Don't just fire up your AC and pray that it'll work right - take a few minutes and look things over so you don't inadvertently cause a major problem!

The birds are chirping. Your perennial bulbs are starting to show life. And yes, we’ve already set our clocks one hour ahead. That’s right – spring is upon us. And, as we all know, a break in the weather means summer is rapidly approaching, too – those summer temperatures are right around the corner!

Soon, homeowners from Strongsville to Sugarcreek will want their central air conditioning systems to perform at their peak potential not only the first time they’re needed, but every time the AC is turned on.

Before you get too excited about switching the thermostat from Heat to Cool until next winter rolls around, you should ensure your home’s cooling system is ready for the coming heat.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps the expert HVAC technicians from our team here at Hey Neighbor Heating & Cooling take before turning on their own AC system for the first time after Northeast Ohio’s long winter season. Our goal is to set you up for AC success during the entire summer.

When should I turn on the AC for the first time?

Believe it or not, the answer isn’t “the first hot day of the year.” You’ll regret waiting until you really need cooling before discovering there’s a problem with your system. Instead, select a day when you’ll be at home and follow the steps below. If you encounter an issue, get your AC looked at by our neighborly professionals. We know how to assess your system. Then, if repairs are needed, you’ll be relieved the problem has been taken care of ahead of time so that you don’t sweat!

How do I get my AC ready for the warm season?

It’s easier than you might think! Follow these easy steps for turning on your central air for the first time after winter.

Step 1. Clean your vents. Examine the registers throughout your home. Are they open? They all should be. Is anything blocking them? Clean and clear vents help the air circulate more freely, so it cools your home more efficiently.

Step 2. Check your ductwork for leaks. A candle or lighter flame is ideal for this task. If the flame flickers near a duct, you have a leak. They’re most often found along exposed ductwork sections, where duct tape is used, or any separated joints. Seal any leaks you can see or feel and get help from our team for leaking ducts you can’t reach.

Step 3. Change your filter. A dirty HVAC filter restricts airflow and reduces cooling efficiency. Replace your air filter at least once every three months, and inspect the filter before using your AC for the first time, just to be sure.

Step 4. Inspect your drain line. Near your system’s indoor cooling coil, there’s a drain line that’s usually near your basement ceiling. When dirt builds up, the drain line becomes clogged. Keep your drain clear throughout the year by pouring a cup of water-diluted chlorine bleach or vinegar down your air conditioning drain line. This easy task clears clogs and prevents algae buildup, too.

Step 5. Check the circuit breaker. Your AC system’s circuit breaker may have been tripped during the winter months, or you may have switched it off yourself last fall. If so, you’ll need to reset it. However, if the breaker trips again, or you’re not sure which breaker controls the outdoor unit, contact our HVAC professionals.

Step 6. Remove the outdoor unit’s cover. Some homeowners use a fitted cloth cover or even a piece of wood to protect their air conditioning system’s condenser during the winter. If you use a cover, be sure to remove it before switching on your AC. Leaving the unit covered while it’s operating will harm your cooling system.

Step 7. Inspect your outdoor condenser unit. Your unit has been inactive outside for months during the winter. As a result, it can get clogged with leaves and other debris and needs to be inspected before use each spring. It helps if you also look for any missing panels on the unit, which cover and protect its electrical connections from the elements.

Step 8. Inspect the refrigerant lines. Insulation typically covers the lines that feed into the system. Good, intact insulation improves the air conditioner’s efficiency. Animals or adverse weather may have damaged the insulation or the pipes beneath it. If you see any damage, call the professionals at Hey Neighbor Heating & Cooling. An expert should always handle refrigerant or insulation repairs.

Step 9. Check the fan. If your condenser’s fan blades are covered in crud, they should be vacuumed clean and then wiped down. It’s also wise to check that the fan’s mounting bolts haven’t come loose over the winter.

Step 10. Clean the exterior of your condenser. Free the area of debris around your outdoor unit and ensure that grass clippings from last summer aren’t blocking the unit’s vents. You can use a garden hose to give it a good cleaning.

Step 11. Trim any surrounding plant life. We don’t usually associate yard work with AC maintenance, but we should. Some homeowners landscape to make the area around their AC more appealing. Flowers, shrubs, and other plants that begin to grow again in the spring need to be trimmed back, so they don’t restrict airflow around the condenser. It’s also wise to plant at least two feet away from the unit.

Step 12. Look for wiring damage. Electrical issues can not only cause cooling loss, but they can lead to expensive repairs. Inspect the condenser’s wiring for wear or fraying. If you see something that doesn’t look right, call our HVAC experts for a visit and get the issue resolved.

Step 13. Inspect your thermostat. Now, it’s time to switch the system to Cool. Make sure it’s set to the correct temperature, so your AC doesn’t work harder than necessary. Now is also the ideal time to change your thermostat battery.

Step 14. Watch and listen. Once you turn on your air conditioning system, head outside, stand by the condenser unit, and observe it for about 15 minutes. Today is the first time it’s been operated in months, so stay alert for any issues. Afterward, head back indoors and feel the air coming out of your vents. If it’s not cool, call us.

Step 15. Schedule an annual AC tune-up. Even after going through these steps, it’s wise to schedule professional maintenance on your AC unit, performed by our trained and certified technicians. This once-yearly routine maintenance ensures it’ll keep running well for many summers to come. It’ll also prevent expensive damage and replacement costs.

Let Hey Neighbor Heating & Cooling wake up your AC this spring!

Now that the weather here in Northeast Ohio is starting to warm up and you’re thinking about switching your air conditioning on for the first time, trust the expert team at Hey Neighbor Heating & Cooling to set your system up for summer success. Call us today at 844-HEY-NEIGHBOR to schedule an air conditioning tune-up!


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