An air conditioner is so common in the twenty-first century home that we barely even think about it anymore. But we should. Even if it looks like a simple white box, an AC takes some care and maintenance.
Neglecting the coils, filters, and fins will bring you significantly lower efficiency while kicking your energy bills up the charts. For some tips on cooling down that are not so AC-dependent, check out this helpful article.
Meanwhile, here are some tips on how to properly care for your air conditioner.
Caring for the coils
There are two coils to think about: the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. Both are prone to collecting dirt particles, especially if the filters are not clean and properly maintained. We will cover filters below in a minute.
You should make sure to check up on your evaporator coil once each year and give it a thorough cleaning. You should also keep an eye on the outdoors condenser unit, especially if there is dust or greenery in the area. Common sources of accumulating debris include falling leaves, dryer vents, and especially lawn mowers.
To make sure the air flow around the condenser is not obstructed, remove all debris and thoroughly clean the area around the coil, and cut back any foliage to at least two feet away (that is 0.6 meters).
Caring for the filters
There are basically two types of filters: reusable and disposable. Reusable ones should be cleaned every month or two, and you should be especially rigorous about it during the cooling season. If you leave the AC switched on more or less constantly, if you have pets in the home (especially ones that shed their hair or molt), or if the environment is dusty, the filters will need some extra frequent attention.
Make sure to routinely clean your unit’s filters, or to replace them regularly. Dirt clogs them and prevents air from flowing normally, which can render the AC basically useless. Moreover, if any air manages to get around the clogged filter, it will likely carry dirt into the unit’s evaporator coil, which will effectively insulate it with a cake of filth and drastically reduce its capacity for absorbing heat.
Also, dust and dirt may be carried on the AC output air current into your space, which is a health hazard. To learn more about how airborne dust affect your health, read this bulletin by the World Meteorological Organization: https://public.wmo.int/en/resources/bulletin/airborne-dust-hazard-human-health-environment-and-society
Some typical places where the filters are located, other than in the air conditioner itself, are in ceilings, walls, or furnaces. If you have a room AC, the filter will be in the grill which faces into the room. If your air conditioner is a central one, look for the filter somewhere along the length of the return duct.
Caring for the fins
The fins on condenser coils and evaporator coils are made of aluminum, which means that they are easily bent out of shape and can present a blockage to the flow of air. To get them back in place, use a “fin comb” to move them into their original position. This tool is available in wholesale with anyone who deals in air conditioner units.
Window seals and condensate drains
If you allow a condensate drain to become clogged, your unit will become unable to reduce the humidity in your space. Moreover, the accumulated moisture will discolor your walls or your carpet. Get a piece of stiff wire and run it through the drain channels every now and then.
The seal between the AC and the window frame is easily damaged by moisture, so inspect at the start of each cooling season. It has to make solid contact with the AC’s metal case, otherwise the cool air will escape your house.
Calling the pros
Even with dedicated regular maintenance, your AC may need professional help. Make sure you opt for a reliable expert, like FurnaceUSA, to avoid scams and double costs.
A legitimate technician will ask about and check the following: refrigerant amount, refrigerant leaks, oil motors and belts wear, central seal duct leakage, airflow level, cool-heat electric control sequences, and thermostat accuracy.