Making sure that your air conditioning unit is regularly cleaned and maintained saves you money and guarantees you a long lifespan of your air conditioner. Maintaining your air conditioner regularly does not only save you money on used energy but will also save you the cost of replacing it because its life will be extended.
The ventilating, heating and the air conditioning system consists a furnace and air conditioner or a heat pump that does the heating and cooling of the room. The interior units of both have a blower and evaporator while the exterior units have a compressor and a condenser.
Simple Easy Steps to keep your air conditioning unit running smoothly
✔ Shut off the power
Since an air conditioner uses electricity and its parts often moves, it is always recommended that you should turn the power off when not using it. Turn the power indoors at the breaker box and on the shut-off box near the unit located outside.
✔ Remove debris
Remove the fan cage located on the exterior compressor or condenser by using a screw driver to remove all fasteners. Lift the cage from the unit’s top surface then use your hand to clean the leaves and all debris inside it.
✔ Clean the fins
Remove outer covers and clean them with a brush attached on the vacuum so as to remove all dirt that has built up outside. Always use a gentle stream from a hose by spraying through inside the fins in order to remove all dirt that has built up between them. A pressure washer is not recommended since it can damage them. A fin cleaning spray is always available and you can use it to particularly clean the fins.
✔ Straighten the fins
Always straighten them using a butter knife or a fin-straightening tool to avoid reduction of air-flow hence increasing efficiency. Make sure to do it gently to avoid causing any damages.
✔ Clean the unit’s surroundings’
The fan cage should always be replaced after cleaning is done. Make sure that the leaves at the back are raked together with the debris placed outside the condenser. For proper air flow in the unit then make sure to cut vegetation and branches back at least two feet in all directions. Always cover the top of the unit during winter season because the condenser is not always used with either plastic or plywood so that debris will not fall into it.
Covering the sides completely though will lead to moisture building up and all of inside might be corroded or vermin building up their nests in it. Do not cover it when it is operating.
✔ Level the unit
The pad which the condenser unit is put on may start to tip causing soil to settle under it which may cause failure of the compressor. Make sure to always check the level of condenser and if need leveling then use shims that are rot-resistant.
✔ Clean evaporator coil
This is always placed inside the furnace or the blower. Remove some screws and foil duct tape through the evaporator coil door to give you space to dust inside it by using a soft brush and to spray it with no-rinse coil cleaner. Clean the drain pan using hot water, soap and some bleach since foam from the spray often drips into the drain pan. Replace the evaporator coil door and then re-seal it with a foil duct tape when need be.
✔ Clean the plugged evaporator drain
Warm and humid air gets blown through the evaporator coil from the interior of your home. The coil being cold absorbs heat from air then cools it before circulating it back into the house. Humidity in the air will then condense as liquid water on the surface of the evaporator coil hence dripping into the pan placed below which will then flow into a drain tube at the basement of the drain.
Algae and mold will possibly build up hence plugging the drain which may damage it and will need to be unplugged as the drain may stop flowing or may be flowing at a very slow pace.
You will need to find a drain line that encloses the evaporator coil and follow it outside to where it drains which is usually near the condenser unit although it might sometimes drain into basement floor or utility sink and in some such as attic units it drains down a wall placed outside it.
Upon doing that, use a dry or a wet vacuum in clearing the drain. To avoid ruining the filter make sure you always remove the paper filter from the vacuum before using it. The vacuum hose should be held to the end of drain line by holding a rag around the gap or using a duct tape. After that, you can then turn the vacuum off for at least 3 minutes in order to clear any biological matter that may be growing in the drain.
✔ Change the power filter
It is always recommended that you change your HVAC system’s filter twice a year specifically before the start of heating or cooling seasons. If the area you live in is very dusty then you will be required to change it regularly. When replacing it, make sure that the new filter’s airflow rate is similar to the older one for effective functioning. Air purifying poses the danger of reducing airflow in the system by causing the freezing of indoor coil which you need to be very careful with.
Use a screw driver in turning the latch in order to open the door to access the filter enclosure situated inside the furnace through which fresh air return duct passes to the unit for easy location of the filter. Make sure when replacing the older filter with the new one the air flow direction arrow in the filter matches with the ones in the unit. You can then close the door and latch it.
✔ Turn back the power on
Upon the completion of the above steps, then your air conditioning system is clean and good to go. Turn it on when you want to use it. In this case it can be able to function efficiently with the air flow flowing at a higher rate cooling the room faster since there are no blockages that may cause air to flow at lower rate or fail to function at all.
Regardless of the above steps helping you keep your air conditioning system in good shape and running well without any interruptions there are some maintenance that must be done by HVAC professional technician. In a case where your AC system refrigerant’s leaks slowly then the compressor will greatly fail to function and tools and the skill to look at it may be something you may not have hence requiring a professional to do the repair. For proper functioning of the system then the ducts must be clean and the air flow be effective but this may not be possible as you may not have the necessary equipment to constantly check on them. Although as a homeowner you can carry out some maintenance it is recommended that you consult an expert to check the working of the air conditioning system.
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