In this article, we will be providing you with expert advice on different ways that you can prepare and clean your central air conditioning system before summer hits. We include useful information on how to test your unit, check its coolant lines and how to clean the condenser coils.
Repairing the sealed refrigeration system on your central air conditioner is not a DIY job. This task should be done by a professional HVAC service technician like Schiller Air Conditioning.
However, there are certain maintenance and cleaning tasks that you can do on your own to ensure your system operates efficiently and minimize the need for professional help. We will be detailing some of these tasks below.
Shut Off The Power – Safety First
Before you start to work on your central air conditioner, make sure to turn the power off at the service panel to the condenser. Typically, the condenser also has a weatherproof 240-volt disconnect box that is located close to the unit; it contains a circuit breaker, fuses, or leaver for shutting the condenser off. Turn that off also.
Always keep in mind that a capacitor is contained in the condenser that has an electrical charge stored in it. Therefore, it can be potentially dangerous. Allow around thirty minutes for the capacitor’s charge to dissipate. Also, avoid touching any electrical components as an extra precaution. The air-handler cabinet or furnace frequently has a circuit breaker or separate switch located inside of the main electrical panel for controlling it. That should be shut off as well.
1. Replace or Clean the AC Filters
This is often the most important as well as the easiest step. A majority of systems have either a reusable or replaceable filter in the air-handler cabinet (normally inside or close to the air-inlet side) or furnace. There are some systems that also use air filters inside of the home’s return-air registers. Replace or clean all air-handler, furnace, or return-air filters two times per year or anytime they look like they are clogged with dust. The airflow will end up restricted if you don’t, which will reduce efficiency and recirculate the dust around your house.
2. Clean Your Condenser Coils
The condenser unit on a central air conditioner is usually located outside. It is a big metal box and its sides look like grills. Behind the grills, there are fan blades. It is ideally protected during the winter by a tarp or condenser cover. Otherwise, it will most likely end up with debris, dirt, and leaves inside, you will have to clean it out.
Inside of the metal box, there are large fan blades that move air across the condenser coils (radiator-style fins). If debris and dirt get inside of your unit, probably some of the coils are clogged.
Anything obstructing the airflow will reduce the efficiency of the condenser, so if the coils are clogged you should clean them at the start of each cooling season.
Also Read: Air Conditioner Types You Need To Know
In order to clean these coils, the protective grills or top and side panels will need to be removed from your condenser unit. Use a nut driver or screwdrivers, depending on the type of fasteners it has. Make sure to turn off the power on the unit before opening up the condenser. Unscrew the side panels and then pull them off of the unit. Lift off, which might be heavy due to the fan that is attached. Don’t pull on any wires that are connected to the fan.
Use a soft brush on your vacuum or a refrigerator brush to clean the coils gently from the outside part of the unit. Make sure you are careful so that you don’t damage the coils or bend any of the delicate fins. If any of the fans do bend, they can be straightened using a “fin comb” that has been designed for that purpose. After you clean the outside, next vacuum your coil on the inside of the unit.
3. Clear Debris and Clean the Condenser
Scoop debris and leaves out of the condenser based, and if there is a drain, be sure that the drain is clear as well.
Use a rag and vacuum to clean the fan blades on the blower. Tighten any mounting bolts that are loose, and if there are oil ports on the fan motor, add a couple of drops of oil take WD-40 and spray some into the ports to keep things lubricated. If there is any excess water inside of the unit, mop it up, and then put the condenser back together.
Get rid of any vines or weed that might obstruct airflow coming from the condenser unit.
4. Check your Coolant Lines
The refrigerant pipes or tubes running from the air handler’s evaporator to the outside condenser usually are covered with foam coolant insulation line to prevent energy from being lost.
If there are areas with missing or frayed insulation, replace them. To do that, wrap the lines using foam insulation in a spiral manner or add foam insulation sleeves. You can use a utility knife to cut either of these materials.
5. Test Your AC Unit
After your unit has thoroughly dried, turn the power back on to the condenser. First, turn off the thermostat in your house. Then turn the power on at both the main panel and disconnect box. Finally, switch your thermostat to COOL.