterior AC Unit

Since your AC unit is located outside, it’s important to protect it from the elements. Be sure to remove any obstructions such as loose vegetation or debris. You shouldn’t have anything placed or growing within two feet of the unit. This allows the AC to pull in the air it needs to control the temperature in your home. 

5. Dry Out Your Dehumidifier

If you have a dehumidifier in your home, ensure it’s working at maximum capacity by drying it out. Removing the outer casting will allow your system to dry completely. Once it’s dry, vacuum the entire unit to remove dirt and debris, then put it back together. 

6. Clean Your Bathroom Fans

Your bathroom fans are regularly working hard, so it’s important to clean them as part of your summer maintenance. First, make sure your power is off before you start. Then, remove the covers from your fans and wash them with soap and water. With the covers off, use a toothbrush to clean the fan blades, then reapply the cover. 

7. Professional AC Tune Up

Having a professional come in to work on your AC unit will tick things off the list that you can’t do as a homeowner, such as cleaning and clearing the condensate drain line, tightening electrical connections, checking the refrigerant level and much more. Schedule a tune up with Northwest Gas in the spring to reduce your risk of breakdowns, improve indoor air quality and lower your energy bills.