Home Improvement

Seasonal AC Maintenance: Preparing Your Unit for Summer and Winter

Proper maintenance is crucial for ensuring your air conditioning system operates efficiently during both the summer and winter months. Neglecting routine maintenance tasks can result in higher energy bills, costly repairs for breakdowns, and uncomfortable indoor temperatures. Being proactive and prioritizing seasonal AC maintenance can help you save money while ensuring year-round comfort in your home’s indoor environment. This article provides tips on essential maintenance for both the summer and winter seasons.

Summer AC Maintenance

When outdoor temperatures rise, you’ll want your air conditioner operating at peak performance. Proper refrigerant levels and coil maintenance provide even more potential savings. Studies show diligent seasonal maintenance can improve the efficiency of older units by as much as 20%! With stats like that, it pays to spend a little time getting your AC ready for summer duty. Here are some key maintenance tasks to prepare your AC unit for the demands of summer cooling.

I. Cleaning Air Filters

Dirty air filters lead to reduced airflow, which forces your AC system to work harder to cool your home.This results in higher electricity bills and potential damage to your unit. The Department of Energy estimates that replacing a dirty filter can lower your AC’s energy use by 5-15%. Therefore, check filters monthly and replace them as needed, at least every 3 months.

Additionally, make sure to turn off your AC system before removing the filter to avoid releasing debris into the system. Also, when inserting the new filter, check that it is facing in the correct direction to allow proper airflow.

II. Checking Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is the substance in your AC system that absorbs and releases heat to provide cooling. Improper refrigerant levels decrease efficiency by up to 20%, per the EPA, and this drives up energy costs.

Have an HVAC technician check that refrigerant levels are optimized annually – they can conduct a thorough leak check and recharge the system if needed. Older AC systems may require more frequent refrigerant level checks due to a higher risk of leaks.

III. Clearing Condensate Drain Lines

Condensation produced as a byproduct of cooling collects in drain lines and must drain away from your AC unit. According to the IBHS, clogged drain lines can cause water damage costing thousands in repairs. Therefore, always clear debris from condensate drain lines each season to allow proper drainage using a stiff wire, condensate pump, compressed air, or commercial drain cleaner to clear clogs. Furthermore, inspect overflow pans and drain line outlets to ensure there are no obstructions.

Winter AC Maintenance

Your air conditioner still requires care during the colder months to ensure it survives harsh weather and operates efficiently next summer. studies show a well-maintained AC that survives winter harshness intact can operate up to 15% more efficiently the following summer. Here are some key winter maintenance tasks to prepare your AC unit for the demands of winter heating:

  • Covering/Protecting the Outdoor Unit

Exposure to snow, ice, leaves, and other winter debris can cause damage to your AC’s outdoor components. Therefore, ensure covers are secured well and allow for drainage. You can use tie-downs, weights, or stakes to keep the cover in place through wind gusts. Additionally, remove covers in early spring once all danger of freezing temperatures has passed.

  • Adjusting Thermostat Settings

adjusting thermostat settings

According to Energy Star, lowering the thermostat to just 7-10°F for 8 hours daily saves up to 10% on bills. Use programmable thermostats to automate temperature adjustments and set a schedule to lower temperatures at night and when away from home. In addition, make gradual thermostat adjustments to avoid shocking your system with sudden operating changes.

  • Checking Insulation and Seals

The EPA estimates proper sealing and insulation can save 15% on energy bills. It is best to inspect weatherstripping and caulking around windows and doors. Make sure attic insulation meets recommended R-value levels for your climate zone. If you cannot make these changes DIY-style, hire a professional to identify and seal any hidden gaps and leaks throughout the home. Also, prioritize sealing bypasses between the attic and living spaces.

Professional Inspection and Tune-Up

While DIY maintenance improves efficiency, a professional tune-up and inspection before each season provides added benefits. Though a tune-up may cost $50-$150, it can yield savings of 5-15% on seasonal energy bills by optimizing performance. Moreover, by catching minor issues before they become major repairs, proactive maintenance saves the average homeowner $180 per year in avoided equipment failures and emergency service calls.

  • Pre-Season Inspection

An HVAC technician will thoroughly assess your entire system and identify any components needing repair/replacement. This allows you to address issues proactively instead of being caught off guard by a malfunction during peak season.

  • HVAC Technician Services

Technicians have specialized expertise, tools, and technology to optimize performance. According to HomeAdvisor, a standard tune-up costs $75-$200 depending on your location and specific services. Such investments can pay off in the long run and professionals at air conditioning repair San Angelo, TX understand the value of regular maintenance for maximizing performance and efficiency.

  • Benefits of Regular Maintenance

HVAC systems are up to 95% less likely to have major breakdowns with consistent maintenance. Studies by the Department of Energy found homeowners can extend the lifespan of HVAC systems by up to 15 years through regular professional maintenance and service.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How often should I clean or replace my air filters?

The EPA recommends checking filters monthly and replacing them at least every 3 months. Filters may need more frequent replacement if they appear visibly dirty or your system runs constantly.

  • Is it necessary to cover my outdoor AC unit during the winter months?

Yes, covering your outdoor AC condenser in winter protects it from damage related to snow, ice accumulation, leaves, nests, and other debris. Just make sure the cover is secure, allows for drainage, and is removed before using your AC in spring.

  • Why is professional maintenance important, and how often should it be scheduled?

HVAC technicians have the skills and tools to thoroughly inspect, tune, and service your entire system for optimal comfort and efficiency. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America recommends professional maintenance twice per year, ideally before the cooling and heating seasons.


Being diligent about seasonal AC maintenance ensures your system operates at peak efficiency during the hottest and coldest months of the year. By cleaning filters, checking refrigerant, clearing drains, adjusting thermostats, inspecting seals, and enlisting professional technicians, you can minimize energy costs and extend your AC system’s lifespan. With proper care and routine upkeep, your air conditioner will provide reliable comfort and healthy indoor air quality all year long.

Discover more by exploring further or checking out related articles.

Cheryl Henson

Cheryl Henson is a passionate blogger and digital marketing professional who loves writing, reading, and sharing blogs on various topics.

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