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Spring Cleaning: Air Conditioner Maintenance

Our customers ask us if there are certain things they could do themselves in order to keep their air conditioners working properly and avoid costly utility bills and repairs. If you have the time to do-it-yourself you will save money and your air conditioning unit will last a great deal longer. When your air conditioner is clean the refrigerant pressure and temperatures are much lower than a unit that is full of dust, as a result less energy is needed to pump the refrigerant which means less money for the utility company. What’s more, if your unit is working properly it will be able to remove the humidity efficiently from the interior space of your home, consequently you and your family will be feeling more comfortable and able to breathe much easier (especially if any family members are asthma suffers).

How to Go About Your Air Conditioner Maintenance

Routinely clean or replace your air filter

When normal airflow is blocked, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and weaken the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. According to government statistics, by replacing a dirty filter, it your air conditioner’s energy consumption can be lowered by 5% to 15%. If you have a central air conditioner, your filter should be located in one of three places. It can be in a grille in your wall or ceiling, in a slot on the side, bottom or top of your furnace, or the third possible location could be inside the blower compartment of your furnace or air handler.

Once you’ve removed it, you should determine whether it can be cleaned (please follow manufacturer’s cleaning instructions) or whether it needs to be replaced. During the time of the year when your system is functional, you need to check your filter about once a month. If your unit is constantly working, or you live in an area which experiences dusty conditions, and if you have furry pets inside your home, then you need to pay more frequent attention to your filter.

Clean the exterior of unit

Another easy do-it-yourself task is to wash the outside of your unit (the evaporator coil) since debris such as dust, dirt, dead insects, leaves and grass can block the fins. Consequently, the airflow to your system is reduced and the coil is insulated, reducing its ability to absorb heat. Try to minimize sources of dirt and debris near the condenser unit – by sources of debris we mean your clothes dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mowers. Keep the area around your unit clean of any debris, and trim foliage back at least 2 – 3 feet (approximately 1 meter) to permit sufficient airflow around the condenser. In order to prevent airflow problems, clean your evaporator coil annually or as much as necessary. Again, this will save you money in the long run and extend the life of your unit.

In order to clean your coil, you must turn off the power to your unit then with a garden hose you can wash away any debris (never use power washers since they can damage the fins of the coil). The best way to get rid of the dirt is to wash top-down by keeping the hose nozzle at a 45 degree angle. If you notice that some of the fins are bent on the evaporator and condenser coils, consequently blocking the airflow through the coil, then you can purchase a simple tool called a “fin comb” that can comb these fins back to their original condition.

Clear the unit’s drain channel

Finally, another job anyone can do is to intermittently pass a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels to make sure the channels are unobstructed and the moisture is able to flow out freely. If the drain channels are blocked, your unit’s efficiency to remove the humidity from the interior environment of your home will be reduced greatly and the excess moisture may discolour walls or carpets, create unhealthy air and a “smelly” home.

Ask us to help

When your air conditioner needs a little bit more ‘tender love and care’, you should call Lew Plumbing and Heating Ltd. We will dispatch our professional service technician to perform the more complex maintenance procedures and locate and repair any problem with your air conditioning system.

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Our service area includes Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, North and West Vancouver (North Shore), Surrey, and Coquitlam.

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