Tuesday, 26 February 2013

DIY Tips for Regular Air Conditioner Maintenance at Home

Preventing cooling problems at home is always wiser than to fix them. Regular maintenance of you’re A/C system will be time and effort well spent. Like any other machine that needs regular tuning, an air conditioner that is well-maintained will function more efficiently. There may not be many repairs you can do yourself as there are specific procedures to follow to keep your air conditioner operating at full efficiency. These tasks can only be carried out by a contractor who is well versed in repairing a cooling system. 

Before starting any work on your unit, make sure that the power to the system is off, especially the evaporator and condenser. Air conditioners are expensive systems and it is imperative that you undertake regular maintenance and avoid costly repairs. You can follow some simple DIY servicing tips to keep your system running like new every time.
  • Switch off the power – The main power must always be turned off before commencing work. After that locate the capacitor by following directions provided by the unit’s manufacturer.
  • Oil the fan motor and clean the condenser – Your condenser will be covered with dust after a period of usage, so you can clean it with a brush. After this remove the cover grill and setscrew containing the fan. This way you can gain access to the oil ports and lubricate the fan motor as specified by the manufacturer. An air conditioning contractor will probably charge around $700 to service the condenser and fan. However you can avoid this expense by doing it yourself.
  • Clean the condenser coils – Using a garden hose you can clean the condenser coils by removing the coil guard. Then spray the inside unit to prevent the accumulation of water-soaked debris. The fins inside can be straightened if bent and cleaned with a fin comb.
  • Inspect and adjust belts and pulleys – Belts and pulleys need to be checked periodically as worn out pulleys and loose belts will decrease air flow, shorten the compressor’s life and increase operating costs.
  • Check and calibrate the thermostat – Did you know that every degree your air conditioner operates below the 78 degree mark will add 5-8 percent of your energy costs. So an improperly regulated thermostat can cause the unit to run longer than necessary.
  • Recycle the refrigerant – An improper refrigerant charge can go unnoticed and increase operating costs or cause compressor shutdown. You need to hire a professional for replacing the refrigerant if is damaged beyond repair. During this process, you need to ensure that no harmful, toxic gases are leaked into the atmosphere.
  • Record system temperature and pressure – Maintaining an accurate record of your system’s vital data can indicate future problems, which in turn can be averted.
  • Service the filters – The most important component of an air conditioning unit is the air filter. The air that we breathe is purified by the working of the filter. If proper cleaning is not undertaken on a regular basis, then fungi and bacteria will make its way inside your home. To clean the filter, detach the casing that includes the filter. Clean the air filter with a cloth and non-abrasive soap and water. To enhance the life of the filter, you need to repeat this procedure every two weeks. Before reattaching the filter to the unit, ensure that it is completely bone dry.
  • Replacement of filter – If the foam air filter is too worn out, you need to avoid using it. You can purchase a plastic electrostatic mesh filter from your local supplier which will cost around $7. Rinse it with clean water and cut the new filter with a pair of scissors. Allow it to dry completely and then install it inside.
  • Service the ducts – To help remove dust and debris from the ducts, you need to clean it regularly with a vacuum cleaner.
  • Undertake routine checkups – You need to check various parts like breakers, fuses and the thermostat on a regular basis and ensure that all are properly connected.
By following a regular maintenance schedule mentioned here, you can handle most problems that surface from your window or central air conditioning unit.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

What every homeowner should know on Air Conditioning basics

An air conditioner does not just cool indoor air but regulate and monitor the air temperature through the means of a thermostat. The system has an onboard filter that removes harmful particulates from the circulating air. It also functions as a dehumidifier because temperature is a key factor of humidity. What the system does is to reduce the temperature of a substantial amount of humid air, which in turn causes it to release a part of its moisture. That's why if you notice there are drains and moisture-collecting pans or drains attached to air conditioners or situated near them. Air conditioning systems are known to discharge water when they function on humid days.

When you’re replacing your air conditioner unit or having it repaired/serviced, you may run into some unfamiliar terms. Here is a list given below to help you understand some basic air conditioning terms that will help you familiarize with technical terminologies:
  • Air handler - It houses many critical components of the air conditioner and is the central part of the system. It includes the controls and the blower motor. However, it does not include the ductwork through which the conditioned air travels indoors to keep it cool.
  • Charge – This constitutes the total amount of refrigerant in your cooling system.
  • Coil - The pipes or tubes that pass through the area where the refrigerant flows and where heat transmission takes place.
  • Compressor - The heart of the system is housed in a metal casing fitted outside your home. It compresses refrigerant gas and transmits via the condenser coils, where it’s converted it into liquid form. The heat from the refrigerant is removed and dispersed into the outdoor air.
  • Ductwork - The distribution system that helps in carrying cooled air from the conditioning unit to the various areas in your home.
  • Evaporator – The coil where the heat is absorbed by the refrigerant and transformed into gas.
  • Expansion device – This device reverses the working process of the compressor as the temperature drops when the refrigerant’s pressure is decreased. The device is located inside the ducting accompanied with the presence of the furnace, where the same air handler is used without a dedicated fan.
  • Thermostat – It is an automated switch with adjustable controls which can be preset to a desired range of temperature.
  • MERV – Also called as the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, it provides a numerical rating of a filter’s ability to capture airborne particles that are very minute in size for e.g. 0.3 to 10 microns. The higher the MERV ratings, the better the filter performance.
  • Refrigerant - The liquid that flows through the cooling system and assists in heat transfer. The refrigerant either absorbs or gives off heat when it changes from a liquid to a gas and vice versa.
  • Register - The covering made of metal found over supply vents in the various areas of your home. Registers dampers or louvers for controlling the amount of air coming out.
  • SEER – Also knows as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, it indicates the cooling efficiency of an air conditioner. There is a rule that air conditioning systems manufactured after January 2006 should have a SEER rating of 13 or higher. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the air conditioner.
The world of air conditioning systems has its own language and terminologies. It’s helpful and useful for homeowners to acquaint themselves with relevant terminology when upgrading their air conditioners.