Sunday, May 9, 2010
Why Pre-Season Air Conditioning Checkups
By Roger Desrosiers
We all know the value of annual medical checkups because of the possible serious consequences that can develop, especially as we grow older. Finding a possible serious condition can save us a lot of grief. Well, this also applies to the possible consequences of not taking proper action in other aspects of our lives. One of which is the proper maintenance of our home/business air conditioning system.
Spring may not be a time when most of us are thinking about our air conditioning system, but it is the perfect time to schedule an annual check-up to make sure your whole home/ business is ready for summer. A pre-season check of your air conditioning system prior to the summer months can be a real money saver. When your air conditioner is running well it uses less energy to cool your house, and lower energy use means bigger savings for you on your monthly utility bills. Air conditioners at peak efficiency will use up to 20 percent less electricity and last years longer.
Early air conditioner maintenance will reveal most small problems that can lead to major, for more expensive problems if left unattended. Furthermore, if your air conditioner checkup is scheduled for spring, you’ll beat the long waits and higher prices that come with peak season HVAC repair visits. You will also be able to schedule a HVAC professional to come out when it’s most convenient to you for service. Wait until later in the summer, however, and you’ll find all of the pros are booked, and if you need them desperately, it’ll cost you!
Below is a checklist of common maintenance procedures your HVAC contractor should include in their routine maintenance call, and a list of some basic tips that homeowners can do themselves to help maintain their air conditioning systems.
Air Conditioner Maintenance Check List by Contractor.
1. Check for proper refrigerant levels. Low levels indicate a leak that needs to be found and repaired immediately. Low refrigerant levels can burn out your compressor, resulting in the most costly repair when it comes to air conditioners.
2. Check all electrical components and controls to make sure they’re working properly.
3. Clean evaporator and condenser coils. Dirty evaporators and coils reduce the energy efficiency and cooling ability of your unit.
4. Oil motors as needed.
5. Calibrate thermostat to make sure your air conditioner isn’t working overtime.
6. Check the condenser for any possible problems.
7. Check, clean, and/or replace filters.
What the Homeowner can do?
1. Before turning on your unit make sure the condensing unit located outside is not covered up. This unit needs to draw air into the system in order to have something to cool and blow out inside, but the process will be hindered if it cannot pull enough air from the outside.
2. Clean obvious obstructions such as newspaper, leaves, etc. from around the exterior of the unit.
3. A thoroughly cleaned air conditioning unit will operate at top efficiency. Homeowners are strongly discouraged from using a hose and water to try to clean it themselves because of the very serious risk of electrical shock and possible shorting of electrical components. You should contact a licensed HVAC professional.
4. Run your air conditioner for a few minutes now, before you need it. If you wait until the first hot day to discover it isn’t working, you’ll find yourself on a waiting list, sweltering sometimes for days before an air conditioning specialist can come to fix it.
5. Change the filters regularly. Dirty filters restrict airflow, reducing efficiency and worse case, can cause the evaporator to ice up. Disposable fiberglass filters should be replaced. Electrostatic or electronic filters need to be washed regularly.
6. Be sure all access panels are secure, with the screws in place.
7. Be sure the thermostat is set in the cooling mode. Just setting the dial below room temperature will not activate the air conditioning if it is set in the heat mode.