To get the most from your air conditioner, it must be running efficiently and not overheating when cooling your home. To help it do its job, there are two simple maintenance tasks that you can do. Here is how to change the air filter and clean the cooling fins on your air conditioner to have it ready for the warm weather and keep it running efficiently all summer.
Replacing the Air Filter
This doesn't sound like a big task, and it isn't. But if done wrong, or not often enough, you can prematurely wear out your air conditioner. Yes, an air filter that costs just a few dollars is that important.
The air filter removes contaminants such as dust, pollen and pet hair before they move through the system and back out into your home. The clean air is healthier for you to breathe, but it's also important to your AC unit. Unfiltered air will allow dirt and other contaminants to collect on the motor. A dirty motor runs hotter, which causes it to be less efficient. A severe case of dirt build-up can cause a blower motor to overheat and burn out.
It's recommended that you change the air filter every one to three months. Expensive HEPA filters are made to remove very small particles in the air. These filters clog up fast and need to be changed monthly. Inexpensive filters do an adequate job cleaning the air and you can get by changing them less often.
- Turn your thermostat up to a high temperature so the AC doesn't come on.
- Remove the access panel on the side of the furnace or AC unit where the filter is located.
- Pull the filter out and notice the measurements on the side. If no measurements are listed, measure the two different sides of the filter with a tape measure.
- Go to the local hardware store and buy the same size filter.
- Place the filter back into the unit, noting the arrow printed on the filter that says "Side Toward Blower" so you position the filter correctly.
- Check along all edges of the air filter to make sure it's seated in the frame with no gaps. Any gaps will allow dirty air to get past the filter and into the AC unit and your home.
- Replace the access cover and adjust the thermostat to where home will be comfortable.
Cleaning the Cooling Fins
The part of the AC system that sits outside of your home contains the condenser. This device compress the AC coolant to create the cool air that circulates through the house. Like the blower motor, the condenser becomes quite warm. A fan and special metal fins keep the condenser cool. If these become clogged, the condenser can overheat and shut down. Make it a habit to check on the fan and fins monthly during the hot summer months and remove any dirt and debris.
- Turn the thermostat up again to keep the AC from coming on.
- Remove the screws holding the top of the condenser unit in place.
- Pull the top off and set aside.
- With a vacuum cleaner, a long wand tool, and a soft brush, clean off the fan blades, fan motor, and the metal fins surrounding the condenser.
- If any of the fins have become bent, carefully straighten them out.
- If a large section of the fins have been pushed in or broken, have a heating and air conditioning company come out to do the repair. They have a special "comb" that they use to straighten out the fins.
- Replace the top of the unit and secure in place the screws.
- Adjust the thermostat back to a comfortable setting.
For more information about getting your AC ready for summer, contact a company like Getzschman Heating, LLC.