Maintaining your air conditioner

image An air conditioner’s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance
for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years
of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline
in air conditioning performance and efficiency, while energy use steadily increases. This will result in a steadily increase in cost to operate your air conditioner. Your heating and air conditioning system is one of the most expensive appliances you have in your home. And just like your car, your home comfort system has crucial parts that need to be professionally maintained and tuned-up on a bi-annual basis.

 

DIY air conditioner maintenance

It is recommended to have a professional service your HVAC unit before each cooling season, however there are a few do-it-yourself air conditioning repairs you can do yourself. Replacing and cleaning the indoor unit’s air filter every month is an easy DIY item for any homeowner. Check your owner’s manual to make sure you are cleaning it appropriately. You should also occasionally remove any debris from around the outside condenser unit to maximize airflow.

Additional DIY air conditioner repairs may include cleaning the coils and fan blades at the start of the cooling season. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual to see how to properly clean these parts, and remember to shut off the power to the unit before performing any maintenance.

AIR CONDITIONER FILTERS

image The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%. Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air conditioning system’s filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house.

AIR CONDITIONER COILS

image The air conditioner’s evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins.To avoid this problem, have a professional check your evaporator coil and condenser coil every year and clean it as necessary.

CONDENSATE DRAINS

imageCondensate drains are possibly the least glamorous and most ignored component of a central air conditioning system but nevertheless, a most important part. A clear drain channel helps the unit to reducing humidity from the air, excess moisture may discolor walls or carpet. Keeping the drain clean is important because a clogged drain allows harmful contaminants like mold, mildew, virus and bacteria to grow in the drain line. Condensate overflow pan drain blockage: dust and debris also accumulate readily in a condensate overflow pan where it can flow to and block the opening to the overflow pan’s independent condensate drain line. If a blockage occurs here, the condensate overflow pan may not do its job of preventing condensate spillage into the building.

 

Ducts

imageIn houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.

How do you know that your home has poorly performing ducts?

  • you have high summer and winter utility bills;
  • you have rooms that are difficult to heat and cool;
  • you have stuffy rooms that never seem to feel comfortable;
  • your ducts are located in an attic, crawlspace, or the garage;
  • you find tangled or kinked flexible ducts in your system.

Refrigerants

imageThe importance of adjusting your cooling
system’s refrigerant charge and airflow is
similar to the importance of tuning up your
car. A properly tuned system gives better
performance and is more efficient to operate.
A refrigerant charge and airflow tune-up on
your cooling system can improve energy
efficiency, comfort, and economy, as well as
extend the lifespan of the system.The potential benefits of correcting refrigerant
charge include lower operating cost, improved
comfort, faster cool down, and greater
longevity of equipment. Low levels of refrigerant indicate a leak which is both an environmental and operational hazard. Compressor failure and many other system problems result from low or no Freon.

 

Continue to: Maintaining your Furnace