Regular cleaning and maintenance will save you money by extending the life of your air conditioning unit and also on your energy bills. Here are some simple steps for homeowners that are easy to follow and take less than half a day to complete. Now is a great time to complete cleaning and maintenance before cooling season begins and your air conditioning unit is running continuously.
Turn off the power to the unit. Your HVAC unit will consist of a furnace and ac unit or heat pump, both of which have an interior and exterior unit. For the interior unit, turn the power off at the breaker box. For the exterior unit, there will be a shut off box close to the unit.
On the exterior condensing unit, use a screwdriver or wrench to remove the fastener and lift the fan grill or cage away from the unit. By hand or using a vacuum, clean leaves and debris from the interior of the unit.
Just like your patio furniture and home, your condensing unit collects dirt and leaves which constrict the air flow and will cause your unit to freeze up. After removing the outer cover, use a shop vacuum to remove all the outside dirt. Then using a gentle stream of water, spray through the fins on the outside of the unit to remove any build up between the fins. Never use a pressure washer or force on the gentle fins. If the build up is too thick try purchasing a commercial fin cleaning spray from your nearest hardware store. If the build up is too severe, Vigor Heating and Plumbing carries special cleaners and with a quick service call can remove the build up for you.
Hail and branches are among some of the many items that can damage the fins of your unit which reduces efficiency. Sometimes the damage is so severe and an HVAC company is required for the repair. However, if the damage is minor and is repaired regularly with patience and a gentle hand, homeowners can do the repairs themselves. Using a butter knife or a fin straightening tool, gently straighten the bent fins being careful not to damage the tubing within the fins.
Replace the fan cage and clean the leaves and debris around the condensing unit. Vegetation should be cut back at least 2 feet in all directions to ensure airflow is not compromised. If you are interested in purchasing a vinyl condenser cover for your unit, give Vigor Mechanical a call to see if we have a cover for your unit. Always remove the cover before starting up your unit for the summer.
A condensing unit is placed upon a pad however over time the ground can shift causing your unit to not be level. If your condenser is not level, the compressor could fail early so re-level your unit with rot resistant shims.
The evaporator coil for your cooling system is located in your interior unit. The evaporator coil door is located in the duct work right above the furnace and sits gently inside or is secured with screws. Remove the door and then use a very soft brush to gently dust off the evaporator coil. If the dust is not removed easily, commercially available no-rinse coil cleaners are available at home improvement stores. Reinsert the door upon completion.
Algae and mold can build up in the evaporator drain and plug it causing slow drainage or a complete blockage. This can cause flooding or stop your condensing unit from working. Locate the drain line where it leaves the evaporator coil enclosure (usually a white, grey or black pipe). Follow the pipe to the end, where it drains in to a basement floor drain or in rare cases a sink. Use a wet/dry vacuum to clear the drain by using a rag or duct tape to close the gap. Vacuum for 2-3 minutes to clear the line.
Great work! Now turn the power back on but keep an eye on your energy bills, condenser and thermostat over the cooling season. Contact Vigor Mechanical if you notice your air conditioning unit is not keeping up to the heat load or is making noises as catching repairs early can save you from costly repairs later on.