Nine times out of ten, simply turning on the air conditioning unit after months of being idle will not cut it. Leaves, dirt, and other debris can accumulate throughout the winter and clog your unit, at the very least resulting in inefficient cooling. Prepping your HVAC unit is an easy process, and should not be skipped in the interest of immediate relief.
First, clear any and all debris (grass, branches, errant toys and yard implements) that may have accumulated on or around the unit: these can potentially obstruct airflow through the condenser unit. Use a rag or vacuum to clear all dirt from the outside of the unit as well as the fan blades.
Change the filters as needed. Three months is the average life of an AC filter; however, you may need to replace them more often if enough dust has built up. This is easier than it sounds, and a crucial step in the process, as dirty or malfunctioning filters are then most common reason behind inefficient HVAC performance. Checking the insulation in your attic is also a crucial step to preventing inefficient cooling. Inspect the ducts carefully and repair any cracks or leaks with metallic foil tape. It may be necessary to replace sections of insulation along the ducts as well.
Regardless of how well you are able to prep your unit, obtaining an inspection by an HVAC professional is not a bad idea. They are familiar with structural standards and codes, and are experienced at sniffing out issues like microbial infection and moisture imbalance. This will ensure that your unit is running smoothly and keeping your home or business cool all summer long.