Tips to maintain your air conditioning system
Submitted by Michael Wallace, owner of Star Heating and Cooling LLC
Keeping your air conditioning system in good working order is easy to do and pays big dividends in reduced repair costs, lower electric bills and longer system life. The key is maintaining good airflow, both inside and out.
Inside the house, use a good, quality air filter that keeps dirt out of the equipment and air ducts. Change the filter regularly, about once a season or more frequently in homes with pets and children.
If you keep your filters clean, there should never be a need to have your air ducts cleaned. The filter should pick up the dirt. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) stated air duct cleaning doesn’t offer any significant improvement in the performance of the system and is not needed.
Electronic air cleaners offer superior filtering but at a fairly steep price, both in installation costs and time needed to keep it clean. These need to be cleaned more often, but they are the best at removing the smallest dirt particles and allergens. Media filters or filters that are 4 to 5 inches thick are the best at picking up dirt and not interfering with airflow until you change them. Filters can last up to a year in a clean house or six months in a house with pets and kids.
Outside maintenance is easy. In the spring after the cottonwood trees have released their seeds, inspect the surface of the coil on your outside A/C unit. If it is covered with fuzz, clean it off. Take a hose and a spray nozzle and start at the top. Push the fuzz and dirt down the face of the coil with the nozzle sharply angled to the coil. Spray all the way down and around until it is clean.
Even if there is not visible dirt, it is a good idea to clean the outside coil once a year. Spray it with a mild detergent mixture, and let it sit for about an hour. Go back and rinse it thoroughly. If you are nervous about getting shocked, you can turn off the power to the outside unit at the disconnect box on the side of the house. If there is no box, turn off the power at the breaker.
Despite your best efforts at keeping your system running right, it might pay to have a technician look it over once a year to prevent problems from cropping up.
Wallace is the owner of Star Heating and Cooling LLC in Fishers, Ind. His company has been awarded the Angie’s List Super Service Award for two consecutive years. It was also highlighted in Angie’s List Magazine. Wallace taught HVAC classes at Ivy Tech State College and ITT Technical Institute for 20 years and earned his HVAC license in 1987. He completed his bachelor’s degree in 1975 and has an associate of applied science degree from Ivy Tech. He is certified by NATE, RSES and ACCA.
As of June 30, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.