How to “Spring Air Conditioning Maintenance” Yourself? (Part 2/4)
Step 1: Clean the condenser
It is recommended that you clean your outdoor unit on days with a temperature of at least 60°F. That’s about the minimum temperature at which you can test your air conditioner to make sure it’s working. The condenser is usually located in an unnoticeable spot around your house. Two copper tubes run towards it, one open and the other encased in a foam sleeve. If you have a heat pump, both tubes will be covered by foam sleeves.
Your primary job here is to clean the condenser fins. The condenser fins are fine metallic blades that surround the unit. Dust, debris and all sort of dirt accumulate in the condenser fins thereby blocking the airflow, reducing the unit’s cooling ability and subsequently reducing the efficiency of the air conditioner.
Step 1.1 Turn off the power
Make sure that you switch off the electrical power to the unit before carrying out any cleaning activity in the air conditioner. Switch off the electrical power to the condenser unit at the outdoor shutoff. This can be done by pulling out a block or by moving the switch to the off position. If are not clear on how to do this, turn off the power to the AC at the main electrical panel.
Step 1.2: Vacuum away debris
With a soft brush, remove all grass clippings, leaves, papers and other debris from the exterior fins which reduces the performance of the air conditioner. All grasses and bushes within the vicinity of the air conditioner should be cleared away. Note that the fins should be cleaned with a soft brush due to its fragility.
Step 1.3: Straighten fins
Using a dinner knife, realign bent or crushed fins with gentle pressure to prevent it from breaking. Don’t insert the knife more than 1/2 in.
Step 1.4: Remove the fan
Lift out the fan by loosening the top grille. Then carefully set it apart to prevent the electrical wires from cutting. Clean the interior surfaces with a clean and damp towel.
Step 1.5: Clean the fins
Spray the fins using moderate water pressure from a hose nozzle. Direct the spray from the inside out. Then reinstall the fan.
Note that you will have to unscrew and lift a metal box to access the fins. Carefully do this by looking at your manual guide for directions. Peradventure you find a fin that is bent, straighten it with a blunt knife. But if the bending is not a minor one, it is advisable to buy special set of fin comb to straighten them. In cases whereby large amount of fins are crushed, call a pro to straighten them. SantaAir has been providing professional services to its clients in Raleigh City, NC State for years. So, if you need Air Conditioning Service, call in immediately.
Then unscrew the fan to gain access to the interior of the condenser. Do not completely remove it because its wire is connected to the unit. You will also need someone’s assistance to help you hold the wires while you clean up the debris from within.
After you might have hosed off the fins, check the fan motor for lubrication ports. Most new motors have sealed bearings and cannot be lubricated. If there are ports in yours, add five drops of electric motor oil. It is not advisable to use penetrating or all-purpose oil as they can destroy the bearings. If you have an old air conditioner, you might have a belt-driven compressor in the bottom of the unit. Look for lubrication ports on this as well. The compressors on newer air conditioners are completely enclosed and won’t need lubrication.
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