Super Handyman: Tune up your air conditioner for warmer times ahead - The Buffalo News

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Super Handyman: Tune up your air conditioner for warmer times ahead

If you haven’t turned on your air conditioning yet, you will be doing so soon. Will it start up? Will it get you through another year? Is it running as efficiently as it could be? These all are questions you need to have the answers to, and soon. Here are some things you can do to make sure your air conditioner is going to work, and work as well as it can.

As with so many projects, cleaning is very important. But make sure to turn off all of the breakers that supply power to the unit. To clean the outside unit – the compressor – use your water hose with a pressure-sprayer attachment to clean debris off the outside of the unit. Another way to clean debris from the unit is with an air compressor. Keep weeds and other stuff from blocking the air flow through these coils.

Cleaning the coils inside the house is a little harder. You need to open up the unit to get to the coils and blower. Then use a vacuum, duster and mild cleaners to get the funk off of these surfaces.

While you have the side of the unit off, check your drain to make sure it still is flowing. Pour a little bleach and water into the drain and make sure it’s working. Compressed air also can be used to clear these lines. If the lines still are clogged, you’ll need to get a pro to clean them out, because they are going to drain somewhere.

Change the filter while you are in the vicinity. Close the unit and make sure to seal around the edges. You also should make sure your ducts are sealed. Use mastic and/or aluminum tape to do this. Duct tape is not a good choice for sealing ducts – go figure!

If you don’t have a programmable thermostat yet, make the switch. These really are helpful in controlling your comfort levels and saving your energy dollars.

Most other repairs need to be handled by a trained HVAC serviceman, and a seasonal tuneup makes sense for most of us.


Q: Help! We put up wooden paneling in our family room last fall. Now it’s bulging and popping out in places. What can we do? – B.W.

A: You need to let paneling sit in the room for several days, unwrapped, so it can acclimate. Then, when you hang it, you need to leave about 1/16-inch between the sheets to provide room for expansion. About all you can do at this point is to take down some of it and rehang it, leaving the gaps between panels. We’re sorry we don’t have a better solution.

A Super hint

Acids usually make great cleaners, but they need to be used with caution. You should always wear gloves and use eye protection. Always pour the acid into the water, not the other way around, to prevent splashing it.


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Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.

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