Air Conditioner Maintenance Services
By keeping your air conditioner well maintained you not only keep it running efficiently, you will extend the lifespan of the equipment. The best time to perform air conditioner maintenance is the beginning of each cooling system. This way you will ensure your system is operating at its optimal efficiency.
Here are some tips that a homeowner can follow to help keep their AC clean and operating well. Because it is dangerous to work around electricity and the air conditioner’s moving parts, it is very important to shut off the power to the outdoor unit, either at the outdoor electrical disconnect, the indoor breaker panel, or on both.
The main thing that a homeowner can do is keep the outdoor portion of their air conditioner clean and make sure there is plenty of room around the unit for air to flow freely. Keep all leaves and debris raked away from the unit. Make sure that mulch has not built up around the bottom. Many times shrubs or other landscape plantings will grow over the years and block proper air flow. Prune these each year to give your AC at least 18″ of clear space on all sides.
To cover or not to cover, that is the question! We often get asked if the air conditioner should be covered in the winter. If you want to keep debris from falling into the unit, you may put something just over the top, but we don’t recommend putting a cover over the whole unit. If the unit is covered on all sides, moisture can build up inside and cause corrosion. It is good to allow air to reach the unit to keep this from happening. Also, a covered air conditioner is a nice home for mice and other vermin to build nests in the winter. We have seen air conditioners with a large build up of rodent nests, nuts, and acorns. A cover encourages these pests to move in for the cold weather.
You can take a garden hose and gently rinse off the outside of the coils. As the air conditioner is operating, air is pulled in through the sides and expelled through the top. Pollen, cottonwood fluff, dandelion clocks (fluffy part with seeds), and other debris, may be pulled in with the air. When this happens, the debris clings to the coils and causes a build up. This build up greatly decreases the efficiency of the unit. Check your unit several times during the operating season and rinse off any accumulated debris.
Once you have completed cleaning the outdoor portion of your air conditioner, don’t forget to turn the power back on.
You can also rinse off the inside of the coils and remove any debris laying on the bottom of the unit by carefully removing the fan cage on the top of the unit. You must be extremely careful when cleaning around anything on the inside of the air conditioner, so as not to damage anything.
Cleaning and maintaining the indoor coil is not so easy. The coil is either in a case itself, or in the plenum, which is most like above your furnace, or in the case of a downflow furnace, it would be below. If your indoor coil needs cleaning, you need to have a service professional come to your home and do the cleaning. If you try to do it yourself, you risk needing a costly repair. The best way to keep your indoor coil clean is to keep your filter clean and in place at all times. Any dirt that gets through the filter and passes over the coil, can easily stick and over time cause a large buildup of debris. The coil becomes damp when running in the summer, as it is cold and the humid air passing over it causes the moisture in the air to collect on the coil. A build up of debris on the indoor coil greatly reduces efficiency and air flow.
Westin Air offers a spring air conditioner tune-up. At this time, a technician would clean your outdoor unit and carefully check many important parts of your air conditioner, along with checking refrigerant levels. At this time, the unit wiring is checked for loose connections, relays, contactors, and capacitors are inspected and tested. Voltage and amp draw is also tested. As you can see, many of these items are things that the normal homeowner cannot do themselves. For these reasons, many of our customers choose to get on our annual maintenance plan. This gives them peace of mind that their AC will be ready for optimal performance in the cooling season. For more information on our maintenance plans, click here.