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Is Your A/C Summer-Ready? 12 Things to Check Before the First Heat Wave

Make sure your A/C can handle any heat wave this summer with these tips and how to know when to call in the pros.
Aja Koska via

Soaking in the summer sun is part of the fun of the season. But if you don’t have a cool home to retreat to, that heat can start to feel overbearing. Make sure your A/C (or swamp cooler!) can handle any heat wave this summer with these 12 tips, plus guidance on how to know when to call in the pros.

Before beginning preparation steps for either an air conditioner or swamp cooler, make sure the unit is turned off and disconnected from power.

Prepping Your Air Conditioner

  1. Clean the filters

Remove the filter from the unit and vacuum away dust and buildup. If there’s more buildup than your vacuum can handle, you can wash the filter in the sink or with a hose. If the filters are very dirty, or it’s been longer than three months, you’ll need to replace them.

  1. Clean condensate lines

The condensate lines draw water from the evaporator coils and run it into the drain pan. You can make sure these lines are clog-free using a vacuum to suck out any debris and then pour a mixture of vinegar and water through the lines.

  1. Check coolant lines

Examine the lines that carry the refrigerant to ensure there aren’t any signs of leaks. If you do see signs of leaking, you may want to call an HVAC professional to repair the unit.

  1. Remove debris from around condenser unit

Sweep away any leaves and debris from around the condenser unit and vacuum or hose debris from the walls of the unit itself. This allows your A/C to efficiently release the heat that it draws out of your home.

  1. Check the ductwork

Ducts don’t often need cleaning, but it’s important to take care of the situation quickly when they do. If you see pet hair emerging from your ducts or notice a foul smell coming from any of them, it’s time to call in an HVAC professional.

  1. Clean supply and return vents

Ensure your A/C can efficiently pump cold air into your home and pull hot air out by cleaning the supply and return vents inside the house.

  1. Test the unit

Do a test run of the unit on a warm day to determine if air is blowing from all of the vents and the house is cooling adequately.

Article-19B_is-your-ac-summer-ready-12-things-to-check-before-the-first-heat-wavefstop123 via

If after that first-day test run, your A/C is not adequately cooling your home, or it’s turning off when it shouldn’t or making loud noises, it’s time to call in the pros. Keep in mind that an A/C unit lifespan is only around ten years. After this age, you may want to consider replacing the unit. You’ll almost certainly see some savings on your electricity bill with a more efficient model, and you’ll stay cooler through the hot days of summer.

Prepping Your Swamp Cooler (Evaporative Cooler)

Preparing your swamp cooler for summer involves similar steps to preparing an air conditioner.

  1. Clean the exterior

Remove the cover or clear any debris from the swamp cooler and wipe down the outside of the unit to remove any dust.

  1. Clean the interior

Open the sides of the cooler and vacuum out any debris. Wipe down the sides and base of the interior.

  1. Replace pads

Especially if they’ve hardened, it’s essential to change the pads that absorb water within the cooler. It’s advisable to replace these at least every year.

  1. Connect the water line

Reconnect the water line to the unit and check the pipes to ensure they’re in good condition. 

  1. Test the unit

Turn on your swamp cooler and verify that the pump and blower are working and that you don’t see any leaks.

If your swamp cooler isn’t blowing cold air, isn’t wetting the pads, or is making strange noises, it’s time to call in the pros. The lifespan of a swamp cooler is also around ten years, so if yours is older than that, it might be time to consider a replacement.

A broken or under-functioning air conditioner or swamp cooler can make summer miserable. Make sure yours is ready to help you beat the heat of the season!

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you ShelfGenie for helping to expand local news coverage in Alberta. Learn more.
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