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Article : Does Your Air Conditioner Have What it Takes?.

Don't wait until the hot weather is upon us before maintaining your central air conditioner. A little preventative care now will help to ensure your system keeps you cool through the hot months ahead. Here is a guideline for an early season check-up and maintenance reminders.

Airflow: Although this seems like a simple point, most people don't realize that central air conditioners must have plenty of air flow to run efficiently. The following maintenance tips will help prevent any problems that may result because of lack of proper air flow:

Clean filters regularly.
Remove any debris or leaves from the unit.
Keep the condensing coils clean by brushing them and hosing them down.
Shrubs or plants that may inhibit air flow should be kept at least 18 inches away from the condenser.
Identify the condensate drain for signs of blockage or leaking. It's normal to see water dripping when the unit is running.
Inside the house, ensure registers are unobstructed and clear of furniture or other objects.

Professional Maintenance:

If it becomes necessary to hire a technician, make sure this person is a qualified air conditioning technician. Inexperienced or poorly trained technicians may not perform a thorough inspection of your unit, or may not take the preventative measures necessary to avoid future problems. The investment for a professional, but in the long run may lead to expensive problems that could have been avoided.

At the very least, the inspector should perform the following checks:

Check refrigerant levels and top up if necessary.
Test for refrigerant leaks.
Inspect the ducts for leakage and seal if necessary.
Clean the blower and all its parts.
Inspect the evaporator coil and measure the air flow.
Oil the motors and check the belts, replacing if necessary.
Look for leaks or backup in the condensate system.
Check the operating temperatures and pressures.
Ensure the thermostat is accurate.

The above tips are only guidelines and will not ensure you won't have problems with your central air conditioner. However, they may help to avoid costly repairs by catching them early.

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