Maintaining your air conditioner shouldn’t be reserved for the moment you experience a heatwave and realise your system isn’t working optimally. Getting a team into service and clean your units should be scheduled twice a year so that everything is in top working order for those days you need it the most. To avoid glitches, keep your power bills down and protect the health of your family, these are the aircon maintenance tasks that need to be on your to-do list.
1. Change the air filter
This is a prime factor in making sure you keep your AC unit running efficiently. When air is restricted in any way by a clogged up filter, the machine will have to work even harder to run. This will send your power bills climbing and hurt your wallet if you want to achieve the cooling effects you’ve enjoyed in the past.
It’s recommended you clean or change your filter every four to six weeks. Always check that the filter you purchase as a replacement is fully compatible with your specific unit. There are various options, such as a pleated filter, which is designed to catch more debris than flat ones, for example.
Top tip: Use water to clean a filter or a vacuum cleaner. If it is very dirty, you will need to wash it in lukewarm water (add a mild detergent) and dry it in a spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight.
2. Clean the coils
The evaporator coils allow compressed cooling chemicals to evaporate from liquid to gas. They absorb heat in the process and send it back into the house as cold air. Cleaning the indoor coils will help prevent corrosion, and it’s recommended they are cleaned once a year. Doing so will also ensure that your AC will run more efficiently. Outside coils are found on the outside of built-in central air systems. You can simply hose off the dust and dirt, but make sure the unit is turned off first. Here are other risks you run when you don’t clean your coils:
- You will put extra stress on the system, which forces the fans and compressors to work harder at higher operating temperatures in order to get to the desired indoor comfort.
- Dirty coils can lead to less overall system effectiveness, which means you will experience higher humidity inside and less comfort.
- When debris builds upon the surface of the coils, they have to work harder to absorb and release heat so that they won’t cool as efficiently.
- When a system works less efficiently, you will experience higher operating costs.
- When stressed, the system is going to wear more quickly. A compressor is an expensive part to replace, so you want to ensure it is well maintained. Takeaway tip: If you clean or change your filters and maintain them correctly, it will help keep the coils clean too.
3. Remove debris around air vents
Clutter around the air vents reduces the airflow, which will also wear out your aircon prematurely. Get rid of any weeds, plants, and debris and use a soft broom to remove debris that may have gathered on the fins.
4. Unclog the condensate drain tube
Moisture is generated when your aircon is running, and it is funneled through a part called the condensate drain tube. When this gets clogged, a couple of things can occur. Firstly, mould can begin to grow, or it can lead to damaging flooding. You will find it outside the unit or inside a closet. Check your drain pan when you change the filter to see if it has become clogged.
It’s a simple fix. Simply place a wet-dry vacuum over the opening, wrapping a rag or towel where they meet. Running the vacuum for a minute will clear the clog. If your attempts don’t work, call your installer and schedule a service.
Takeaway tip: Make sure the aircon is turned off when you clean the condensate drain tube.
5. Book a service
Many maintenance tasks are not safe for you to do on your own. Working on the system yourself if you are not qualified to do so can also affect the warranty, so it’s not always advisable. An aircon technician will also spot issues that you may not know to look for and can therefore perform repair work before it becomes a bigger (more expensive) task. Here are some of the maintenance tasks they will undertake:
* Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage to pick up if there are any faulty connections that can reduce the life of the system and are potentially dangerous.
* Lubricate moving parts to reduce motor friction, improve system efficiency and reduce wear and tear.
* Maintain refrigerant levels as you need optimal levels (neither too much nor too little).