Greetings and welcome to the Air Xperts blog! Through this blog we hope to provide you with useful information and tips to help you stay cool, and perhaps save a little money in the long run. For our first topic, we would like to discuss that most fundamental of topics: air conditioning maintenance.
One of the most common causes of AC malfunction (often when it is needed the most) is poor maintenance. Even if the air conditioner doesn’t up and quit on you in the middle of a July heat wave, poor maintenance can cause those energy bills to skyrocket a bit higher than you would expect. In this article we will cover some basic do-it-yourself maintenance that will help extend the life and efficiency of your air conditioning system.
Before You Begin…
One critical point to remember before you do ANY maintenance on your HVAC system: shut down the power. Cutting power by the circuit breakers is the recommended approach, as this physically separates the unit from the power coming into the house. Confirm the AC is shut down before beginning work. If you do not take this important step, attempts at AC maintenance could result in serious injury.
Air Filter Cleaning and Replacement
The most common air conditioning maintenance task is to clean or replace your air filters. A dirty filter can reduce airflow, and reduction in airflow means your unit has to work harder to achieve the same results. Cleaning or replacing a dirty filter can increase energy efficiency by as much as 5 to 15%.
Filter location varies according to the type of system you are using. Consult with your user manual or the manufacturer to determine where the filter is. Manufacturer variances will also determine whether or not you can reuse a dirty filter. However, one commonality is that filters are relatively easy to remove and install.
Coil Damage Prevention
The evaporator coil is an essential part of the AC unit and must be kept clean. Your air filter will help prevent debris from getting in, but it is inevitable that some dirt will get in. To minimize the amount of debris that does manage to get inside, make sure the external AC unit is kept clear of debris. Trim any nearby plants and try not to allow plants, dirt, or other detritus near the unit.
If you maintain proper care of your unit, you should not need to clean your evaporator coil more than once a year, and is something that a routine AC maintenance package can easily take care of for you!
In spite of your best efforts, it is inevitable that some debris will get into the AC unit itself. Periodically remove the fan cage and clean out foreign matter that managed to make its way into the unit. This can include leaves, twigs, branches, and even the occasional animal next. The fan cage/grill can easily be removed with a screwdriver, though again – make sure the unit is disconnected from power before you begin.
Regardless of how much work you put into maintaining the air conditioner, there are some tasks that you cannot accomplish on your own and should be left to a trained professional. Scheduling routine maintenance with a local contractor at least once per year will help keep your air conditioning unit operating in tip top shape.