A home or buildings air conditioner requires regular maintenance to function efficiently and effectively. Without maintenance, an air conditioner’s energy consumption steadily increases. The main parts to check and clean are the air conditioner’s filters, coils, and coil fins. An air conditioning system operates on a pressure to temperature relationship. Airflow passing through the fan, over the evaporator coil and over the condenser coils plays a major part in this relationship. Reduced air flow caused by dirt buildup causes higher temperatures and higher pressures that throws the system out off balance impairing its’ operation. Regular cleaning and maintenance extends the life of parts and helps to avoid inconvenient breakdowns.
Air Conditioner Filters – the most important aspect of maintenance to ensure energy efficiency. Plugged, dirty filters can significantly reduce the systems air flow and increase energy costs 5-15 %. Air conditioner filters are primarily there to protect other important parts that cool the air, from becoming dirty. Filters in central air conditioners are usually located in the return ducting, or in the air conditioner itself; in room air conditioners, the filter is usually in the front of the air conditioner behind the grill. For reusable filters, wash with warm water (add some liquid detergent if necessary), let dry, and put back in. Disposable filters are just exchanged for new ones.
Depending on conditions (pets, dust, traffic, etc.), check and maintain your air conditioning filter every 1-2 months in the months that the system operates.
Before working on an air conditioner, unplug it, or disconnect power to the unit.
Air Conditioner Coils – an air conditioner has 2 coils, and evaporator coil, and a condenser coil. They collect dust and dirt over time. Even with a clean filter, an evaporator coil is going to get dirty over time. This layer of dirt will insulate the coil, reducing its’ ability to absorb heat. Check evaporator pads and clean as necessary yearly. Check with your home hardware stores to get the right cleaner such as “Coil Cleaner”. Be careful not to get electrical wires wet.
Condenser coils, typically outside, are exposed to the environment. Debris, dust, etc. collect on the fins of the coil. Clean the coil, and the area around the coil (leaves, litter, etc.) at least 2 feet back to allow for proper air flow. Cover in winter to protect from weather and debris.
Air Conditioner Coil Fins – the fins of the coils can become bent, which blocks air flow through the coil. You can get a tool from wholesalers, or larger retailers, that called a “fin comb” that combs fins back into their original straight position.
Condensate drains are the units drain channels. Clogged, they will stop a unit from reducing humidity. The excess moisture and humidity will affect windows, wall coverings, etc. A stiff wire can be run through the drain channels to prevent this.
For room air conditioners located in a window, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window to make sure that the seal is tight and isn’t letting cooled air out.
After cleaning and maintenance procedures have been carried out, reconnect the power and test the unit. Set to cooling and put to a low temperature to get the unit running. The discharge air should be cold and smell fresh.
Note that an air conditioning system is a sealed system and once professionally and properly installed should not leak unless damaged by being hit by something. Therefore it is not necessary to check or recharge the refrigerant levels in an air conditioner on a regular basis.
For a thorough check of your air conditioning unit, hire a professional. Some maintenance that you might defer to a professional to oil motors and check belts, check and repair ducts for air leakage, check refrigerant levels, measure air flow through the evaporator coil, and check the electrical system.
If you have any questions about the cleaning or checking of your air conditioning, please call one of our Ram Cleaning specialists at 403-291-1051
Complete cleaning and maintenance care in Calgary and area since 1967
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