15 Air Conditioner Maintenance Steps
By Steven De Nazareth
Updated: June 14th, 2019
If you keep your air-conditioner in top notch condition, then it would help save you money on energy and increase the lifespan of the machine. This is sure to save you money on a costly replacement. All you have to do is ensure that you do some regular cleaning and maintenance. In this manner, the main thing that you can work on is to extend the life of your heat pump or HVAC unit.
Since the summer months are here, it comes as a no brainer that air conditioners would be used all-the-more to keep your family comfortable. It would really disheartening if your air-conditioner decides to take a vacation on you and your family.
This change in weather can adversely affect your health, energy levels and your sleep patterns. It could cause you to get seriously ill or reschedule your life to have to adjust with this discomfort. Also, you would have to shell out of your monthly budget to fix this problem and it would only get worse in time. The key is to understand the problem and figure out how you can fix your air-conditioner as soon as possible. This is typically a problem which should not be shot down regardless of the amount of inconvenience it causes.
Ways to Maintain Your Air Conditioner This Summer
Here are fifteen ways in which you can help maintain your air-conditioner:
1. Learn About the Air-Conditioner
When it comes to air-conditioners, they are made up of mostly two major parts: the outdoor unit or the compressor and the indoor unit or the evaporator. While the compressors sits on the outside of your home, the evaporator is located in the central duct near the furnace. Here, you would have to use the owner’s manual to determine how it works and the major parts involved. But, if you come to think about it, the basic parts will remain. Take time, read up on the issue and then take up the task only if you are confident that you have the right man to complete the job.
2. Clean and Tidy
One of the most important things of air-conditioner maintenance is to ensure that it kept clean. All you have to do is to vacuum the AC fins and further clean it with a soft-bristle brush. Since its fragile, it can be easily bent or crushed. For several units, you would have to unscrew and lift the metal box to get at the dust. But before you go ahead with cleaning, you should take a look at the owner’s manual for directions. At the same time, you should lift off the box carefully to avoid bumping the fins. Don’t forget to scrub the crud off a small room air-conditioner by using a simple plastic bristle brush and a foam cleanser.
3. Repairing a Sinking Air Conditioner Pad
If you notice that the air-conditioner pad is sinking, then this is a real wake up call. The concrete pads beneath the air-conditioners and the heat exchanger units could sink over the years.Since there is no strain on the copper coolant tubes, electrical lines, the unit stays dry and level and to some extent it is OK that the pad has sunk. You should know that if it continues to sink and pulls at the lines or there are puddles of water around the AC unit, then you need to take action to arrest this problem at the earliest.
4. Fitting a Programmable Thermostat
Choose a programmable thermostat that works on the state of the art air-conditioner technology. This is something most homes should have based on the current state of technological developments in the market today. Also, with a programmable thermostat, this would ensure that the temperature is set at different times of the day and this automatically lowers the temperature at various times of the day and manages to cool without constantly monitoring the dial.
5. Attach an In-Line Duct Booster
When it comes to forced air-cooling, if there’s a room that hotter than the rest, then a duct or vent or booster fan will help. This is based on the amount of cool air that can be brought into the room. The forced air cooling would help reduce the stillness in the air by adding to the flow of cool air in the room. There are two types of booster fans in the market. The first is the in-line duct booster fan which fits inside the duct of the room that you would like to cool. If you mount the fan near the outlet and it automatically kicks on when the cooling system runs. Here the vent and register booster would replace the ceiling, floor or wall registers. This depends on the model which would run automatically and the control with a switch or operate it by remote control.
6. Fix a Noisy Air Conditioner
Do you have a new condenser that is making a terrible noise? This could be because fans on the newer units are usually quieter. For this repair, you would have to connect with the manufacturer to find a solution. They should be able to find a sound blanket for your model, otherwise you would have to opt for a universal blanket. The installation is easy and you should note that its makes no point putting a blanket on an older unit.
