The summers in Kansas are fairly hot and overly humid at times, so your air conditioning system usually gets quite a bit of work. If your AC isn’t working effectively, you may end up sweating for most of the summer instead of enjoying your cool, comfortable home. You’ll also end up paying more on your electricity bills. That’s why it’s important to take these steps to ensure that your air conditioner is ready to handle the summer heat and work as efficiently as it can.

Make Sure Your AC System’s Coils Are Clean

The evaporator coil and condenser coil are two of the most important parts of an air conditioning system. Each coil consists of a series of copper tubes that the refrigerant flows through. The outside of the coil is essentially a metal grate that consists of hundreds or thousands of aluminum fins. The purpose of the fins is to disperse the air flowing through the coil so that it comes into direct contact with all the copper refrigerant tubes.

As the warm indoor air flows through the evaporator coil, the refrigerant continually absorbs heat from the air as it moves through the tubes. AC refrigerant has an extremely low boiling point, so it eventually starts boiling as it moves through the evaporator coil and absorbs heat. This process transforms it from a cold liquid into a fairly cold gas.

After exiting the evaporator coil, the refrigerant eventually flows outside and enters the compressor. The compressor increases the pressure of the refrigerant, which instantly changes it into a “superheated” gas with a temperature of around 120–140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Finally, the refrigerant flows into the condenser coil and begins letting go of all the heat. This works because the air that the condenser fan blows through the condenser coil is cooler than the refrigerant. This temperature difference results in heat energy being naturally transferred from the refrigerant into the air.

The reason that both coils need to be cleaned yearly is that lots of dust ends up settling on the refrigerant tubes and especially the fins. If the fins are clogged with dust, very little air will be able to flow through the coil and reach the tubes. Dust on the tubes is an issue since it insulates them so that little air directly contacts them.

A dirty evaporator coil prevents your AC from absorbing much heat, whereas a dirty condenser coil prevents the heat from flowing out of the refrigerant. In either case, the result is that your AC will work much less effectively. Dust can also cause the evaporator coil to freeze up, and the compressor motor can end up overheating if there is lots of dust on the condenser coil.

Trying to clean your AC coils yourself is always a bad idea since they are quite fragile and can easily be damaged. Such damage could lead to a refrigerant leak, which will prevent it from working properly. Even worse, you may end up spending a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to have one of the coils replaced.

That’s why you’re always better off having a certified technician service your AC system at the start of every summer. This way you can ensure the coils are clean and the system doesn’t have any other issues.

Check That the Refrigerant Lines Are Properly Insulated

Your AC system has a set of two copper refrigerant lines that connect the condenser unit outside with the evaporator coil in your house. The low-pressure line carries cold refrigerant into the house, and the hot refrigerant then travels back outside through the high-pressure line. You can tell which line is which because the cold low-pressure line is slightly larger and completely encased in black foam insulation.

The reason that the cold line is insulated has to do with the fact that refrigerant is great at absorbing heat. This property is what allows air conditioning to work since it enables the refrigerant to remove heat from within the house. If the cold line isn’t fully insulated, the refrigerant absorbs large amounts of heat as it gets pumped from the condenser to the evaporator coil.

This is an issue because the refrigerant will get much hotter than it should be, so it won’t be able to capture and hold as much heat. Your air conditioner will cool much more slowly or potentially not at all. The entire length of the cold line should be fully insulated, but insulation is especially important for the section outside in between the condenser and the house. Because the temperature outside is much hotter than inside your house, the refrigerant will absorb much more heat if this section isn’t properly insulated.

The foam insulation around the cold line almost always ends up deteriorating over time due to sun exposure and weathering. This can lead to it splitting or simply starting to fall apart to the point where part of the line is exposed to the outdoor air. If the insulation isn’t fully intact, condensation will also start forming on the line. This leads to moisture soaking into the remaining insulation and causing it to deteriorate even faster.

It’s a good idea to have this AC line reinsulated at least every few years to ensure that it’s fully covered. However, sometimes the line may need reinsulating as often as every year or so. Many experts recommend having this done every year at the start of the cooling season to ensure that your AC works well all summer.

Clear the Area Around Your AC Condenser

Your cooling system will only work properly if the condenser has proper airflow. Make sure to provide at least 2 to 3 feet of open space in front of the unit and on each side. Regularly cut down grass and weeds, and trim back any bushes that are starting to encroach on the condenser. Also, make sure no debris is clogging up the grilles or grates on the front and sides.

These things matter because they ensure that the fan can continually pull air through the appliance so that it blows over the evaporator coil. If the airflow is blocked or even slightly restricted, it decreases how much heat can flow out of the refrigerant. That means it essentially has the same effect as a dirty condenser coil.

Replace the Air Filter

The final thing to do before it starts getting really hot is to replace the air filter in your HVAC system. This is necessary every one to three months. Replace the air filter before you start using your AC and then again sometime in July or August. If you don’t do this often enough, your air conditioning will start to struggle since the filter will eventually get so dirty that it prevents much air from being pulled into the system. Your electricity bills will be higher, and the chances of the evaporator coil freezing or the AC breaking down will increase.

MVP Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing & Electric is ready to help you ensure that your air conditioning system can cope with the summer heat and humidity. We offer expert AC maintenance, repair and installation services for customers in Lenexa and the Kansas City area, and our team is also here to help with your heating, plumbing and electrical needs.

Contact us at MVP Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing & Electric to schedule an AC tune-up so that you can stay comfortable all summer long.

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