Air conditioning is an absolute must during the hot, summer months. Yet most homeowners are unsure as to how these machines work. Do not be intimidated by the complexity of your air conditioning system. With a little bit of knowledge, you can perform some preventative air conditioning maintenance that keeps the cool air flowing throughout the duration of the summer. Let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you prolong the life of your air conditioning system.
Before you begin analyzing the “small stuff”, it is important to turn off the power to the system. Turning off the power will ensure your safety as you perform some fairly simple and quick air conditioner maintenance tasks.
Check the Evaporator
Take a look at your air conditioner’s evaporator. You will find it above the furnace in the area known as the “plenum”. If you can easily access the evaporator, clean it out on a regular basis. A thorough cleaning at least once per year is ideal. Remove the foil from the front of the plenum, take off the screws and lift off the plate. Wipe away dirt, dust and any other build up from the bottom side of the evaporator with a brush.
Clean the Condenser Unit
The air conditioner’s condenser unit should also be cleaned. You will likely find the condenser unit on the outside area of your home. Most condenser units end up gathering dirt, debris and other particles as they move across your yard. Grab a coil cleaner, flush the coil and allow it to dry. You can clean off the condenser’s fins with a brush. Finally, inspect the condenser’s concrete padding. If you find that it is no longer sitting on a level surface, it could pose problems down the road. Do what is necessary to make it level until you can devise a more permanent solution.
Check the Freon Level
The typical air conditioner requires the coolant called “Freon” to create cool air. Air conditioners that lack Freon will not be able to cool your space. Make sure that your system has ample Freon. If you suspect that there is a problem with your air conditioner’s Freon, reach out to a professional HVAC technician for assistance. While it is possible to replace the coolant lines that have worn over time on your own. Just be sure to adhere to the guidance provided in the manufacturer’s instructions.
Replace/Clean the Filter
Remove the air conditioner’s grill at the beginning of each summer. Replace it or clean off the filter. Be sure to check/replace the filter at least once per month. If you live at a particularly high elevation that receives a considerable amount of wind, dust and/or sand, you should clean/ replace your air conditioner’s filters more frequently than others.
Clean the System’s Fan
Take a close look at your air conditioner’s blades to determine if they are dirty or loose. If you spot residue or find that the blades aren’t tight, be proactive and address the problem. Open the cabinet and locate the fan. Use a cloth to clean off the dirt. Determine if the fan blade along the motor shaft has loosened. Use an Allen wrench/screwdriver to tighten it. Finally, if the fan contains oil ports, use a few drops of 20-weight non-detergent motor oil at the start of the summer to help the system operate at its peak efficiency.
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