Although almost as common as a dime once was, air conditioners are sophisticated pieces of equipment. They require regular servicing in order to perform at optimum levels. That way, they use less electricity and the space is cooler too. During a maintenance inspection, a technician should attend to these ten things:
1. Confirm the refrigerant is at the right level
2. Remove any surplus to a separate container
3. Top up the refrigerant if there is not enough
4. Check for any leaks causing this discrepancy
5. Make sure the thermostat is accurate
6. Measure the airflow through the evaporator coil
7. Test for leaks in any ducting system
8. Check the operating system is working correctly
9. Visually examine electrical connections
10. Lubricate electric motors and check belts
Critical Air Conditioner Maintenance Tasks
Air Conditioning Coils
Condenser and evaporator coils accumulate dirt. This restricts airflow, and prevents the coils from absorbing heat. The state of the condenser coil is evident during visual inspections. Removing vegetation within two feet of it is the best way to keep it cleaner. However, some dismantling is usually necessary to reach evaporator coils. Take care not to bend the aluminum cooling fins.
Air Conditioner Filters
Air in conditioning systems passes through filters. These trap floating particles that might otherwise irritate respiratory organs. Over time, this dust begins to clog the filters themselves. This has the effect of slowing airflow and reducing system efficiency. The rate this happens depends on the frequency of use. It’s essential we replace non-reusable filters with like-for-like, in order to retain the balanced design.
Evaporator and Condenser Coils
As mentioned, these are quite delicate. A carelessly positioned hand, or a tool dropped accidentally can flatten quite a few like a row of dominoes falling. When this happens, the air no longer flows as the designer intended. This impedes the smooth operation of the air conditioning system, which no longer works as efficiently. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to bend evaporator and condenser fins back. Some air conditioner suppliers sell spacers they call ‘fin combs’.
Clearing Condensate Drains
Condensate is the moisture that drips from an air conditioner as it does its work. The system cannot work properly if it backs up. If we don’t keep the inside of the pipes clean, algae and mold may thrive in the moist atmosphere, and eventually block the pipe. An insect can also build a nest if the system is idle for a while. The net result is water dripping in the house, as opposed to outside.
Door and Window Seals
If our home is not fairly air tight, then we do not receive the full benefits of our air conditioning system. If we leave a door or window open, it faces the unenviable task of attempting to cool the earth. Hence, a visual inspection of door and window seals is essential once a year. Remember to check where the air conditioner interfaces with the window or the wall.
In theory, this work is within the skill set of the average handy person, provided they understand the working principles, and have the right tools. Most folk find it easier to call a licensed expert. That way, they can keep doing the things they really want to do.
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