7. Mend Fins
You should realign bent or crushed fins using a little pressure with a dinner knife. Remember that you should not insert the knife more than half an inch. These fin combs work perfectly for separating bent fins on a small room air conditioner. You should wear gloves to protect your hand from getting cut.
8. Clean Out the Condensate Drain Tube
If you see that water is puddling around the furnace with the AC on, then you would have a clogged condensate drain tube on your hands. These AC coils contain bacteria which form slim and clog the condensate pan drain tube during condensation.This is why you need to remove the clogged particles in the drain tube and ensure that your AC does not leak and that it gives you a constant supply of cool air.
9. Filter Replacement
Filters are used to keep the air sweet smelling and it keeps dust and other particles that would mess up the otherwise clear air. In order to change the filter, you should power off the furnace at the main panel. After the air-conditioner is switched off, you should pull out the furnace filter and review if there is a buildup of dirt. This should be changed when required.
10. Is Your AC Unit the Right Size?
Your AC unit is carefully sized to the amount of cubic feet that it has to cool. This is immensely important when you are purchasing a new AC unit or renovating your home. In case, you AC unit is rated for a smaller space then you are sure to have it work harder to cool air. Otherwise, it will wear out more quickly and this would take more time and more power to meet the demands of your thermostat.
11. Choosing a Whole-House Fan
While a whole house fan helps cool homes, its basic design is simple and this is where it enhances the whole-house fan. Here the attic-mounted fan would push the hot air out through the attic vents and draws cooler outside air through the open windows and doors. The quick air exchange with large fans would ensure that a home full of hot air would be removed with the built up heat and it would create a pleasant flow of cool breeze.
12. Fight Heat with Windows
Since a lot of heat enters the home through windows, this is especially so with open windows. In case, you really want to control the heat in your house then you need to pay attention to your windows. This means that you need to keep them closed and cover the blinds with drapes during the hottest parts of the day especially the windows which face the sun during most parts of the day. In this way, you would be able to fight heat that comes into your house through windows.
13. DIY Troubleshoot Repairs
You might take a chance to work on the air-conditioner when you have to wait for days on end for a HVAC repair technician to show up. This would mean that you would have to shell out several hundred dollars for the repair. But, if you are comfortable with working around electricity and good with your hands, then you can spend $50 on parts and this would be repaired in less than two hours and save you a bunch of money and labor.
14. Look for Air Leaks
You should look at closing all the windows in your home and turning off the fans, exhaust fans and shutting off the furnace. All you have to do is light some incense and walk around slowly around the outer walls of your home. At any point of time, if you notice that smoke blows away from something or that it is being sucked towards something, then you have a problem. This would probably be an air leak. Summer is the best time to repair these leaks. Apart from these leaks you would have to pack up your air conditioner unit after summer and cover it with a plywood which is weighed down.
15. Replacing a Fan Belt
This is among the easiest repairs that you can make. If a fan belt wears down, then a technician should simply take it off and add a new one in place. This is usually a small part that is usually available and a part which is inexpensive in the HVAC world. If a fan belt is broken with a squeaky noise in the AC, you should be careful while replacing it. Constant maintenance would ensure that you detect a broken fan belt so you are not stuck without air-conditioning issue due to a faulty part.
Bonus Tips on AC Maintenance
1. No air comes out of registers
Since there is no air that comes out, the fan on the outside unit may not be running. There is an easy fix to this problem and it typically means that the breaker is tripped and needs to be reset. You may notice another easy problem which is the blower belt and this can be easily replaced. Other causes include a problem with your thermostat, wiring or control board. Another common reason is that your condensate pump reservoir is full.
2. Air Conditioner Does Not Switch On
Here if an air-conditioner won’t come on is due to the problem with the thermostat. You need to set up your thermostat to cool and reduce the temperature setting. Here you need to check your electrical panel for a tripped breaker or a blown fuse. Also, you need to check for issues in power supply by looking at the wires. This means that you have to check your furnace power switch and thermostat for any issues.
