You might not need your central air conditioner now that the fall season is in full swing, but it still needs regularly scheduled maintenance. With summer temperatures no longer an issue, now is the perfect time for you to take care of those maintenance and upkeep issues that may have been put off throughout the summer. Get ready to battle next summer's heat wave with these helpful maintenance tips:
Banish Dirt and Debris from Your Central A/C System
The first thing you'll want to do is get rid of any dirt and debris within and around the A/C system:
- Trim away any overgrown foliage from the sides and bottom of the outdoor cabinet. Unchecked vegetation growth can literally choke the life out of your A/C system by blocking its airflow.
- Pick up and dispose of any fallen leaves, twigs or branches that happen to fall on top of your A/C unit.
- Use a garden hose to wash away leaves and other debris that is trapped within the outdoor cabinet. You can also clean the condenser coil inside of the outdoor cabinet this way, thereby killing two birds with one stone.
For the rest of the winter, consider protecting your outdoor cabinet by covering it up. In many cases, it's as simple as placing a piece of plywood over the condenser fan vent and weighing the plywood down with a brick or cinder block. You can also opt for a mesh cover that prevents leaves and other debris from getting through, while allowing plenty of airflow through the unit itself.
For the indoor cabinet, simply vacuum any and all debris that happens to be around the bottom of the unit. Don't forget to check and change the unit's air filter, since a clogged filter can drag down your central A/C system's performance by as much as 15 percent, according to the U.S. Aepartment of Energy.
Check for Leaks, Cracks and Defects
Next, take a visual survey of your air conditioning system. When it comes to outward appearances, you'll want to take note of any dents or dings that are present on the unit's body. Hail storms, small animals, falling debris or even a little rough-housing on the lawn are common causes of dents and dings on A/C equipment. This usually doesn't cause serious damage to the A/C unit itself, but you should always double-check just to be sure.
Afterwards, you should take a look inside the outdoor and indoor cabinets. For the outdoor cabinet, check the condenser fan and make sure there are no visible cracks or tears on the fan blades. Make sure there aren't any cracks or visible leaks in the refrigerant lines or the condenser coil.
When you get to the indoor cabinet, check the blower fan and the blower fan motor for cracks and other signs of outward damage. If the blower fan is belt driven, make sure the belt is properly adjusted and free of any signs of wear and tear.
Clean Up Your A/C Evaporator Coil
Caked-on dust and dirt can prevent your evaporator coil from properly absorbing and releasing heat. Fortunately, you have two options for cleaning your evaporator coil on your own:
- You can carefully scrub the evaporator coil using a soft-bristle brush and a mild detergent. However, you run the risk of damaging the delicate fins lining the evaporator coil.
- You can spray a foaming cleaner on the evaporator coil and let the foam work away at the dirt build-up. Most spray cleaners offer a no-rinse formula that eliminates an extra step and ensures efficient dirt removal.
If you do happen to bend a fin or see pre-existing damage on the evaporator coil, you can use a fin comb to carefully comb the aluminum fins back into place.
While you're at it, make sure you give the condensate drip pan and its associated drain a thorough cleaning. Use a combination of white vinegar and water or bleach and water to neutralize and remove mold growth. You may need a length of stiff wire to carefully bust up any clogs you encounter while cleaning the pan and drain.
For more information about keeping your HVAC system in good condition, visit sites like http://www.cblucashvac.com.