Few household chores pay off more than scheduling regular air conditioner maintenance.
A well-maintained air conditioning unit runs efficiently, uses less energy and costs less to run. Best of all? A properly serviced system has fewer breakdowns and a longer lifespan. To ensure manufacture warranty status annual maintenance by licensed contractors is required.
What You Should Know About Air Conditioner Maintenance
As a homeowner, you can tackle some routine air conditioner maintenance tasks. But you should leave technical assessments and repairs to properly trained, licensed professionals.
If you’re uncomfortable with performing any of the items on the list below, never hesitate to call a professional. For referrals to contractors with factory trained technicians, go to our Bryant dealer locator.
If you do handle some of the maintenance, always observe safety precautions. And, before you perform any work on your outdoor unit, shut down the power at your electrical box. And now, for the tips!
1. Examine the Thermostat
This may be the easiest task for air conditioner maintenance. Just check your thermostat to make sure it works properly and keeps your home at the right temperature. If you have an older, mechanical thermostat, consider upgrading to a smart, programmable model like the T6-WEM01-A Bryant Housewise Thermostat Preferred Series AC/HP Wi-Fi Thermostat.
A smart thermostat allows you to set the temperature higher when no one is home. It can cool the house down in a reasonable timeframe before people arrive home for the evening.
By doing this, you’ll always have a comfortable home waiting for you. And you’ll save energy and money by not having your air conditioner running when no one is there.
Want to monitor or make changes on your thermostat from anywhere? Consider WiFi capability options for remote access to your home’s comfort settings. Then set daily schedules for cooling your home, test the results, and pocket the savings!
2. Clean or Replace Air Filters
Replacing your air conditioner’s filter (or cleaning it if you have a reusable filter) is one of the most important air conditioner maintenance chores. Do it every month during high-use seasons (like summer and winter) and once during the fall and spring.
When the filter becomes full of dust, dirt and allergen particles, airflow decreases. This makes your system work harder than it should. Air flowing through your system may also become dirtier and dustier, impacting your indoor air quality and triggering allergy and asthma symptoms for those living in the home. In choosing a replacement filter, look for one that suits your needs. If you have family members with allergy and asthma problems; own pets; live in a dusty region; or have other similar indoor air quality challenges, consider upgrading to a filtration system with a better MERV rating.
MERV stands for minimum efficiency rating value. It’s a nationally recognized measurement system that’s used to rate every air filter. The rating is based on the filter’s ability to catch particles of a specific size. The MERV rating range is 1-20, with 1 being the lowest and 20 being the highest.
3. Check the Indoor Air Handling Unit
While you are taking care of your filter, be sure to check the appliance that moves the air in the home. Whether you have a conventional forced air furnace or some other form of air handler, making sure it is maintained is crucial to your system’s performance, longevity and efficiency.
Start by switching the power to the unit off by either the circuit breaker or service switch. Next, inspect the motor and wheel for any dirt or debris that may have bypassed your filtration and clean as needed. Make sure the motor bearings spin smooth and the wheel spins freely. If the wheel is unbalance, this will cause damage to the motor.
If a motor were to fail, the condensation that forms and drains from the evaporator coil will freeze to it. This could damage the coil and/or cause a host of other issues.
Speaking of condensation, ensuring the drain is clear, pitched correctly and free flowing is important. Clogged drains or pumps can cause damage to equipment and the items around it.
4. Clean the Outside Unit
Over time, leaves, dirt and grass clippings build up outside the air conditioner unit; this decreases the system’s capacity and reduces airflow. It’s also why maintenance for the outside unit couldn’t be more important.
First, shut off power to the unit. You can do that at the service disconnect on your outdoor unit or at your home’s main breaker panel.
Then, use a garden hose to gently wash out the debris. Start at the top, with the hose at about a 45-degree angle, and work your way down.
Do not use a power washer — otherwise, you could damage the unit. And take care not to bend or damage the delicate fins on the coil.
While you’re cleaning and making minor repairs on the outdoor unit, go ahead and trim any shrubs or other plants around your air conditioner. This will prevent them from impeding airflow to and from the unit.
5. Check Wiring and Components
Your air conditioner’s internal connections are crucial to its operation. What you don’t know about them could hurt your pocketbook from inefficient cooling, so it’s important to check the outdoor unit’s wiring at least once a year.
With the condenser unit’s power turned off, remove its access panel and look for signs of overheating. For instance, this could include melted insulation on wires and blackened or burned-looking wires. Also, check for critters and insects that may have taken up residence in the electrical panel.
Also, go ahead and check any electrical connections to make sure they are tight. If you own an electrical test meter, you can check the unit’s capacitors.
If you notice any problems and don’t feel comfortable correcting them yourself, call a local heating and air conditioning expert to do the work.
Of course, if you’re just not comfortable checking these parts yourself, that’s OK! Ask your local HVAC professional to include this in your bi-annual checkup.
6. Check the Condensing Unit’s Fan
Your air conditioner won’t cool your home very well if the condenser unit’s fan blades are in poor shape. They could cause damage to the motor bearings, wiring, or piping components inside the unit. That’s why it’s important to know their condition.
To do this, turn the power off to your air conditioner unit and check the fan mounted on top of the outside condenser unit for are any cracks or chips visible in one or more of the blades.
Also, if you have an older air conditioner unit, you may need to oil the fan motor bearings regularly.
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If you’re not comfortable performing any of this type of maintenance, just ask your local Bryant HVAC professional what is included in your bi-annual checkup. Most contractors will have service maintenance agreements that make it easy to properly maintain and repair your systems.