In Cape Town, maintaining your air conditioner not only saves you money on power, but it also extends the life of your unit, saving you money on costly early replacement.
For energy efficiency, comfort, occupant health, and overall unit performance, it’s vital to keep your air conditioner in good working order.
When an air conditioner is working properly, it removes excess moisture from the air, keeping people comfortable. Mold development can be worsened by filthy air conditioners or malfunctioning systems, resulting in allergy and asthma flare-ups.
The best time to put these tips into practice is shortly before the start of each cooling season. Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system will consist of a furnace and air conditioner, or a heat pump that heats and cools. Both versions have an inside unit (evaporator and blower) and an exterior unit (condenser coil and compressor). These instructions are for a central air conditioner or heat pump that serves the entire house.
Turn off the mains power.
Because dealing with electricity and the moving elements of an air conditioner can be dangerous, it’s vital to turn off the power to the device completely. On the external condenser/compressor, look for an exterior shut-off box near the unit. Inside, turn off the electricity at the breaker box.
Turn off the power to an exterior HVAC unit at the shut-off.
Turn off the electricity to the inside at the breaker box.
Debris should be cleared away.
Remove the external condenser/fan compressor’s cage. Remove the bolts with a screwdriver or wrench before removing the cage or fan grill from the device’s top. Remove leaves and other debris from the interior with a wet/dry vacuum or by hand.
Fins should be free of debris.
Remove the external covers and vacuum all outside dirt with a powerful shop vacuum and a brush attachment. Then, from the inside out, spray a gentle stream through the fins with a garden hose to remove any built-up dirt or debris. When cleaning the fins, never use a pressure washer because the pressure can damage them.
If the fins are particularly dirty, use a commercially available fin cleaning spray found at home improvement stores. Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.
With a strong spray from a garden hose, debris from the inside of the condenser unit can be pushed out.
If the fins of an HVAC unit are severely dirty, a commercially available cleaning may be required.
Straighten the Fins + Clean the Area
Because any loss in airflow through the fins could reduce efficiency, gently straighten bent fins with a butter knife or a commercially available fin-straightening tool. Make that the tubing that runs through the fins is not damaged.
Create a clean environment around the unit.
When you’ve finished cleaning the fan cage, replace it. Rake back leaves and rubbish outside the unit, and cut back branches and plants at least two feet in all directions to preserve proper airflow around the condenser. It’s a good idea to cover the top of the condenser with plywood or plastic while it’s not in use during the winter to keep debris out. However, moisture can collect inside the gadget and cause corrosion if the sides are completely covered. Furthermore, a completely covered container encourages rodents to build nests within it. Remove any coverings after the device is turned on.
Increase or decrease the unit’s level.
The pad where the condenser unit rests can begin to tilt when earth collects beneath it. The compressor can fail prematurely if the condenser unit is out of level. Check to see if the condenser is level, and if it isn’t, level it with rot-resistant shims.
Cleaning the Evaporator Coil
Now is the time to go inside. On the inside of the blower/furnace unit, look for the evaporator coil door. Some foil duct tape, as well as a few screws or nuts, may need to be removed. Dust the coil with a soft brush inside, then spray it with a no-rinse coil cleanser available commercially (available at home improvement stores). Before dripping into the drain pan, the spray foams up. Scrub the drain pan clean with soap, hot water, and a little bleach. Pour a cup of 50/50 bleach/water down the drain after that. To keep the drain clear for longer, use a commercially available drain pan tablet. This will keep algae from growing in the future.
If the bleach solution drains quickly, skip the following step. Otherwise, proceed to Evaporator Drain Cleaning. Replace the evaporator coil door and reseal it with foil duct tape if necessary.
Cleaning the Evaporator Drain
Warm, humid air from your home’s interior is fanned over the evaporator coil on the interior. The cold coil absorbs heat from the air and cools it before it is delivered back into your home. On the cool surface of the evaporator coil, moisture in the air condenses as liquid water, dripping into a pan below. The water drains from the pan into a drain tube, which is typically routed to a basement floor drain, utility sink, or the outdoors.
Algae and mold can accumulate over time and cause the drain to cease working, so if the drain isn’t working or is just moving slowly, it has to be unplugged. A clogged drain might cause flooding on the floor, or if the system is equipped with a drain float, it may compel the system to turn off the cooling to prevent flooding.
Locate the drain pipe that exits the evaporator coil enclosure to begin. For the drain, a 1-inch PVC pipe is frequently used (white, gray or black). It should lead you all the way to the bottom, where it will drain. The pipe normally drains near the condenser unit, although it can also go into a utility sink or basement floor drain, or, in the case of attic units, down an outside wall.
To clear the drain, locate it and clear it with a wet/dry vacuum. It is best to remove the paper filter from the wet/dry vacuum to avoid damaging it. Connect the hose of the wet/dry vacuum to the drain line’s end. To fill the gap, you can use duct tape or a towel. Before turning off the vacuum, let it on for 2-3 minutes. This will clear the drain of any accumulated biological debris.
If necessary, replace the Blower Filter.
The filter in your HVAC system should be replaced at least twice a year, once before the heating season and once before the cooling season. You may wish to replace it more frequently if you live in a dusty area. Replace the filter with a new one that is rated for the same amount of airflow as the old one. “Be cautious of ‘air purifying’ or HEPA filters,” Moody says, “because they can dramatically reduce airflow in your system, causing the indoor coil to freeze.”
Look for the filter enclosure where the large fresh air return duct joins the inside furnace/AC. To open the filter enclosure door, you may need to turn the lock with a screwdriver. Replace the old filter with the new one, making sure that the air-flow direction arrows on the filter match the directions on the unit. Close and latch the door.
Restart the computer if necessary.
While following these steps can help keep your air conditioner in good operating order, some maintenance jobs are best left to a skilled HVAC contractor. A slow refrigerant leak in your air conditioning system, for example, can lead to expensive compressor failure, but a homeowner lacks the tools and knowledge to check refrigerant levels. Clean ducts and appropriate ventilation are also required for a properly running system, but most homes lack the requisite equipment. So, what’s the bottom line here? While a qualified homeowner can conduct some AC maintenance, it is still necessary to have the system inspected on a regular basis by a professional specialist. Most air conditioning companies recommend having your system serviced twice a year, once in the spring before the cooling season and once in the fall before the heating season.
Maintaining it (the air conditioning equipment) in good operating order, just like anything else, can extend its life and allow problems to be addressed before they become serious, or worse, an emergency. To maintain your air conditioning on a regular basis, it is highly suggested that you call a PRO airconditioning contractor. Get up to four quotes from professionals to get your maintenance done professionally by contacting us right now.