Now that spring is finally here, you'll be turning off your furnace and getting ready to fire up the air conditioner. These tips will help you prepare your HVAC system for regular use throughout the summer, so you and the other members of your household can stay cool and comfortable when the temperature rises.

Change Your Filter

The air filter for your HVAC system cleans all air that flows through the ducts, preventing pollutants and contaminants from damaging the internal parts of your air conditioner and furnace. Air filters need to be replaced at least every 3 months, so if you used your furnace for the majority of the winter, it's time to put a new air filter in your system.

To locate the air filter, check the area where the return air duct feeds into the blower. If you can't find the air filter, check with your owner's manual for the specs. Air filters are available at home improvement centers and hardware stores. To replace the air filter, turn off the HVAC system and slide out the old filter. Take the old air filter to a hardware store and use that to buy the replacement. Once back at home, put the new filter back in the compartment and turn the system back on.

Get a Tune-Up

Spring is a slow season for HVAC repair, so it's a good time to schedule planned maintenance with a reliable repair person. When performing your tune up, your HVAC repair person will check the wiring, test the thermostat, lubricate the parts and inspect the ducts for air leaks. He or she will also check the coolant levels and make any recommendations for repair.

Performing this type of maintenance ensures that your air conditioner will be prepared for the coming summer, and will also ensure that your furnace is still functioning properly after the long winter.

Clean Your Condenser

The inside of your condenser can get very dirty in the spring. Debris from blooming trees, freshly cut grass and branches from pruned shrubs can all end up collecting in the area around the condenser. To mitigate the effects of this lawn waste, rake the space around the condenser every time you mow.

Toward the middle or end of the spring, clean out the condenser. Use a fin comb to remove any larger pieces from the fins, then clean the inside of the condenser. To do this, cut the power to the HVAC system, then remove the top of the condenser. Use a vacuum to suck out the bits of crushed leaves and other pieces that might be caught inside the unit, then spray inside with a hose to wash out any gunk that might be clinging to the coils.

Following these tips on an annual basis will help you keep your air conditioner and furnace performing at their peak throughout the heating and cooling seasons. Click here for more information on HVAC planned maintenance.