With summer finally here, it's a good bet that we will be in for some warmer weather (or at least I'd like to think so) and that means it will soon be time to fire up the home air conditioner. Proper maintenance should always be done to maintain peak efficiency, prevent mechanical breakdowns, and save a few dollars on your hydro bill.
One of the most important maintenance tasks you can do to keep the efficiency of your air conditioner at its highest level is to replace or clean the filters. When a filter becomes clogged or dirty it blocks the normal flow of air and can reduce the system's efficiency dramatically. With the normal airflow restricted, air that bypasses the filter can contaminate the evaporator coil and impair the coil's heat-absorbing capacity. By simply replacing a dirty or clogged filter you can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5% to 15%.
Filters for central air conditioners are usually found along the return duct's length. These can be found in ceilings, walls, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself. Room air conditioners will have their filter mounted in the grill that faces into the space being cooled.
Filters are available in a many types and efficiencies, some are reusable, and some will need to be replaced. Clean or replace your air conditioners filter or filters every month or two during regular use. You may need to change them more frequently if you have pets or the unit is subjected to very dusty conditions.
Each year you should inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes proper contact with the unit`s case. If the seal becomes damaged from moisture it will allow the cool air to escape.
Drain channels should be cleaned occasionally with a stiff wire. If the drain channels get clogged excess moisture may discolor the wall or carpet.
Bent aluminum fins on the evaporator and condenser coils can block airflow through the coil. A tool called a `fin comb` can be purchased to bring these fins back to near original condition.
Air Conditioner Coils
Over the months and years of service an air conditioner's evaporator coil and condenser coil will collect dirt. By using a clean filter you can prevent the evaporator coil from getting dirty so quickly. The evaporator coil will in time still collect dirt. This dirt reduces the airflow and collects on the coil, minimizing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this, check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary.
Try and minimize the dirt and debris near the condenser unit. An overly dusty environment, dryer vents, loose foliage, and lawn equipment can all be potential sources of dirt and debris. Cleaning the area around the coil, removing any debris, and trimming foliage back at least 2 feet will allow for adequate airflow around the condenser.
When Do You Need A Professional?
If your air conditioner needs more than just regular maintenance, it's time to hire a professional.
A properly trained technician should:
- Verify that the refrigerant is at the proper levels
- Measure airflow through the evaporator coil
- Test for possible refrigerant leaks with a leak detector
- Any refrigerant that is leaking should be captured from the system, not illegally released into the atmosphere
- Check for and seal duct leakage in central air systems
- Make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously and verify the correct electric control sequence is working
- Inspect the electric terminals, tighten and clean any corroded connections.
- Check all belts for tightness and wear and lubricate motors
- Verify the accuracy of the thermostat
If you need professional service, please feel free to contact us!