Arizona’s climate doesn’t take it easy on air conditioners. The best way to make the most of your investment is to extend the lifespan if your air conditioning system with regular, scheduled maintenance… and who better to turn to than R and R Refrigeration?
The weather is heating up fast, and soon your air conditioning will be straining to its limits. How long has it been since you’ve has a professional out to service and maintain your system? Having it done now could prevent and expensive (and uncomfortable) time later!
Just like your car, your air conditioning system is a complicated machine that needs to run regularly and without question, whenever you need it. Unlike your car, though, your sir conditioner is expected to run 12 or even 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all summer long! Just as your car needs regular maintenance to perform at its best, your air conditioning needs at least annual maintenance to do its job reliably and efficiently.
Know your air conditioner – its components, and the maintenance they need
Many parts of an air conditioning system should only be examined and maintained by professionals. Attempting to do so yourself could result in damage to the unit, the release of harmful chemicals into the environment, or even injury to yourself or your family.
However, there are a few essential maintenance tasks that you can attend to throughout the warm seasons to improve the performance and reduce the running costs of your AC.
The most important components from the home maintenance perspective are in the heat exchanger – the coils and fins which dump excess heat out into the outside air rather than back inside your home. You can do a lot to keep them clean and maximally effective with just a few minutes of work every few weeks. You can also change or clean the filters on most models themselves.
Tending to your AC’s filters
The easiest home AC maintenance task is also the one most commonly forgotten – cleaning or replacing the filters regularly. This is particularly important in Phoenix’s hot, dusty climate.
You see, the air handler of your central AC system blows air through a large, removable filter in order to pull dust, allergens and unwanted particles from the cooled air before blowing it into your home. This is a great feature, unless you forget to change the filters for a long time. The dust, dirt, animal dander, pollen and mold spores all build up to a thick cake on the filter itself, like the lint trap on your dryer.
If this goes without cleaning for too long, your air handling unit has to work harder to move less air through your home, and more of the very material the system was designed to catch is forced through anyway. The upshot is that replacing or even just cleaning a clogged filter could reduce the power it takes to cool your home by 10% to 15% – which quickly adds up!
Most central air conditioning systems have a filter located near the furnace or air conditioner, but they can be placed in the return duct, or in the walls or ceilings. If you can’t locate your filters, R and R will be happy to help, and perform an entire duct inspection. Odds are, if you haven’t been cleaning the filters, you’ll need it.
Whether you should replace or clean your filters depends entirely on your air conditioning system. Some types use reusable, cleanable filters, while other kinds must be replaced each time.
You should replace or clean your filters every month, or two months at the most, for that part of the year in which your AC is generally on. If you live in a particularly dusty are or if you have one or more furry pets, you’ll have to do it even more frequently for best results.
Looking after the air conditioner’s coils
Your AC has 2 essential ‘coils’ – the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. Both can become dirty or literally coated with dust over the years, and both work most efficiently when clean. This is because the coil’s job is to dump or absorb heat, ad the dust forms an insulator (like a blanket) then prevents heat from flowing efficiently.
Your evaporator coil is located on the inside of your home next to the air handler, and should be checked at least once each year, and cleaned (carefully) if it is dusty or dirty.
Your condenser coil is located outside the home, and is prone to being covered in dust, leaves, pine needles, or other environmental debris. If you see this, carefully clear the debris and spray off the coil, being careful not to damage the delicate fins.
We also recommend trimming shrubs, bushes and other plants so that there is at least 2 feet of clearance around the condenser unit itself.
Caring for your coil fins
Both the evaporator and condenser coils are covered with thin aluminum fins to increase their surface area. These can become bent even with a casual touch, and this can reduce airflow over the coil. It is possible to purchase what is called a ‘fin comb’, which allows you to carefully un-bend the fins, restoring proper air flow.
Be careful here, as it is easy to damage the fins or the coil itself. If you are not completely confident, it might be best to call in a professional rather than damage or destroy an expensive piece of equipment!
Maintaining the condensate drains
Water occasionally condenses on the evaporator coil inside your home. There is a channel beneath it intended to carry this away to a drain, but this channel can become clogged. This channel or drain can often be cleared with nothing moe tha a stiff wire or un-bent coat hanger.
Getting ready for winter
Yes, winter even comes to us in Arizona!
If you have a window-mounted AC, it may be best to remove it for the season. If you have a central AC system, you should cover the external unit until spring.
Hiring a Professional
There are quite a few parts of your air conditioning system that really do require professional maintenance. Having a service technician out once a year can prevent a host of problems, and save you money by avoiding emergency call-outs later.
Call R and R Refrigeration today at 602-942-8996 and we’ll schedule a service call for you right away.