Every homeowner knows the importance of having an air conditioning system in good working order, although few really know how to make sure that their system stays in good shape. The key lies in regular checks that all homeowners should be doing.
Use this four point checklist for examining your air conditioning system every year:
1. Clean the evaporator if you can get to it. If not, have a professional service provider clean it. The evaporator is typically located right above the furnace. In some models, this part of the system is not easily accessible and should only be cleaned by a professional, although other systems do make it easy for a homeowner to access it in order to clean it. When in doubt, call in a professional the first time to make sure that this is something you can handle each year.
2. Clean the condenser coil. In most cases, you should be able to get to this part of the system because it is usually located outside the house on a concrete slab. Be sure that you are always keeping grass and shrubs from growing over this unit because if the airflow is blocked, the efficiency will suffer greatly. Use a commercial coil cleaner to clean the condenser and then flush the coil clean. Avoid using a hose for this because you could end up accidentally clogging the unit. Look for a tool known as a fin comb to clean between the tiny spaces.
3. Check fluid levels. This is another item that some homeowners might feel comfortable doing, while others are better off leaving it to professionals. With some models, it is fairly easy to see how much refrigerant is in the system. If the number is too high or too low, then it’s time to call in a professional for repairs or charging. In cases where there is not enough refrigerant, usually the issue is a leak in the system. You should always leave major repairs to a professional, although it is helpful to know how to spot a problem before it becomes a very serious one.
4. Have the thermostat tested regularly. Every year it is essential that you have a professional service provider check the thermostat so that you know it will keep your home at the temperature you want. Testing the thermostat is a rather complex process that most homeowners won’t want to tackle on their own.
Of course there are also other things you can be doing to keep your air conditioning system in top shape and also save money on your electric bill. For example, running your dehumidifier can actually make the system work harder because the extra airflow makes it seem like there is a larger space to cool. If you use a dehumidifier, make sure that it isn’t turned on at the same time as the air conditioner.
Also avoid flipping the air off and then right back on again within five minutes. This puts a heavy load on the system and can cause problems, like blown fuses or even more serious permanent damage to the compressor.
It is critical that you let a professional air conditioning service provider handle any and all repairs to the evaporator and condenser parts of the system. Both of these units are sealed, and the entire system should be checked annually by a professional in addition to the regular checks done by the homeowner.