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As warmer weather approaches, it's time for that all-important springtime ritual: air conditioner tune-up. Many homeowners think, "Hmmm, the AC was working fine since the last time we used it, it should be fine now."

That may be true, but chances are, it could be running better. A tune-up will catch any minor offenses that the power company will spank you for. If you need refrigerant added, you'll have to get someone who is licensed to do that but here are some things you can take care of. Every model is a little different but this is the generic scoop.

DisclaimerAlways trip the circuit breaker to isolate the unit.

  • Straighten the evaporator fins. These form the sides of the unit. Are some of the fins bent from bumping them with the mower or Frisbee? Straighten them out using a fin comb. (Yes, such things do exist! I knew you were going to ask.)
  • Clean the fins. Use a soft brush and soapy water to clean them.
  • Clean the drain pan. Don't let it get full of leaves. Finally, pour in a half cup of bleach or use algaecide tablets to stop the funky stuff.
  • Level the condenser. Use a two or a four foot level. If it's out of level in any direction, across the top of the unit, shim it up. This will keep the refrigerant flowing the way it was designed.
  • And finally, start the summer off with a new air return filter. Change it monthly.


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