Air conditioners are expensive and complicated pieces of machinery with moving parts and some hazardous materials (such as refrigerant). For these reasons, we’d usually advise against unqualified people getting too close to an air conditioning unit.
But, just as you top up the oil and water in your car, there are a number of things a user can do to make sure their air conditioner keeps running well. By regularly checking your air conditioner you can prevent or delay needing a general AC repair.
- Checking and Replacing Air Filters
A dirty or clogged air filter will reduce the efficiency of the unit as the airflow will be impaired. An air filter protects the unit from dirt particles, so using a dirty filter will mean more dirt in the unit, which could cause damage to parts over time. The buildup of dust will make the need for a general AC repair more likely. It will also mean dirt particles aren’t filtered from the air and so the air blown back out of the air conditioning unit may still have dirt particles in it.
An air filter will need replacing regularly and is normally done during a service. However, you may need to change a filter more regularly. How regularly depends on how often you use the unit. If there are lots of dust particles in the air (if you have pets for example) or if you use a poor quality filter, you will need to replace the filter more regularly.
- Cleaning the Coil
Over time dirt can build up on the evaporator and condenser coils. Getting the dirt on both your evaporator and condenser coils will impair their ability to absorb and expel heat. When this happens your air conditioner won’t be able to cool air as efficiently, it will cost more to run and your parts will have to work harder to achieve the same air temperature.
Dirt is easy to remove, but you must use a specialized cleaner for the purpose. Check it at least annually, and make sure cleaner fluid doesn’t come into contact with electrical wires. Do the same with the condenser coil in your outside unit, if you have one.
- Protecting Outdoor Units from Dirt and Debris
You can reduce the need to clean your outside unit by making sure the area around it is kept clean. Outdoor units are particularly vulnerable as they are more likely to come into contact with dirt and other debris.
Always keep the area around your condenser unit clean and clear, cut back greenery, such as plants and shrubs, and remember leaves, pollen, etc. can clog your machine. Make sure there is at least a 3-foot gap between your unit and surrounding shrubs.
Although regular servicing should be carried out by a qualified technician, there are some simple maintenance tasks homeowners can do regularly to keep their systems running efficiently. These 3 simple tasks will help keep the air conditioning running well and reduce the need for a repair.