Before the heat of summer rolls in, you want to know that your air conditioner is ready for another season of use. Over the winter, your air conditioner has been sitting idle and may be in need of repair. Autumn leaves will often collect on your AC unit, and storms can gather water and debris. Your A/C unit may need some maintenance to get it running properly again.
The sealed refrigeration system in your central air conditioning unit is not something you should attempt to repair on your own. You should contact Air Conditioning Repair company in Raleigh or surrounding areas to book an appointment with an air conditioning repair professional. However, there are several things you can do yourself to clean and maintain your unit, to ensure it continues to operate efficiently from year to year, with minimal professional service.
Here are 7 tips to maintain your air conditioner:
#1: Always turn off the power.
When you want to do maintenance work on your central A/C, it is important to always turn off the power to the conditioner at the service panel. You will also need to turn off the unit from the disconnect box located near the unit.
#2: Clean and replace the filters.
At least twice a year you will need to clean or replace your filters. The filters will become clogged with dust and debris which will restrict air flow. Remove the filter and check the side of the filter to see if it is disposable or intended to be cleaned and reused. A clogged filter will reduce the efficiency of your unit and will cause the re-circulation of dust into your home.
#3: Protect the Condenser
A central air-conditioning system is made of two main parts: a condenser unit, mounted outside of your home, and an evaporator unit mounted on the air handler inside your home. The condenser unit is located in a metal box with sides that look like grills; inside you will see a large fan. You can prevent the accumulation of debris inside your condenser unit by using a condenser cover or a tarp to protect it during the winter.
#4: Clean the Coils
If debris, dirt, or water has entered your condenser system, you will need to clean it. The fan pushes air over the condenser coils which can become clogged with dirt, obstructing the flow of air. If the coils are clogged you will need to clean them in order to restore efficiency.
To clean the coils: First, remove the top and side panels from the condenser unit. Be careful not to pull on any of the wires connected to the fan. Second, use a refrigerator coil brush to gently clean the coils, being careful not to bend the fins or damage the coils. Then, you will need to vacuum the coils from the inside.
If you encounter stubborn debris, you can purchase a commercial coil cleaner, which can be sprayed on from the inside. Avoid spraying the fan or electrical components. Sometimes, a unit with excessive debris will need a blast from a hose with a trigger style nozzle. This process takes a lot of precision to not cause flooding, bend the fins, or get water on the electrical components. You may need to contact a professional to have excessive debris cleaned away.
#5: Clean and Maintain the Condenser
To keep your condenser in top shape you will want to perform regular maintenance on it. Remove any leaves or debris that has collected in the base and ensure the drain is clear. Wipe and vacuum the fan blades to remove resistance. Check for loose mounting bolts and tighten them as needed. If the fan motor has oil ports, you can apply lubricating oil such as WD-40. If any water has gathered in the unit, clean it up and ensure the unit is dry before restoring power.
#6: Check the Coolant Lines
The refrigerant tubes that run from the evaporator to the condenser are covered with foam insulation. This insulation helps to keep the line cool so it does not lose energy. If there are areas where foam is missing from the tubes, you can replace it. There are two options for installing foam yourself: a foam insulation sleeve or a foam insulation tape. The insulation sleeve has a slit down the side for easy installation while the insulation tape will need to be wrapped around the line in a spiral fashion.
#7: Carefully Restore Power
After performing maintenance on your air conditioner you will want to follow the correct steps for restoring power to the unit. First, ensure the unit is completely dry. Second, turn OFF the thermostat in your home. Then, turn on the power in both locations you turned it off from, the disconnect box and the service panel. Last, you will switch your home’s thermostat to COOL. Check that your unit is running properly.