Air Conditioning System MaintenanceAir Conditioning System Maintenance

Just what would summer be like without central air? In most parts of the country, central air is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Your central air conditioning system is your lifeline during hot weather, and when it goes on the fritz, no one is happy. Most central air units are connected directly to your home's forced-air distribution system. The same blower, motor, and ducts that are used to distribute heat are also used to distribute your cool air. Hot air from inside your home flows through your furnace via a return-air duct, and is then moved by the blower across the evaporator coil in your unit and then delivered throughout your vents in order to cool the home. If the air conditioning unit is working but the house isn't cool, then you likely have a problem in your distribution system. Your evaporator and condenser to your central air conditioning unit are sealed, which is one of the reasons that a qualified technician must be called out for any maintenance other than the routine cleaning that you can perform to keep your unit running in top shape. There are few repairs that the average homeowner can make on their own when it comes to central air, but there is specific maintenance tasks that you can undertake to make certain that your system does its job like it should.

Replacing Air Filter

The filter of your central air unit should be changed at least once a month, and more often during peak periods of use in order to allow air to properly circulate through the blower. A dirty filter can cause a host of problems for your central air unit. To replace the air filter, locate the filter in your unit. Some may be located on the condenser, while others may be found around the evaporator. Remove any grilles or housing that must be removed in order to access the filter and remove it. Replace the filter with the exact same type of filter. You can find the part number for the filter on the old filter, or simply take the old filter with you to the store when replacing it. Reinstall your central air unit filter, and make certain that the area around the filter is clean and free of debris and dust.

Cleaning the Condenser Coils

The condenser coils on your air conditioning unit should be cleaned at least once each year, preferably at the beginning of the cooling season, but they can be cleaned more often if they are dirty. To begin, shut of the power to the central air unit and turn the thermostat up. Remove the exterior metal grille if necessary, which is usually held on with bolts or screws. Use plastic bags to cover the compressor, motor, and other electrical parts, and then seal them with tape. Gently brush off any visible dirt from the condenser coils, and then use a garden hose to wash the coils from the inside. Allow the unit to dry before taking the plastic bags off of the compressor, motor, and other electrical parts.

Cleaning the Evaporator Drain

The evaporator coils on most central air conditioning units are sealed and can only be accessed by a licensed technician. But you can keep the evaporator drain clean. This is the drain that carries away moisture from the evaporator coils. If you see that there are puddles of water beneath the coils, then the drainpipe is likely clogged with bacteria and algae. Simply disconnect this drainpipe and flush the trap with a hose. Then pour in a tablespoon of bleach and reattach.
by Fiona Baron
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Fiona Baron is a writer who loves home improvement. If you're looking to get a new Sacramento air conditioning system installed give Newmans Heating and Cooling a call at 916-344-6625.
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