Starting Your Air Conditioner System in the Spring and Shutting It Down in the Fall

At the beginning and end of each cooling season, there are specific things you need to do before you switch on your air conditioner for the first time, as well as after you stop using it in the fall. In Calgary, some of the hottest summer weather homeowners experience is from July through September. Although, it is not uncommon to have several warmer days with record high temperatures in May and June, too.

At Distinct Heating & Cooling, we have prepared a checklist for you to use in the Spring and Fall to help you start up and shut down your air conditioner system correctly. We recommend reviewing this list to avoid potential problems now and in the future, not to mention unexpected and often costly repairs. In the event you require assistance with completing the checklist, do not hesitate to contact one of our qualified Calgary air conditioner service technicians to provide help and ensure your air conditioner system is running efficiently and correctly at the start of the season.

Common Air Conditioner System Definitions

Before discussing the proper way to start up or shut down the A/C system, we have provided a list of common A/C system definitions to better enable you to identify specific areas of the system that require your attention during these processes.

Air Filter

The same air filter used with your furnace is also used as part of the cooling system. All of the air that moves throughout the ductwork and ventilation system within your Calgary home travels through the same system. It is important to change the air filter on a regular basis to prevent dust, dirt, allergens, pet dander, pet hair, and other particles from getting into the system and creating operational problems.

Air Conditioner Condensing Coil

The condensing coil is the exterior part of the outside A/C unit. The coil can become clogged with dirt, dust, pollen, and other debris, which results in reduced airflow, problems with the coil’s ability to absorb heat, and a decrease in the efficiency of the cooling system. The condensing coil can easily be damaged and bent, so it is highly recommended to schedule professional air conditioner maintenance service in Calgary to clean them when they are dirty or clogged.

Air Conditioner Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil is typically the indoor part of the A/C unit. This coil can also get dirty from any dust, pollen, or debris that is sucked into the unit or through a dirty or clogged air filter. Just like the condensing coil, dirt on the evaporate coil causes problems with the coil’s ability to absorb heat. For peak operating performance, the evaporator coil should be inspected annually and cleaned as needed by a qualified A/C technician.

Air Conditioner Cover

Some people cover their outdoor A/C units using an approved cover in the fall when they shut the system down for the season. Before turning on the system in the spring, remember to remove the cover, otherwise the system can overheat, be damaged, and result in a costly repair.

Air Conditioner System Obstructions

There are all sorts of obstructions which can hinder the operation of the A/C system. It is essential to remove any debris, foliage, overhanging tree branches, or other such obstructions from around the outdoor A/C unit. There should be a minimum of at least half a meter of clearance completely around the unit for proper air flow.

Spring Air Conditioner Start Up

When the colder winter and spring months are coming to the end, the following instructions provide an overview of what you need to do to properly and correctly start up your air conditioning system.

  • Air Filter – Make sure the air filter in your furnace is clean. Depending on the type of heating system you have, there could potentially be two different filters you need to inspect and check.
  • Humidifier Controller/Thermostat – Turn the controller on the humidifier thermostat to the “OFF” position.
  • Humidifier Damper – Make sure the damper for the humidifier is in the “CLOSED” or “SUMMER” position.
  • Unit Cover – Remove the outdoor A/C unit cover BEFORE turning on the system.
  • Obstructions – Check for obstructions around the outdoor A/C unit and clear them away.
  • Condensing Coil – Inspect the condensing coil for dust, dirt, debris and blockages. DO NOT turn the system on if the coil looked clogged or are extremely dirty, until you have the coil professionally cleaned.
  • Air Conditioner Breaker – If you use an A/C unit cover, the breaker should have been turned off in the fall. Regardless of whether you shut off the A/C breaker in the fall, verify it is in the “ON” position.
  • Floor/Ceiling Registers – Fully open and adjust floor and ceiling registers on the main floor and top floor (if applicable) are opened.
  • Basement Registers – Since the basement tends to remain cooler in the summer, it is recommended to fully close all registers, as this will help force more cool air into the other areas of your Calgary home.
  • Thermostat – Set the “SYSTEM” switch on the thermostat to either the “AUTO” or “COOL” position. Adjust the thermostat to the desired temperature setting. Remember to update any preprogrammed settings for the warmer months.

If you did not get your annual heating and cooling maintenance and tune-up completed last fall, the spring is a great time to get this service performed to ensure your heating system is properly shut down, your cooling system is ready to go, and there are no potential problems. Discovering and identifying operating issues now is often less costly to repair and will help avoid unexpected problems later, especially on those hot summer days.

Fall Air Conditioner Shut Down

Once late September or October arrives, and the weather starts turning colder, it is time to shut down your air conditioner system for the season and prepare your heating system. Taking the time to correctly shut down the A/C system helps keep your system operating at peak performance come next Spring.

  • Air Filter – Ideally, you should have checked your air filter every few months throughout the warmer months and replace it, as needed. If you forget to do this, change the air filter now.
  • Humidifier Damper – Make sure the damper for the humidifier is in the “OPEN” or “WINTER” position.
  • Humidifier Controller/Thermostat – Turn the controller on the humidifier thermostat to the “ON” position and set it to the desired set point.
  • Air Conditioner Breaker – If you use a cover on your outdoor A/C unit, make sure to turn the breaker to the “OFF” position. This way, if you should forget to remove the cover next spring you can avoid damaging your A/C system.
  • Basement Registers – Open all basement registers for proper heating.
  • Thermostat – Set the “SYSTEM” switch on the thermostat to the “HEAT” position. Adjust the thermostat to the desired temperature setting. Remember to update any preprogrammed settings for the colder months.
  • Unit Cover – If you have an A/C cover, put the outdoor A/C unit cover on AFTER turning off the A/C system and remembering to shut off the A/C breaker.

Before fully shutting down the air conditioner system for the season, it does not hurt to do an initial start up the heating system to verify it is working correctly. Simply turn the setting on the thermostat to the “HEAT” position and adjust the temperature until the system turns on. Keep in mind, there can be minor burning smell the first time you turn on the heating system, as it burns any dust that made its way inside the furnace.

If the burning smell is stronger or does not seem to dissipate as the system blows warm air out the vents, shut the system down immediately and call for service, as this often indicates a problem with the heating system.

In addition, if you did not get your annual heating and cooling maintenance and tune-up service completed in the Spring, remember to schedule this essential service now before the colder winter months arrive. At Distinct Heating & Cooling, our 30-point heating and cooling system maintenance and tune-up provides a detailed inspection to ensure the efficient operation of your furnace and air conditioner system and avoid costly repairs later.

For more information or assistance in starting up or shutting down your air conditioner or furnace, call the experts at Distinct Heating & Cooling now at (403) 477-3810. We are happy to lend our knowledge, answer your questions, and provide affordable solutions and service for your home in Calgary or the surrounding area.