You rely on your air conditioning system to keep your home cool and comfortable. Just like any other home appliance, your air conditioning unit is bound to give way to wear and eventually deteriorate leading to the development of mechanical problems. For your system to function efficiently, keeping a regular maintenance schedule is a priority. Proper attention to maintenance and service needs will keep your system running smoothly. By staying on top of system maintenance you’ll not only save yourself money, but you’ll avoid an unexpected breakdown during those hot summer months. Take a look at the quick tip guide to ensure you’re doing what it takes to keep your air conditioning system running smoothly…
When You Should Call a Pro
Anytime is the right time to contact your HVAC professional if you’re experiencing issues with your air conditioning system. Keeping your system running smoothly depends on proper maintenance and service needs. Some problems require the attention of a certified technician. An experienced HVAC professional will be able to diagnose the problem quickly and have the proper tools to get your system up and running safely. Mainteance Agreements will have you time, money, and hassles in the long run.
NOTE: We provide the following information to show you what goes into properly maintaining your HVAC equipment. We feel that if everyone does what they are best at and pays for other services, then life will be good! We feel that it’s in your best interest to always have a professional take care of your HVAC equipment. Professionals know the quirks and all makes and models. Nothing can replace this experience in keeping your HVAC equipment running at optimal levels.
How Your Air Conditioner Works
A central air conditioning system has two key components: An indoor unit and an outdoor unit – both work in tandem to keep your home comfortable year-round. The indoor unit is typically located near where your furnace filter is located. The unit consists of a coil box that contains an evaporator. This evaporator allows for the refrigerant – a cooling fluid inside the coil piping – to evaporate and absorb heat. Once the heat is absorbed from inside your home, it leaves nothing but cool air to be sent back into your home.
Subsequently, the outdoor unit is usually located in the rear or side of your house and it is where the heat from inside your home is dispersed. It contains the compressor, condenser coil and a fan. The heat absorbed from your home’s air is transferred to the refrigerant and then pumped to the outdoor unit. As this heat is absorbed and moved by the refrigerant to the outdoor coil, it passes through the compressor which has the primary job of moving the refrigerant throughout the system. This enables the system to keep reusing the refrigerant to cool the house. As the process completes, the heat from inside your house is dispersed to the air outside your house. The refrigerant is then pumped back indoors and the whole process repeats.
Why Does My A/C Need Maintenance?
Before the heat of summer sets in it’s a good idea to check your system for any problems or needed maintenance to insure that your A/C is in peak working condition when starting it up for the first time this season. By checking your system early, you can do simple repairs or call for service from a professional before the weather gets warmer. Waiting until the first hot day of summer to turn on your system could mean days of discomfort while you wait for repairs.
There are a few simple steps you can take to inspect the different parts of the system to be sure your air conditioning unit will work when you need it.
Begin with the thermostat in the “Off” position and with the temperature set around 80 degrees, then check the following…
- Look at the thermostat – Is it outdated? Start saving money and energy by installing a newer, programmable thermostat.
- Check exposed duct-work for wear – This could be a source of inefficiency in the home.
- Check air vents around the home – Be sure airflow isn’t blocked by draperies or furniture.
- Check the drain line – Flush one cup of chlorine bleach down your air conditioning drain and rinse it with a gallon of water. This can help to keep your drain clear through the summer.
- Change the air filter – Change the filter every three months and before the start of every cooling or heating season.
- Check circuits – To be sure electrical connections are on.
- Be sure the power is turned “On”– at the furnace/air conditioning unit.
How to Shut Off Your A/C Power
Turning off your air conditioner protects your equipment, but more importantly you. Always check to see if you’ve successfully turned off your system by attempting to turn heating and cooling on from your existing thermostat.
How to Clean Your Outdoor A/C Condenser Unit
- Next, check the outdoor equipment for wear and possible overgrowth at least once a year.
