Maintaining your AC unit can help you save a lot of money in electricity bills and unnecessary repairs. Just do not do the things that Ice Cube’s character did in that goofy kid’s movie Are We Done Yet? So many things he did in that movie was illogical but that is another topic.
You will also benefit from a longer life span of the unit. Efficiency is the key here. Make sure you go through the following 9 steps before the summer season begins:
HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system comes with an AC, heating pump, and a furnace. There are two units:
- Interior unit that comprises of blower and evaporator
- Exterior unit that comprises of compressor and condenser coil
Now that you understand the different, here are the steps:
Shut off power
Even when you are not using your HVAC unit, shutting off the power will help you save some billed units. You will also need to shut of the AC and compressor unit when you are carrying out maintenance.
Clean the debris
The compressor and condenser oil on the exterior unit will eventually accumulate dirt and debris. Open and remove the fan cage and use a small vacuum to collect all the dry leaves and other debris that might have accumulated over the months.
Clean the fins
Get the hose from your garden and use a very strong stream of water to clean the fins (no, this has nothing to do with the fish in your fish tank!) of your unit. Make sure you clean the fins from the inside out as it will clear the debris and dust particles that got stuck in between the fins. Using a pressure washer can damage the fins, so avoid this at all costs. There are fine cleaning sprays available in the market that you can use if you find it difficult to clean them.
Straighten those fins
The fins are where the air flows through and if the fins are not straight, it can severely affect the performance of your HVAC unit. Check whether the fins are straight or not, and if the answer is no, use a fin straightener tool to straighten the fins (no, this should not be a hammer!). Take your time and do it slowly as you do not want to damage the fins. You may, though , also use a butter knife to get the job done; however, it would be better to get a fin straightener.
Clean the unit
Before you begin with cleaning the unit itself, from the outside that is, replace the fan cage back to its original position. To ensure a good and proper air flow, remove all the debris and dry leaves around the unit. It is also recommended that you cut off the branches or vegetation from around the unit area. You want to have about two feet of space.
No matter how many times you clean it, debris and dust will continue to fall on the unit, so it is recommended that you cover it with a plastic sheet.
Do this only in the winter months when you are not using the unit, otherwise you are going to undermine its performance. Let the sides of the unit remain open otherwise moisture will build up inside. There is also the risk of vermin inhabiting it when the unit is completely covered, so keep some areas on the sides open.
Level the unit
The condenser is usually heavy and the pad can tip out making the condenser tilt in one direction due to the weight of the unit. A condenser which is not level will fail quickly. You will need shims that are rot resistant in order to keep the unit level with the ground. The only exception is when your unit comes with a heat pump in which case, a slightly out of level unit is not a problem.
Clean evaporator coil
Moving forward with the cleaning process, now it is time to clean the inner unit. You will find the evaporator coil door inside the furnace/blower. Unscrew the bolts if required. After you have cleaned the coil using a soft brush, use a no-rinse coil cleaner to create foam which will also drip through the drain pan. Use a combination of bleach and hot water to clean the drain pan.
Clean plugged evaporator drain
If your drain is flowing slowly, chances are that algae and mold have found their way to the drain. It is a one inch PVC pipe which you will have to unplug. Use a vacuum to clean the drain.
Change the blower filter
You need to change the filter at least two times a year (depending on much you use your system and other aspects), especially before the hot season begins. Stay away from HEPA filters because they will reduce the air flow which is not good.