Air Conditioner Maintenance for Central AC Units
General Home Maintenance
Air conditioning maintenance is important to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the system’s operation. It is also important in avoiding large repair bills. There are a number of things that can be added to your checklist to maintain your air conditioner.
Central air conditioners are fairly easy to maintain, especially the newer systems. The first step in central air conditioning maintenance is to check that the outside unit is clear of any obstructions like leaves and debris which may be clogging the systems airflow. The best way to do this is with a vacuum cleaner. The air conditioners drainage pipe can be cleaned by putting a cap over one end (available at hardware stores) and using the vacuum cleaner to suck out the dirt.
Another way of checking and clearing the drainage line is by using a hose to run water down the pipe. After locating the outside exit of the drainage line, attach a hose securely to the pipe in the indoor unit and have someone turn on the faucet. If the water flow exiting the pipe is flowing slower than it is entering it would indicate that the pipe is clogged. If the water does not clear the blockage, try running a half-water, half-bleach solution through it. This will clear it of any algae or mould that may have built-up over the winter.
The outside unit of air conditioner is where hot air is vented so any obstructions will make its job a lot more difficult. If this unit has to work harder it will be less efficient, costing more to operate and failing to cool the building effectively.
The next step in air conditioning maintenance is to check the system is still working. This should be done before summer so that any problems can be eliminated before you need the air conditioner.
Other components of the air conditioner that need to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis include the condenser, the evaporator coils and the fan. To clean the condenser coils in the outside unit, remove the cover, disconnect the power and use a hose pipe to spray it down. Then spray on some air conditioner cleaner (available from most manufacturers) and leave it for a few minutes. Then give it another rinse with the hose.
To gain access to the evaporator coil the front panel of the indoor air conditioner unit must be removed. Make sure the coil is dry and then, using a bristled brush, clear the dust and dirt from the coils. Also make sure the coil fins are not bent. If they are they can be straightened using a small, fine comb available from most air conditioner suppliers. If this coil is not cleaned regularly, excess dirt can affect its ability to absorb heat from the air.
The fan enclosure and fan blades can be found in the indoor unit just behind the filter. By removing the filter you can gain access to this area and clean it using a vacuum cleaner and soft, bristled brush.
Unit air conditioner maintenance, for example in window or portable air conditioners, is just as essential as with central air conditioners. Simply wash inside the unit once a year using water and a soft bristled brush. The filter should also be washed or replaced once a month. Filters can be rinsed with water but they must be left to drip dry before being reinstalled.