Experts share their best tips.

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Make no mistake about it: A faulty air conditioning unit can drive up your electric bill and wreak havoc on your health. "Air conditioners are very delicate machines designed to control the refrigeration cycle," says Victar Belavus, a certified technician at 212 HVAC. "Proper use can lead to positive cooling effects, but otherwise you might wind up with a high energy bill, or worse, dry skin and respiratory issues."

With summer fast approaching, now's the time to prep your air conditioning unit to ensure it runs efficiently and doesn't get overstrained when you need it the most. "Do prep work, repairs, and maintenance on your AC unit on your own ahead of time," suggests certified technician Eli Raviv, also of 212 HVAC. "This way you'll avoid the cost of repairmen and technicians later on." Looking for ways to get your home air conditioning unit summer-ready? We asked our HVAC experts for tips on prepping your AC unit for the hot-weather season ahead.

Change or Clean the Air Filter

The air filter inside your air conditioning unit is designed to catch allergens and dirt (and prevent them from blowing into your living space), which is why Raviv says changing or cleaning them is crucial to your indoor air quality. "Change or clean the filter every couple of months," he says. "If you haven't changed yours in a while, just before spring is ideal so that any dust accumulation from winter is purged before you turn on your AC for summer."

Clean the Vents and Registers

Similar to air filters, the vents and registers in your air conditioning unit accumulate dust and allergens; you don't want those dispersed into the air come summertime, Belavus says. "If you have a pet, their fur will most likely find its way into these areas," he adds. "Vacuum each vent before turning on the system, and remove the grates and wipe down each slat to remove dust stuck in crevices."

Check the Thermostat

If your thermostat isn't communicating with your unit, Raviv says you will wind up having trouble maintaining the right temperature in your home. "Test the thermostat to ensure it turns on the AC and cools your living space to the proper setting," he says. "For digital versions, ensure that it follows any preset schedules, and take note of any problematic cycling on and off. If you notice issues, you may need to recalibrate or update the thermostat."

Test the Unit

Once you have cleaned everything and tested the thermostat, Belavus recommends turning on your air conditioning unit to test how well it actually runs. "Listen for any odd sounds and make sure that cool air comes out of the vents," he says. "If the air is warm or you hear or smell something out of the ordinary, set up an appointment with an HVAC contractor for air conditioning repair."

Call a Professional

Even if your system is in top shape, annual maintenance is the best way to ensure it works properly for years to come. "HVAC contractors can service your system by cleaning and tightening components and inspecting for signs of early trouble," Raviv says. "Staying ahead of maintenance is a preventative measure that will save time and money and ensure you're not stuck without AC in the middle of summer."

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