- Inspect the outdoor condenser unit – Check for any blockage in the equipment and clear the area around the unit. Leaves or debris can block the interior components and affect performance.
- Visually check the refrigerant lines – Be sure the lines are insulated. Proper insulation will improve the efficiency of the system. Repairs to the insulation or refrigerant lines should always be done by a professional.
- Check the outdoor electrical wiring for wear – If you see damage or wear, call a professional for service before using your system.
How to Level Your Outdoor A/C Condenser Unit
Compressors that are not level may fail to function properly. Adjusting or moving you’re A/C compressor requires extra caution as you do not want the refrigerant to leak or damage the equipment in any way. To ensure your unit is level step outside and take a look. Does the concrete slab below the unit look sound, or is it beginning to crack and slope? Check to be sure that any legs on the unit aren’t rusted or unsteady. Is the unit noticeably tilted? A slight tilt actually prevents water from collecting in the bottom. Anything more can cause severe damage over time. Never attempt to level the unit on your own as you risk bending the refrigerant lines and causing a leak. Even the slightest kink in the tubing can be disastrous. Additionally, the leveling process is not one size fits all; the exact fix depends on your soil quality and the degree at which your unit is tilted. Contact a heating and cooling expert to level it safely and effectively, providing a long-lasting fix.
How to Clean Your Evaporator Coil
When evaporator coils get dirty, they won’t be as efficient in providing your home with cold air or dehumidifying your home. Air that blows across the coils usually contains particulates, like dust and pollen that can cause your air conditioner to function at a reduced rate. Check your A/C owner’s manual to locate the access panel and evaporator coil. Be sure to turn the air conditioner off at the thermostat before you begin. Once you have access you can clean the coils with…
- Compressed air – removes light accumulations of dirt and other material.
- Brush cleaning can be a very effective technique for removing minor accumulations of dirt from evaporator coils.
- Commercial cleaners are available for cleaning evaporator coils. Most are a foaming type that breaks down and drains away into the unit’s drainage system. Consult with your trusted local HVAC contractor for suggestions on which cleaner would work best for your a/c unit.
- Mild detergents – in place of a commercial cleaner, you can use a mild detergent and warm water to clean the coils.
If your A/C evaporator coils are heavily soiled or are dirty enough to seriously affect air conditioner function, you should schedule a professional cleaning and maintenance appointment with your local HVAC contractor who can assess the job and use the right equipment.
What if Your Evaporator Coil Drain is Clogged?
One of the most common reasons an air conditioning pro is called is due to a clog in the condensate drain line. Simple maintenance, once or twice a year, can save you money and requires no special tools. Turn off your HVAC system before you begin.
- Locate cleaning port and remove the cap. If the unit has turned off due to a blockage, you may need a bucket to collect the condensation resting in the drain pan.
- Assess clog. If you can see the blockage, attempt to remove the blockage. Do not push if further away. Instead attempt to lift the blockage out of the drain pipe. If the blockage breaks, separates, and falls down the pipe do not be alarmed. It can be rinsed out with water.
- Slowly pour cleaning solution down PVC drain line. If cleaning solution fills drain line, do not continue to pour solution. If the cleaning solution does not flow out of the drain line, the blockage is still intact. This may be a sign that there is a larger block in the drain line. If the pipe fills and slowly drains, then repeat until cleaning solution passes without difficulty.
- Replace cleaning port cap and turn the system back on.
Changing Your Blower Filter
It’s important to make sure you replace your home air filters regularly. A clean air filter helps your air conditioning equipment to run properly and efficiently and ensures a long life. Follow you’re a/c unit’s maintenance guide for instructions.
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About Phoenix Comfort Systems
Phoenix Comfort provides a full range of air conditioning and heating repair, installation, and maintenance services for residential and commercial customers. We keep your air conditioning and heating systems in their best condition and ready to go when you need them most, following the industry’s “best practice” methods and standards. Phoenix Comfort carries a full line of quiet, energy-efficient air conditioning and heating equipment.
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