Air Conditioner Maintenance
Everyone enjoys a smoothly functioning air conditioning unit, but we often forget that our HVAC units, like any other machine, require regular care.
Regular cleaning and maintenance of your A/C unit not only adds length to its life but also enhances its productivity. It’s important to understand what happens to the components of your air conditioner when regular air conditioner maintenance are ignored for too long. Here are five reasons why you should clean and maintain your air conditioner regularly.
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Dirty filters and condensers damage performance
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that having a clean filter can improve an air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%. In addition, if the filters are clogged with dust, there is a good chance that the A/C’s evaporator coil and condenser might also be collecting debris from the dirty air passing through the filters. Eventually accumulation of dust will prevent the evaporator coil from absorbing heat and will hamper the ability of the air conditioning unit to properly cool the air. Regularly cleaning or replacing filters will avoid this problem.
For outdoor A/C condensers you should check regularly for overgrowth of foliage, excess moisture or dirt. Vegetation should always remain trimmed to at least 2 feet away from the unit for air to flow adequately around the condenser. Similarly, the drain channels through which the water from the A/C unit passes should also be monitored for clogs and cleaned regularly. Keeping up with cleaning all these components of your A/C will help you keep your unit operating at peak performance.
Mold can grow in dirty ducts
The good news is that most of the time ducts do not need cleaning. However, if, though regular inspection you find that they are harboring mold, dirt and debris you may want to clean the entire unit, and not just the ducts, as mold can be a serious health hazard.
Duct cleaning requires specialized tools, so you’ll want to call a professional for help. The process involves agitating and dislodging the accumulated dirt in the ducts and getting them airborne before drawing them out using a powerful vacuum cleaner. The process has to be done meticulously or it can cause damage to the system.
Bent coil fins and clogged condensate drains are bad news
The evaporator and the condenser in your AC unit have coils that are easily bent, which will then hinder airflow. It’s a good idea to check them regularly for damage. There are “fin combs” sold by HVAC wholesalers that can be used to comb the bent fins back into their original shape and restore proper airflow.
Condensate drains in AC units need to be unclogged occasionally. You can use a long, stiff wire to pass through the drains to clean them. If the drain channels are clogged the system will not be able to reduce moisture. This will lead to excess humidity, which can actually lead to discoloration of walls and furniture inside your home.
Lack of weatherproofing leads to air leaks
If you have a room air conditioning unit, inspect the seal between the unit and the window frame at the beginning of each season. Be sure that the frame makes secure contact with the unit’s metal case and there are no gaps. If there are any openings or if moisture has damaged the seal, the cold air will escape from the room, hampering the cooling process and costing you more money.
Through the cooler months when the AC unit is not being used, it should either be covered with waterproof material or removed and stored in a secure, dry area. If you choose weatherproofing, ensure that the covering is fastened tightly to protect the unit from harm caused by exposure to weather and debris.
Professional HVAC technicians offer the most thorough care
Air conditioning units will get the best possible care in the hands of professionals. Hiring a professional service technician for the regular upkeep of your AC will save you time and money in the long run. A qualified technician will take care of the following items in regular air conditioner maintenance checks:
- The technician should check that the unit has the correct amount of refrigerant.
- Using a leak detector, s/he should check the refrigerant for any leaks.
- The technician should adequately clean up and remove all the leaked refrigerant, if any. Dumping leaked refrigerant into the environment is illegal; disposal should be handled appropriately.
- The technician will check the ducts for any leakage and seal them.
- S/he should measure the airflow through the evaporator coil and check the belts for tightness and wear. The technician should ensure that the electric control sequence is working properly. This ensures that the heating system and cooling system do not operate simultaneously.
- The technician should ensure that the electric control sequence is working properly. This ensures that the heating system and cooling system do not operate simultaneously.
- S/he should inspect the electric terminals, clean, and tighten the connections. They will also apply a non-conductive coating, if necessary.
- Your tech should also check the thermostat for accuracy.
Regular air conditioner maintenance will increase its longevity and enhance its performance. It will also keep you from having to face hefty repair bills due to damage to the unit caused by lack of air conditioner maintenance. There is no downside to giving your units the care and attention they need. A little regular effort can end up saving you a lot of money, time, energy, and hassle.