That's right, with some really basic air conditioner maintenance you will save money. This guide will help you to take care of your ducted split system air conditioner. There are several benefits to having a properly maintained system.
First, a properly maintained system will last longer because it does not have to work as hard. A new system will cost thousands of dollars.
Next, a properly maintained unit will run more efficiently which will save you money every day. In a clean unit, the refrigerant pressures and temperatures are typically lower. This means that the compressor does not require as much power to pump the refrigerant therefore your electric bill is lower.
The third benefit is that your home will be more comfortable. A unit that is not properly maintained cannot remove the humidity from the home's air as effectively. This usually leads to a clammy sticky feeling in the home as well as higher electric bills.
Lastly, is the fact that a properly maintained unit is less likely to breakdown. This saves money on repair parts and service calls.
Most heating and air conditioning companies as well as many utility companies offer service contracts. They can cost from $200-$500 depending on the type and the company. With a little help, you can perform the necessary maintenance (and keep that money)!
Many times homeowners spend that money every year out of fear that the unit will require repair. After a few years, you have actually spent enough to buy a new system.
The main thing that must be done is cleaning or replacing your air filter.
The filter is usually located in one of the following places:
1. In a grille in your wall or ceiling.
2. In a slot on the side, bottom, or top of your furnace.
3. Inside the blower compartment of your furnace or air handler.
It is just a matter of removing it and replacing it with another of the same size. You should do this at least every 3 months but it is better to check it on a monthly basis.
The next step in air conditioner maintenance is to check the electrical wiring and components. You should begin by SHUTTING OFF THE POWER TO THE UNIT. This can be done at the service disconnect outside or at the main breaker panel.
Then, you can remove the access panel on the condensing unit and look for signs of electrical system overheating. Things to look for include blackened wires and melted insulation on wires. You should check all connections to ensure they are tight.
If you have an electrical test meter, you should also check the capacitors in the unit. You can refer to our capacitor testing guide for a procedure.
You should also look for signs of pitting on the contactor and replace it if excessive pitting is noticed.
You should also examine the fan blade on the condenser fan. Look for small cracks and replace it if you see cracking. In some older units, the fan motor bearings may require oiling.
The next step in air conditioner maintenance is to wash out the outside unit. Over time dirt, leaves, grass clippings, etc. build up on the outside of the unit. The result of this is lower system capacity. You will most likely see the effects of it on your electric bill.
Cleaning the unit is a simple matter. SHUT THE POWER OFF TO THE UNIT. Then use a garden hose and gently wash out the debris. Start at the top, holding the nozzle of the hose at about a 45 degree angle to the unit. Work your way down and around the unit, flushing the debris out as you go. DO NOT USE A POWER WASHER AND BE CAREFUL NOT TO MASH THE FINS ON THE COIL.
The next step in air conditioner maintenance is to check your thermostat. If it is an older mechanical type, you need to ensure that it is perfectly level. Then, you should run the system through a normal cooling cycle. **NOTE** The unit should run for 10-15 minutes before you check operating temperatures.
You should complete your air conditioner maintenance by checking the temperature drop across the unit. You can do this by measuring the return air temperature (temperature of air entering the air handler) and the supply air temperature (temperature of air leaving the air handler). Subtract the supply air temperature from the return air temperature to find the observed temperature drop. This value should be around 15 degrees for a high efficiency unit and about 18-20 degrees for an old (less than 10 SEER) unit.