What kind of regular maintenance do ACs need and how often?
The outdoor unit of a central home air conditioner should always be covered in the winter in the areas of the country where air conditioners aren’t generally used due to cold weather. Air conditioner units can be covered with pre-fabricated kits or by simply measuring and cutting a 2 to 6 mil plastic sheet to cover the unit. Conversely, the cover should be removed before the unit is operated in the warm season months. The fins on the sides of the unit should be checked for debris before operating as well. The air flows inward and upward into the unit from the sides and any blockage will diminish the cooling effectiveness of the unit.
Check the cooling fins on the sides as well. If the fins are bent, the airflow could be blocked. Use a kitchen knife with a rounded end or a specialized tool to straighten all the fins inside the protective cage that surrounds the unit. A soft bristle brush can be used to remove smaller debris from the cooling fins. If the debris is too compacted, an HVAC company should be used to flush the unit from the inside. It’s a good idea to perform fin maintenance toward the beginning and the end of the cooling season.
Make sure the insulation around the refrigerant line is intact as well. The insulation insures the refrigerant is as cold as it should be as it goes into the house. Check to make sure the refrigerant line and electrical supply line are in good shape too. Make sure the cooling unit is level. The compressor inside the unit won’t operate at full capacity if it’s not level.
Check the refrigerant line on the inside of the house as well. Make sure the inside unit is draining properly. Algae can grow inside the drain line and cause a blockage. Check to make sure the fan unit is functioning properly. It’s a good idea to change the air filter two or three times per season depending on the amount of dirt and dust in the environment where the cooling system is.
If a refrigerant leak is suspected, a qualified HVAC company should be contacted to find and correct it.
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