By doing regular maintenance on your air conditioning system, you’ll extend the life of your equipment. You’ll also be keeping it’s efficiency as high as possible. Many people opt to do their own maintenance, while other hire professionals to inspect and maintain their system throughout the year, season by season.
If you’re interested in taking care of your own maintenance, here are some things you should be doing.
- Change the air filter every 3 to 6 months. This varies depending on family size, in-home pets, if you open doors and windows often, etc. Anything that creates more dust, pollen, and hair, clogs up your filters faster. By keeping your filters replaced and clean, you’ll have sufficient airflow through the cooling coil, which keeps up the capacity of the air conditioner. You’ll also keep the coil clean by changing filters. If you let them go too long, the dust is pulled thru the filter and begins to clog up the coil. Cleaning the indoor coil is much more complicated than simply changing your filters as you should.
- Clean your condenser coil. Depending on how clean the air is around your home (in terms of dust, dirt, cottonwood, etc) you may need to clean your condenser coil 2 or 3 times in a year, but more likely it just needs it at the start of the cooling season, and maybe again later on if there has been a lot of cotton wood recently floating around. And when you mow and weed-eat, do not sling clippings into the coil. This just plugs it up, and a dirty condenser coil creates excessively high pressures, reducing capacity, reducing life span, and possibly resulting in the unit tripping out on a hot day via thermal overloads. And the condenser fan motor also doesn’t like the excess heat, so keep that coil clean!
- Unit capacity check – make sure your liquid line isn’t too hot, and your suction line is very cold. These are the 2 lines that are typically accessible at the outdoor unit. Some units may be piped differently, so be sure you understand what your refrigerant lines are supposed to feel like, and check on it yourself. You can also measure the temperature drop from the return air to your indoor unit, to the supply air coming from the registers. Ideally, for most systems this is 18 or 20 degrees. However, this number may not be that high if it’s really humid or hot in the space, or if it’s excessively hot outside you also may not get a full 20 degree temperature drop. But as long as you log this information, you can compare it to previous readings season after season, and you’ll start to learn the trends of your specific unit.
- More advanced inspections include checking for hot spots across contactors, measuring and checking the start and run capacitors, checking voltage and amp draw on your indoor fan and your condenser fan, oiling any motors that require it, checking system pressures, measuring system superheat and sub-cooling levels, and getting an amp draw on the compressor. These items should only be done by a professional, as you will be dealing directly with live voltage and pressurized refrigerant.
So if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, there are some items above you could probably handle yourself. Anything that requires a professional, you can hire us (or anyone you want) to take care of for you. Or you could hire it all to be done by professionals. Either way, by doing this maintenance on a seasonal basis, you can reduce the number of system failures and prolong the life of your equipment.