How to Keep Your A/C Unit Running Efficiently
Chances are if you’ve neglected a spring checkup, your air conditioner isn’t cooling nearly as well as it could. A year’s worth of dirt and debris clogging the cooling fins, a low coolant level, a dirty blower fan filter and a number of other simple problems can significantly reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner and wear it out faster.
We’ll show you how to clean the outdoor unit (called the condenser) and the accessible parts of the indoor unit (called the evaporator). All the steps are simple and straightforward and will take you only a few hours total. If you feel this job is better suited for a professional call Morehart Air and Heating 623-566-0005.
You may have a different type of air conditioner or a unit mounted horizontally in the attic. However, you can still carry out most maintenance procedures we show here, because each system will have a condenser outside and an evaporator inside.
- Clean the condenser – Begin by shutting off the electrical power to the unit. Normally you’ll find a shutoff nearby. It may be a switch in a box, a pull lever or a fuse block that you pull out.
- Vacuum the fins clean with a soft brush. On many units you’ll have to unscrew and lift off a metal box to get at them. Check your owner’s manual for directions and lift off the box carefully to avoid bumping the fins. Occasionally you’ll find fins that have been bent. You can buy a special set of fin combs to straighten them.
- Unscrew the fan to gain access to the interior of the condenser.
- After you hose off the fins, check the fan motor for lubrication ports. Most newer motors have sealed bearings and can’t be lubricated. Check your owner’s manual to be sure. If you find ports, add five drops of electric motor oil. Don’t use penetrating oil or all-purpose oil.
- Clean the indoor unit – The evaporator usually sits in an inaccessible spot inside a metal duct downstream from the blower. If you can get to it, gently vacuum its fins with a soft brush as you did with the condenser. However, the best way to keep it clean is to keep the air stream from the blower clean.
Begin by turning off the power to the furnace or blower. Usually you’ll find a simple toggle switch nearby in a metal box, otherwise turn the power off at the main panel. If you have trouble opening the blower unit or finding the filter, check your owner’s manual for help. The manual will also list the filter type, but if it’s your first time, take the old one with you when buying a new one to make sure you get the right size. Be sure to keep the power to the blower off whenever you remove the filter. Otherwise you’ll blow dust into the evaporator fins.
- The evaporator fins dehumidify the air as they cool it, so you’ll find a tube to drain the condensation. The water collects in a pan and drains out the side. Most tubes are flexible plastic and are easy to pull off and clean. But if they’re rigid plastic, you’ll probably have to unscrew or cut off with a saw to check. Reapply glue to the rigid tubes using a coupling, or replace them with flexible plastic tubes.
We here at Morehart Air and Heating like to provide our customers with as much knowledge as possible when it comes to your heating and cooling units. If you would like to clean your system yourself the tips are here. If you feel a professional is better suited we are waiting for your call. Here to help….Always.