While our furnaces are still running, it may seem a bit early to be thinking about air conditioners, but with the first 80 degree day in the forecast, now‘s the time to make sure that your air conditioner is ready for a season of service.
Contractors say that many air conditioner failures could be avoided if homeowners would simply give the units a thorough cleaning each year. Both the indoor unit and the outdoor unit need to be cleaned to keep the air conditioner running efficiently. (If you have a heat pump, the indoor unit will be the air handler.)
When you consider the elements that an air conditioner is exposed to, you can grasp why a cleaning is important and may help extend the life of your unit. The most important task on the outdoor unit it to clean the condenser coil. (Before beginning any maintenance, always shut off the electrical power.) The coil contains a fan that sucks air in through its fins. Unfortunately, however, it’s not just air that gets pulled in. So does any dirt and debris.
Dust, leaves, dead grass and anything else that gets sucked in will stick to the fins and interrupt the flow of air, thus reducing the efficiency of the unit. If you live near a cottonwood tree, you know the mess they create in the summer. They are particulary hard on air conditioners. Add to that two other bad offenders—grass clippings and dandelion fluff—and the fins will get clogged pretty quickly. Checking them frequently during this season is a good idea.
When you’re cleaning the compressor, be alert for any drip marks on the bottom of the compressor case or pad. This can mean you have a leak, and that means you need an air conditioning repair person to handle the problem. Don’t attempt it yourself. When finished with your outside repairs, check your manual for the correct way to restart up your compressor, because they are fragile.
The indoor unit is a bit trickier to clean and most often requires an air conditioning service technician. However, one thing that will help the unit overall is to be sure that you regularly replace your furnace filter so that the furnace runs efficiently.
Taking the time to do the maintenance that you can on your air conditioning unit and hiring a professional for the tougher jobs and regular check-ups will help your unit to last as long and work as efficiently as possible.