3. Air Conditioner is Not Cooling
If your air conditioner is running but not cooling then you should know that this is a common problem. This could raise a series of potential causes, be it a dirty air filter, low refrigerant level or a blocked condensate drain. Also, you can check for ice around the coils or a dirty outdoor compressor. Don’t forget to add more coolant to your system. This is simple as it can be too hot outside to cool your home to your liking. Also, air-conditioners can cool about 20 degrees lower than the outside air temperatures.
4. Low on Refrigerant
Air Conditioners which do not cool properly as they are low on refrigerant. This leads to an undercharged or a leak that has to be looked in. Don’t forget to look for leaks before adding more refrigerant since problems with the leaks would persist. In the process these leaks would be harmful to the environment if it not fixed.
5. Air Conditioner Blows Hot Air
What’s worse than an air-conditioner blowing hot air? This could be very irritating and cause problems with the dirty air filter which can cause air flow problems. You need to verify if the outside unit is running and check to see if there are leaves or other debris obstructing the airflow. Another issue is that your air-conditioner could be low on Freon.
6. The Compressor Does Not Run
The compressor does not run on a burned wire or a defective start capacitor or a defective compressor. This means that you should adjust your refrigerant charge, clean the condenser coil, check the capacitor and adjust the compressor or replace it.
7. The Air Conditioner Does Not Switch Off
Though it is extremely hot outside, your air conditioner would turn off eventually. Though an air conditioner runs continuously it can indicate a problem with the fan. You need to turn the thermostat fan to the off position to check if you can stop it. This is also a good time to check the refrigerant level and relay switches.
8. Unit Turns On and Off Continuously
In most cases, an air-conditioner that switches on and off several times repeatedly signal a problem. Most likely, the condenser unit id dirty or blocked and may also have a dirty evaporator. You should check both for obstructions and clean the entire air conditioning unit to clear debris.
9. AC Coil is Frozen
The frozen coil means that air conditioners work overtime while the house stays hot. You should check for airflow problems with dirty air filters that obstruct the return air duct work. Also, don’t forget to check your refrigerant level and the blower fan which could be malfunctioning.
10. AC Unit Trips the Circuit Breaker
Does your air conditioner trip the circuit breaker constantly when it comes on? This means that you have a weak breaker that needs to be replaced or need to have the compressor properly grounded. Here, you condenser fan motor can be shorted or it could lead to a defective capacitor.
11. Unusual Odor Coming From Unit
At times, there is an electrical odor that comes from overheating parts like blower motors or seized bearings or even loose electrical connections. Also, this could be due to restricted airflow that causes electrical overheating where you replace your air filters. The burning odor will be caused by debris in the duct work or at the unit.
Appliance Maintenance and HomeWarrantyReviews.com
Your HVAC proves to be expensive if your system is faulty and requires repair with visits from the serviceman. With today’s lifestyle air-conditioners cannot be termed as a luxury and have in turn become a part of our day to day life. This makes it difficult to find a knowledgeable repairman that trusts to sort out the issue. The simple solution would be to buy a home warranty which is in the range of $300 to $500 based on your plan. These plans include the maintenance of either appliance or systems or both that are covered by your home warranty company. But, before you venture out and buy a home warranty, there are certain things that you need to know about before you invest in one. Once you have a clear understanding of what a home warranty covers, then you should choose one among the top ten home warranty companies to get the best plan for your family.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below and we will be happy to help you out with the buying process.
Heating and Air Conditioning equipment, no matter what kind you have, should be inspected, cleaned, and serviced at least once a year. The best scenario is to have the heating system checked in the Fall and the air conditioning checked in the Spring.
Heating and cooling professionals say that even if you do not suspect that your air conditioning unit has problems, you need to have it serviced and inspected at least once every year. This will ensure that it operates at maximum efficiency. It will be ready to cool the house in the months when you require it most.
An air conditioner’s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.
Some repairs, such as fixing a refrigerant leak, will cost anywhere between $200 and $1,500. Smaller problems like fuses and circuit breakers will run between $50 and $200. Depending on the HVAC model you have, a new thermostat can cost between $80 and $300.
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