DIY: Summer Air Conditioning Maintenance

DIY: Summer Air Conditioning Maintenance

Posted by
Ed Miller on Thu, May 28, 2015

air_filterAs temperatures in Florida start to rise with each passing day, it is difficult to imagine relaxing in your home without a proper working air conditioning unit or paying for an unexpected A/C malfunction when its scorching hot outside. The good news is that by conducting regular maintenance on your HVAC system you can keep it running efficiently throughout the long summer months and save money on expensive repairs in the long run. 

Air Filter Cleaning

It is extremely important to clean the air filter on a monthly basis. Cleaning your filter is easy to do yourself and most of the time you don’t need to call a professional. Just check the manual and you will figure out the best way to clean the filter. Some air filters need to be routinely cleaned, while other filters are disposable and should be replaced. If you are unsure which type you have, conduct a quick internet search for the brand to clue you in; however, it’s safe to assume that filters with cardboard frames are not meant to be reused. In all probability, you most likely will have to wash it. Make sure you let it dry thoroughly before putting it back into place, and be careful to never run your unit without a filter.

Unit Not Cooling and/or Heating

Many homeowners complain their units do not cool or heat their homes properly. If you have experienced this, here is what you can do. Set the thermostat of the unit to the air-conditioning mode and then lower the temperature. At this point the furnace should start working. If it does, you can rest assured the problem is not furnace-related. In case the fan doesn’t work, you should try to reset the furnace circuit breaker. This should do the trick. If this also doesn’t work, it is time to call in a professional to find out the problem and fix it. 

Condenser Maintenance

The outdoor unit, called a condenser, should be cleaned regularly to increase its efficiency and prevent breakdown. Because this unit is outside, it will usually pile up with dead leaves and other debris, blocking facilitation of proper airflow. To clean the condenser, follow the steps below:

  1. Clean your outdoor unit on a day that’s at least 60 degrees F. This is usually the minimum temperature at which you can test your air conditioner to make sure it’s working.
  2. Always begin by shutting off the electrical power to the unit. Normally you’ll find a shutoff nearby, however it may be a switch in a box.
  3. Start by cleaning the condenser fins, which are fine metallic blades that surround the unit to remove all debris that is blocking airflow.
  4. Vacuum the fins clean with a soft-bristled brush. Be careful since they’re fragile and can be easily bent or crushed. On many units you’ll have to unscrew and lift off a metal box to get at them. If you do find some fins bent, you can buy a special set of fin combs (from an appliance parts store) to straighten them. However, it is recommended to invest in a new blade.
  5. Then, unscrew the fan to gain access to the interior of the condenser. You can’t remove it all the way because it is connected to the unit’s central wiring. Hold it while you vacuum debris from the inside.
  6. Check the pan located under the unit and clean it as well. 
  7. Once a year, lubricate the condenser fan motor. This is only to be done if it has oil ports. Use a light oil that is non-detergent in nature. No more than 10 drops needed for each port. 

Trim the Surrounding Vegetation

Make sure there is no vegetation growing near the outdoor unit. This can obstruct airflow and hinder the functioning of the unit. You should cut away all vegetation around the unit. There should be about 2 feet of vegetation-free space around it. Also, if there is grass growing around the unit, be careful when mowing your lawn. Don’t let the grass clippings make their way into the unit. 

Compressor Maintenance

Cover the compressor unit located outdoors with a protective shade. This will drop the surrounding temperature by 5 to 6 degrees and ensure optimal cooling during summer months. It also will help you save money when cooling your home. 

To enjoy optimal heating during winter, cover the unit with a protective cover. Also, if the outside temperature dips below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, refrain from running the unit. Low temperature can damage the compressor. 

Vent Pipe Maintenance

When the hot indoor air comes in contact with the cold evaporator coils, it causes condensation that tends to drip. Typically, there are vent pipes to drain this condensation outside. This can result in proliferation of algae and bacteria in the vent pipes. This growth can block the pipes, causing the water to backup. Should that happen, it could cause the internal parts to rust and corrode. So, make sure the vent pipes are cleaned regularly. You can flush it out using a hosepipe and then should use chlorine bleach to disinfect it. 

Contact the trusted experts at Snyder Heating and Air Conditioning for more information on all of your HVAC needs. We provide a wide range of home comfort services, from repair and installation to maintenance and education. At Snyder, we believe putting the customer first is the key to our success..

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