As we slide ever deeper into the summer months and the weather heats up, more and more people are going to be using their air conditioners to stay cool at home. With increased use, however, comes a greater strain on each system and an increased risk that something in it will get worn down or fail.
What could be more frustrating and annoying than to have your AC collapse right when you need it most? Regular and responsible AC maintenance is the most effective way to prevent this from happening and make sure that you aren’t left baking in the unforgiving heat.
Failure to do proper maintenance can also cost you dearly, as air conditioner installation tends to carry a far higher price tag than basic maintenance or repair do.
The Original Flame, Inc. and our HVAC maintenance arm JRH Enterprises Heating & Cooling have highly trained technicians who specialize in air conditioner repair, maintenance and installation, so we’re ready to step in and help keep you from melting as the summer hits its stride. But apart from our help, there are also things that you can do to keep your AC running smoothly.
Here are some critical pointers for keeping your Air Conditioners in tip-top shape.
AC Maintenance — Things You Need to Know
To know how to keep your AC at peak performance, you first need to know how it works and what the primary threats are to its efficient functioning.
At the most basic level, a central AC system works in the following way:
- First, the system passes refrigerant through pipes that run between the evaporator (or air handler), which is indoors, and the condenser, which is outdoors.
- Then, the evaporator draws warm air from your house into a series of return ducts, filters it and passes it over its evaporator coils.
- By absorbing the heat from the air, the refrigerant turns to vapour and therefore needs to be moved over to the condenser. The condenser pressurizes the refrigerant and passes it over condenser coils, which make the refrigerant cold again and return it to liquid form.
- Supply ducts then distribute the cooled air throughout your house, which is finally able to come back into each room through a set of registers.
From this, we can see that various things can threaten the proper workings of your AC system. There might not be enough refrigerant to properly cool the air in your house. Also, filters, air ducts and registers might become dirty or clogged with debris, thus keeping air from passing through the system properly. Evaporator and condenser coils might also become plastered with debris. If this happens, air will not be cooled efficiently and you may feel like the temperature in your house is not changing. Condenser coils are especially vulnerable to this, since the condenser is located outside and is thus exposed to lots of pollen and dust.
Additionally, other problems not mentioned here might afflict your system. For instance, the wiring in your thermostat, which sets your AC into motion, might be faulty or damaged. For problems like this, however, you will almost certainly need the services of a licensed AC technician from JRH.
All of these factors and more must be taken into account when doing maintenance.
Tips for Maintaining Air Conditioners This Season
Now that you have some idea of the kinds of things that can hurt, slow down or destroy your AC, what are some actions that you can take to ensure that your home stays cool as Mother Nature begins turning up the heat?
The simplest and most important piece of advice that we can offer everyone is — clean and inspect everything. This includes all filters, air ducts, registers, evaporator and condenser coils, and especially all equipment that is positioned outside. When cleaning large outdoor components of your central AC system like the condenser, always take care to wear gloves. This way, you can keep your hands from getting dirty or from being accidentally nicked or cut on a jagged edge.
DIY fixes can be fun do and can certainly be a source of pride when they are successful. But it is equally important to know when you’re out of your depth. If one of your periodic inspections indicates the need for a complicated technical fix, like replacing refrigerant or fixing the wiring on your thermostat, don’t hesitate to call JRH and invite one of our skilled technicians to help you.
The Optimal Air Conditioner Maintenance Schedule
We know that time and sustained use wear out all kinds of equipment. Air conditioners are no exception. Even if your AC doesn’t completely brake under the strain of time, its efficiency is sure to lag, which can substantially increase your energy bills. Regular maintenance can keep this from happening, but how often do you need to have AC service done to make it “regular”?
Generally speaking, most HVAC professionals recommend that people have air conditioner maintenance done at least once a year, especially if your AC is part of a central heating and cooling system. Indeed, HVAC system warranties, to be usable, generally require recurring proof of annual maintenance. Also, it’s best to have technicians come around to check on your system in the spring. That way, you’ll be good to go before heading into the summer.
Beyond this general tip, know that various individual parts of your AC system have their own maintenance schedules. AC filters should be cleaned or replaced every month or so, even during the cool season. In the summer, when the AC is in greater use, you may have to do this even more often. The same goes for cleaning out registers.
We further recommend cleaning your evaporator coils and clearing your Air Conditioners drain once per year. It is also good policy to try and clean debris out of the unit about once a month. And at the same time, make sure that all air ducts are clean. This will maximize efficiency.
Other maintenance tasks, like replacing refrigerant, checking for seal duct leakage and oiling motors, can be done by technicians during annual check-ups.
|AC System Part||Recommended Maintenance Frequency|
|Clean Filters and Registers||Monthly|
|Clean Evaporator Coils||Annually|
|Clear AC Drain||Annually|
|Clean Air Ducts||Monthly|
|Check for Seal Duct Leakage||Annually|
Trying to make it through a hot day without the benefit of AC can be torture. And we know that no AC system is going to maintain itself. So why risk letting your home become a glorified oven? Now that summer’s here, call JRH and let us check out and tune up your Air Conditioners so that they function like a dream.
We are licensed TSSA contractors who do work in the Kawarthas, Millbrook, Buckhorn, Peterborough, Lakefield and in other places around northeastern Ontario.
Learn more about us and what we can do for you in the areas of AC repair, installation, maintenance and more. Schedule an appointment with us today.