Spring cleaning is on everyone’s to-do list, but you should also consider adding air conditioner maintenance. To help you get started, here’s an 8-point checklist for AC cleaner evaluation.
Make sure that the power is off before starting any maintenance tasks. A dirty indoor coil can reduce efficiency and lead to higher energy bills. Check for bent fins and clean the coils if necessary.
1. Check the Filters
Most AC units have a filter that helps trap dust, pollen and other airborne particles in your home. This is especially important for people with allergies or respiratory issues, as it significantly reduces the amount of allergens that circulate in the home. However, this filter can become dirty very quickly and needs to be checked and replaced on a regular basis. You can buy reusable filters that you can wash in the sink or disposable ones that you throw away with your trash. Before installing a new filter, make sure it’s the right size and that it fits securely into place. If it’s not, air may bypass the filter and reach the inside of your unit where it can lead to biological growth and poor performance.
A clogged filter can also cause the system to work harder than necessary, resulting in higher energy bills. The air quality can suffer, as well. In some cases, the accumulated dust can cause odors and trigger mildew and mold. This can create unpleasant and unhealthy indoor air.
When dealing with a clogged filter or other maintenance needs, considering a professional air conditioner cleaning service is an option. Such services specialize in ensuring optimal filter performance, addressing issues that may lead to biological growth, and enhancing overall indoor air quality. Regular maintenance from experts can prevent problems, improve energy efficiency, and contribute to a healthier living environment.
2. Check the Evaporator Coil
The evaporator coil is responsible for absorbing heat/humidity from indoor air before it’s circulated throughout your home. As the evaporator coil absorbs heat, it also cools the air. This air then passes over the condenser coil, which releases that heat outside. This process relies on clean coils in order to function properly. Dirty coils can significantly reduce the efficiency of your AC unit, leading to higher utility bills.
There are several ways to clean your evaporator coils, depending on how dirty they are. A simple solution of a mild detergent and water can work well in many cases. However, for dirtier coils, there are a number of commercial cleaners available that can help get the job done quickly and easily.
These cleaners are often safe to use with plastic drainage components, and are designed to be blown on the coils in a way that doesn’t cause them any damage. This method of cleaning typically works best on light amounts of dirt, but should be followed by a thorough wiping down.
3. Check the Blower
The blower is the vital part that pushes air throughout your home. This means it needs to be inspected and cleaned regularly too. This helps to ensure air moves well, reducing energy bills.
The most common problem with your AC blower is that it’s clogged with pet hair, dust and debris. The resulting weak airflow can cause a domino effect on the rest of your system, leading to expensive repairs and inefficient cooling.
The best way to prevent this is by putting in place an annual cleaning routine that covers the filter, evaporator coils and blower motor. You should also make sure to clean the blower grills and ductwork regularly to prevent build-up of dirt and muck. You should also listen to the noises your blower makes as they can be a warning sign of problems. Any unusual sounds like squealing or screeching could indicate that there is a belt or bearing issue. Getting these problems fixed promptly keeps your blower running efficiently and saves money on repair bills. It’s also a great way to spot air leaks in your house and seal them up.
4. Check the Vents
Air circulates throughout your house through the vents, which is why it’s important to keep them clean. Dirty AC vents can cause a variety of problems, including decreased indoor air quality and straining your HVAC system.
In addition, mold, dirt, pet dander, and other allergens can build up in the vents over time, causing allergies and respiratory issues in your household. Dirty vents can also become breeding grounds for pests, such as rodents and spiders. Regular cleanings can prevent these hazards from spreading and creating a safer, more comfortable living environment.
Another important thing to check is the vent’s temperature. This can be done by pointing an infrared thermometer at one of the supply vents and measuring the temperature. Ideally, the temperature should be 15 degrees warmer than the air temperature. If it’s cooler, the vent needs to be cleaned. This can help improve airflow, reducing the amount of work your HVAC system has to do and cutting down on your energy bills. It can also reduce the risk of a clogged vent, which is a common problem that can lead to serious AC failures.
5. Check the Ductwork
An air duct system helps to circulate air throughout the house, and it is important that it is clean. A dirty duct system can harbor contaminants like dust, mold and pet hair. It can also be a source of leaks.
If the ducts are not sealed correctly, up to 30% of the heated or cooled air can leak out before reaching the registers. A duct pressure test can help determine how tight the seals are and whether it is time to replace them.
The ductwork should be examined for damage and leaking areas. It is recommended that homeowners use a duct cleaning service to do this. A reputable company will seal the ducts after they have been cleaned and will be sure that no holes are left open.
The air ducts should also be checked for the presence of asbestos. Asbestos was once commonly used in ducting, but it is now known that long-term exposure can cause health problems. It is important to know if the ducts contain asbestos before purchasing a home.
6. Check the Compressor
Whether the compressor is hermetic or open, it’s important to check its voltage and current levels on a regular basis. This helps ensure that the motor is operating at a safe level and prevents excessive wear on other components in the system. To do this, simply use a multimeter set to DC mode and connect one of its leads to the grounding wire connected to the compressor relay under the hood. This should read 0 volts if the compressor is in good working condition.
You should also use the same technique to check the line voltage and current of the compressor motor. Make sure the voltage is within the manufacturer’s recommended limits and that the running current is below the maximum allowed amperage.
Remember to always shut down the compressor, disconnect it from power and bleed any pressure before performing maintenance or repairs. Also, be sure to check that the compressor is rated for the amount of pressure it will be used at and always follow all safety standards when using an air compressor.
7. Check the Electrical Connections
Loose electrical connections are one of the top reasons for AC failure, so it’s vital to check them when performing an evaluation. A pro will inspect all of the wiring, terminals and contacts for looseness and rusting. If they are faulty, it can disrupt the communication between the thermostat and the contactor, which may prevent it from turning on at all.
In addition, the disconnect box is examined to ensure that it works correctly and enables safe maintenance and repairs. It’s also verified that the system is properly grounded, which reduces the risk of electric shocks.
Finally, the drip pan and drain line are inspected for blockages. A clogged drain line can cause water leaks and even emit a strong odor, so it’s important to clear them regularly to avoid problems. The safety switch that controls the overflow is also inspected to make sure it’s working properly. If it’s not, it needs to be replaced immediately. This is a simple, yet important task that can often be overlooked. The best part is that it only takes a few minutes to do.