Experts recommend air conditioning maintenance to prolong the lifespan of your AC and ensure its energy efficiency. However, you may not be aware that a well-functioning unit can also contribute to better indoor air quality and reduce the humidity levels by removing the warmth and moisture from the air.
Here, we list down the maintenance tips and tricks that you should perform at least once a year. The only exception is replacing the air filter, which you should do every 2-3 months, depending on the quality of the filters and other various factors such as how frequently you use your AC, if there are pets in your house, you have allergies, etc.
- Change or clean the air filters.
You need to replace or clean your air filters, most of which are disposable. A good rule of thumb is to replace them every 90 days if you have no allergies. It is also advisable to check them at least every month to make sure that the dirt is not thick enough to the point that it forces your HVAC system to work harder than necessary.
If you have pets in your house, live in a dusty region, or have allergies, you may need to change your AC filters more frequently.
Remember, clogged, dirty filters can spike up your electricity bills by up to 15%, according to the US Department of Energy.
Note: If you have severe allergies, use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that remove at least 99.97% of airborne pollutants and allergens, including dust and mold spores.
- Clean your AC’s drain line and pan.
While the drain line and condense pan do not directly affect your AC’s performance, it remains essential to clean them to remove the clogs and prevent mold and algae growth.
A slimy biofilm may coat the inside of the drain lines until it completely clogs them, causing water to overflow from the pan.
To scrub the interior of the drain line, use a flexible drain brush, and for the drain pan, use a cloth.
If there is a substantial amount of water in your drain pan, it is often a sign that your line is clogged. Under normal conditions, they should have no standing water.
Sometimes, the biofilm clogging the drain line is so thick that it requires a drain gun that injects pressured gas to force the blockage out of the line.
You may also want to pour a mixture of one part bleach and one part water down the vent opening to kill any remaining algae inside the drain line.
- Inspect and clean your condenser coil and evaporator.
Inspect your evaporator and condenser coil, paying close attention to any sign of crack or hole. Remember, any damage to the coil will cause the refrigerant to leak out, preventing your AC from effectively cooling your house.
A garden hose is enough to do the trick to clean the condenser coil of your AC’s outdoor unit. But for stubborn dirt buildup, you may have to use a coil cleaner solution.
Meanwhile, it’s a bit trickier to clean the evaporator coil since it is in a tight space. But if you frequently change your air filters, there is no need to clean this part.
- Clean and comb the fins.
First things first, don’t use a pressure washer because it can damage the fins.
To clean the fins, remove the outer cover and use a powerful vacuum cleaner to eliminate the outside dirt. Then, spray water between the fins using a gentle stream from your garden hose to dislodge dirt and grime.
If the gentle stream is not enough to remove the dirt between the fins, use a commercially available fin cleaning spray (available at home improvement stores).
Once your fins are clean, you can “comb” them with a butter knife, or better yet, a commercially available fin-straightening tool. When combing the fins, use gentle pressure to avoid damaging the tubing embedded within them.
The purpose of combining the fins is to promote good airflow. Remember, dents can prevent air from flowing efficiently, which in turn reduces your AC’s performance.
- Inspect and clean the AC fan and blower.
Your AC’s blower looks like a fan that blows air throughout your house. During an inspection, make sure that it is not rusty or filled with debris that can affect your air conditioning unit’s performance.
Aside from rust and debris, also watch out for unnecessary vibration and the lopsided appearance of the fan. In addition, its belt should be in good condition. If not, it needs to be replaced immediately.
In addition, you need to lubricate the AC condenser fan motors, which usually emit a screeching noise if it needs to be oiled.
To lubricate the condenser fan motor, turn off your AC unit before removing the screws to gain access to its motor. Then, use a syringe or an applicator tube to oil the ports, which are small holes on the side of the fan motor.
Aside from the ports, you should also lubricate the motor shaft.
- Inspect and clean the ductwork.
When inspecting your AC ductwork, pay close attention to any sign of excessive dust buildup and wear and tear. If there are corrosions, which first occur in the seams and connections, the unit is less efficient because of the air leaks.
You can simply wipe away the dust and lint with a cloth; however, molds may also grow on the vents, making it trickier to do the cleaning. Make sure that you wear gloves and masks to avoid inhaling mold spores.
Inhaling mold spores can result in coughing, itchy eyes, restricted breathing, and other symptoms similar to asthma attacks.
You can use a utility brush and a detergent to scrub off molds from vents. You may also want to follow up with a disinfectant (bleach) to prevent future mold growth.
- Check your thermostat.
If you want to check if your thermostat is working properly, compare its temperature reading and the portable temperature sensors.
Meanwhile, your thermostat should be placed toward the center of your house, away from appliances that emit heat, air vents, and windows and doors.
- Check your AC electrical connections.
While it is best to consult an HVAC technician if you need electrical maintenance or repair, there are still some things you can do. For instance, you can use an air compressor or simply dust off debris or dead insects that have gotten inside the electrical enclosure (but before you do this, make sure that you have already shut off the power to your AC system).
By keeping the electrical connections free of debris, you can eliminate the risk of fire, short circuit, and failure.