Let’s face it. If you live in Ventura County and it’s getting hot out enough that you need your AC, you really need it. Having your air conditioning unit break down during a hot month can be a truly unpleasant experience, not to mention expensive.
There are steps you can to take to ensure your AC keeps working for as long as possible. Without regular air conditioning maintenance, you’ll end up spending more money on repairs and replacement in the long run. You might even have to suffer days without air conditioning!
Regular maintenance also means you’ll have an AC that’s more efficient. It’ll work better and you’ll save money on energy costs. Furthermore, skipping routine maintenance can void your manufacturers warranty.
Use this guide to air conditioning maintenance to ensure your unit will keep running anytime you need it, especially when you need it most.
The Essential Guide to Air Conditioning Maintenance
Your home probably has an HVAC system, which is short for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning. There are a couple of different types of HVACs, but no matter which one you use it’ll have both an interior and exterior unit.
The interior unit will contain an evaporator and blower, while the exterior has a condenser coil and compressor. Both units will need your attention each year for maintenance. Now, we’ll walk you through the steps you’ll need to take.
1. Always Turn Off Power
Step one when doing air conditioning maintenance is always to shut off the power. Electricity runs through your AC unit, not to mention the moving parts it has, which means working on it with the power on can be extremely dangerous.
The exterior unit should have a shut-off box nearby. The interior unit can be turned off at the breaker box.
2. Get Rid of Debris
Take a screwdriver or wrench to remove the fan cage fasteners from the exterior unit. Removing the cage lets you access and remove debris from inside this unit.
Over the course of the year, dead leaves and other things will have worked their way into the unit. You can either remove these by hand or use a wet/dry vacuum to take care of it.
3. Spray Down the Fins
You can use a hose with good water pressure to spray off the fins inside the unit, removing the debris and dirt that has built up there. You can also buy a fin cleaning spray at your local home improvement store, but this is only necessary if there is a significant amount of dirt built up.
Avoid using a pressure washer, as the intensity is too strong and can damage your unit.
4. Fix the Fins
When the fins in your AC are bent or otherwise damaged, this restricts air flow and makes the unit less efficient. As a result, your energy bill can go up.
You can straighten fins with a butter knife, or you can buy a fin-straightening tool at a home improvement store. The fins are more delicate than they may look, so remember to be careful.
5. Clean Around the External Unit
Because the external part of your air conditioning system is outside, it’s exposed to more dirt and potential for damage.
After you’ve cleaned and repaired the inside of the unit, you can put the fan cage back on. Now, you’ll want to clean up around the external unit so that your work will last as long as possible.
Rake away leaves and other debris that has fallen nearby. Make sure that branches and plant life are cut back at least two feet away from the unit so airflow is maintained properly.
If you’re not using your unit in the winter, you may want to cover up the top so plant matter and debris can’t get in. A piece of wood or plastic in the right shape will do the trick.
Remember not to completely enclose the unit, though, since closing both the top and sides will trap moisture which can corrode your AC system. Enclosing the unit can also attract birds and rodents who might build their nests inside.
Remove the cover when you’re ready to use the unit again.
6. Make Sure It’s Level
Soil compresses, which can cause the condenser unit to become tilted. This can cause an early breakdown of your unit.
Check to see if your AC is still level and adjust accordingly if it isn’t.
7. Clean Internal Evaporator
The external AC unit is pretty much taken care of now, so you can turn your attention indoors. You’ll want to look at the blower/furnace unit in your house and locate the evaporator coil.
Dust the coil with a duster or a brush, and then use coil cleaner (also found at a home improvement store) to clean it. Follow the instructions on the cleaner.
You can also buy a drain pan tablet to help your drain stay clear below the evaporator.
8. Change Your Filter
Your blower filter needs to be changed twice per year. You’ll want to change it in the spring and fall before you need heat and AC. Check the airflow rating and be sure your new filter has the same as the old one.
The filter enclosure is found at the place where the fresh air duct enters the HVAC unit. Open the enclosure (you might need a screwdriver for this) and check the arrows on the filter to make sure they face the right
way for airflow.
9. Turn Power Back On
When you’re finished with all of the above, you can turn the power on again and start using your HVAC system like usual.
Air conditioning maintenance is essential for keeping your HVAC working and saving money on utility costs.
There are some things you might need a professional HVAC technician to do. If there’s a major problem, call a technician. It’s also a good idea to have one examine your system occasionally even if there are no problems just to be sure no extra maintenance is needed.
Doing this simple maintenance yourself goes a long way toward preserving the life of your system. A little bit of work now will save a lot of hassle in the long run. Start thinking about air conditioning maintenance today and how it can help you in the future.
Kaiser Air Conditioning offers a cost-effective maintenance program for residential and commercial air conditioning (AC) and furnace service needs. Our HVAC technicians will assist in protecting your investment through routine service to ensure your HVAC equipment operates in the most efficient manner for years to come. Call us today! (805) 988-1800