Keep your air-conditioner (AC) maintained and you’ll not only save money on energy, but you’ll also extend its lifespan, saving money on costly early replacement. Dave Moody, HVAC pro from Service Experts, says, “An AC needs regular attention to be sure it’s operating at its highest efficiency.” The best time to prepare your AC is just before each cooling season begins.
Your Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning system (HVAC) will consist of either a furnace and Air-Conditioner or a heat pump, which both heats and cools the house. Both types will have an interior unit and an exterior unit. These tips apply to a whole-home air-conditioning and heat pump unit.
Shut Off The Power
Working around electricity is dangerous and the air-conditioner’s moving parts, it’s essential to completely turn off power to the unit to be safe. On the exterior condenser/compressor, look for an exterior shut-off box near the unit. Be sure to also turn off the power at the breaker box.
Remove Debris from the unit
On the exterior condenser/compressor, remove the fan cage. Using a screwdriver or wrench, remove the fasteners and lift the cage or fan grill away from the top of the unit. In commercial units, you may need to hire an HVAC specialist to do this. By hand, or with a wet/dry vacuum, clean leaves and other debris from the interior. of the unit. You can then wash the exterior with a hose. That leads us to step 3
Clean The Fins
With a strong stream from a garden hose, spray through the fins from the inside out to blast any built up dirt or debris from between them. Never use a pressure washer. The pressure can damage the fins. If the fins are particularly dirty, use a commercially available fin cleaning spray.
Straighten The Fins
Since any reduction in air-flow through the fins will reduce efficiency, carefully straighten bent fins using a butter knife or commercially available fin-straightening tool. Be careful and avoid the tubing embedded within the fins is not damaged. These are what is most effected by the air flow.
Clean Area Around The Unit
Once finished with the cleaning, reattach the fan cage. Rake back leaves and debris outside the condenser in order to help air flow and cut back branches and vegetation at least 2 feet in all directions to ensure proper airflow around the AC unit. During winter months when the condenser is not in use, it is recommended that the top of the unit is covered with a piece of plywood or plastic to keep debris from falling in. However, don’t cover the unit’s sides, since moisture can build up inside causing corrosion. Also, a completely covered unit leads to vermin to build nests inside. Don’t forget to remove the cover when the unit is back in operation.
Level the Unit
Over time, the foundation upon which the condenser unit sits can shift as the soil settles beneath it. Check the condenser for level and use rot-resistant shims to bring it back to level. An out-of-level condenser unit can cause the compressor to fail early.
Clean the Evaporator Coil
Now it’s time to move inside. On the inside furnace unit, open the evaporator coil door. You may need to remove some foil tape and remove a few screws or bolts. Inside the unit, use a soft brush to dust off the coils, then spray the coil with no-rinse coil cleaner . The spray will foam up and then drip into the drain pan. Clean out the drain pan with soap, hot water, and a little bleach. Then, pour a cup of half bleach and half water down the drain. To keep the drain clear longer, place a drain pan tablet in the pan. This will impede future algae growth.