In Johannesburg, maintaining your air conditioner will not only save you money on power, but it will also extend the life of your unit, saving you money on costly early replacement.
Air conditioner maintenance is important for energy efficiency, comfort, occupant health, and overall unit function.
When an air conditioner is working properly, it removes excess moisture from the air and keeps people comfortable. Mold development can be worsened by filthy air conditioners or malfunctioning systems, triggering allergies and asthma attacks.
The best time to put these suggestions into action is just before the start of each cooling season. Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system will consist of a furnace and air conditioner, or a heat pump that both heats and cools. Both versions have an internal unit (evaporator and blower) as well as an external unit (condenser coil and compressor). These guidelines apply to a whole-house air conditioner or heat pump.
Turn off the power.
Because working around electricity and the moving elements of an air conditioner can be dangerous, it’s vital to turn off the power to the device completely. Look for an exterior shut-off box on the exterior condenser/compressor near the unit. Inside the house, turn off the power at the breaker box as well.
Turn off the electricity to an exterior HVAC unit at the shut-off.
Turn off the power to the inside at the breaker box.
Debris should be cleaned up.
Remove the condenser/external compressor’s fan cage. Remove the bolts using a screwdriver or wrench, and then remove the cage or fan grill from the device’s top. By hand or with a wet/dry vacuum, remove leaves and other dirt from the interior.
Fins must be free of debris.
Remove the external coverings and vacuum all outside dirt with a shop vacuum with a brush attachment. Then, from the inside out, use a garden hose to spray through the fins to remove any built-up dirt or debris. The fins should never be cleaned with a pressure washer since the pressure can harm them.
If the fins are extremely dirty, use a commercial fin cleaning spray available at home improvement stores. Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
A vigorous spray from a garden hose can be used to force debris from the inside of the condenser unit out.
If the fins of an HVAC unit are severely dirty, a commercially available cleaning may be necessary.
Straighten the Fins and Clean the Area
Because any loss in airflow through the fins may reduce efficiency, gently straighten bent fins with a butter knife or a commercially available fin-straightening tool. Make sure the tubing that runs through the fins isn’t damaged.
Clean the area around the unit.
When you’re finished cleaning the fan cage, replace it. Rake back leaves and rubbish outside the unit and cut back branches and plants at least two feet in all directions to preserve proper airflow around the condenser. It’s a good idea to cover the top of the condenser with plywood or plastic while it’s not in use during the winter to prevent debris from falling in. However, do not completely cover the device’s sides because moisture can collect inside and lead to rust. Furthermore, a completely covered container encourages rodents to build nests within. Remove any coverings once the device has been turned on.
Change the Unit’s Level
The pad where the condenser unit sits can tilt as earth settles beneath it. A compressor can fail prematurely if the condenser unit is out of level. Check to see if the condenser is level, and if it isn’t, level it out with rot-resistant shims.
Cleaning the Evaporator Coils
It’s now time to go inside. On the inside of the blower/furnace unit, locate the evaporator coil door. A few screws or nuts, as well as some foil duct tape, may need to be removed. Inside, dust the coil with a gentle brush before spraying it with a no-rinse coil cleanser (available at home improvement stores). Before it drips into the drain pan, the spray foams up. Scrub the drain pan with soap, hot water, and a little bleach. Pour a cup of bleach/water 50/50 down the drain after that. To keep the drain clear for longer, place a commercially available drain pan tablet in the pan. This will stop algae from growing in the future.
If the bleach solution drains fast, skip to the following step. If not, move on to Cleaning the Evaporator Drain. Replace the evaporator coil door and reseal it with foil duct tape, if necessary.
Cleaning of the Evaporator Drain
The internal evaporator coil is blown with warm, humid air from your residence. The cold coil gathers heat from the air and cools it before returning it to your home. Moisture in the air condenses as liquid water on the evaporator coil’s cool surface, dripping into a pan below. The water drains from the pan into a drain tube, which is then sent to a basement floor drain, utility sink, or the outside.
Algae and mold can accumulate over time and cause the drain to cease working, so if the drain isn’t working or is moving slowly, it has to be unplugged. A clogged drain might cause flooding on the floor or, if the system is equipped with a drain float, it may compel the system to turn off the cooling to prevent flooding.
Locate the drain pipe that exits the evaporator coil enclosure to start. The drain is usually made of 1-inch PVC pipe (white, gray or black). It will drain if you follow it all the way to the bottom. The pipe normally drains near the condenser unit, but it can also drain into a utility sink or basement floor drain, or, in the case of attic units, down an outside wall.
Identify the drain and clear it with a wet/dry vacuum. Remove the paper filter from the wet/dry vacuum to avoid harming it. Connect the hose from the wet/dry vacuum to the drain line’s end. To close the gap, use duct tape or a towel. Before shutting off the vacuum, turn it on for 2-3 minutes. This will clear out any biological debris that has accumulated in the drain.
If necessary, change the Blower Filter.
The filter in your HVAC system should be changed at least twice a year, once before the heating season and once before the cooling season. If you live in a dusty environment, you may want to replace it more often. Replacing the filter with a new one with the same airflow rating as the old one is recommended. “Be wary of ‘air purifying’ or HEPA filters,” Moody cautions, “because they can dramatically reduce airflow in your system.” As a result of the reduced airflow, the interior coil may freeze.”
Look for the filter enclosure where the large fresh air return duct enters the furnace/AC on the interior. You may need to use a screwdriver to turn the lock on the filter enclosure door to open it. Replace the old filter with the new one, making sure the air-flow direction arrows on the filter match the directions on the unit. Close the door and secure it with a latch.
Reboot your computer.
While taking these steps may help keep your air conditioner in good operating order, some maintenance jobs are best left to a skilled HVAC contractor. A slow refrigerant leak in your air conditioner, for example, can lead to expensive compressor failure, but a homeowner lacks the tools and knowledge to check refrigerant levels. Clean ducts and sufficient ventilation are also required for a well-functioning system, but most homes lack the requisite equipment. So, what’s the gist of it? While a qualified homeowner may conduct some AC maintenance, it is still necessary to have the system inspected on a regular basis by a professional technician. Most air conditioning companies recommend having your system serviced twice a year: once in the spring before the cooling season and again in the fall before the heating season.
Maintaining it (the air conditioning equipment) in good operating order, like anything else, can extend its life and allow problems to be addressed before they become serious, or worse, an emergency. Instead, it is strongly recommended that you hire a professional air conditioning contractor to maintain your air conditioner on a regular basis. Contact us right now to receive up to four professional maintenance quotations.