April 28, 2015
Even though temps have been fickle this April, May and warmer temperatures are just around the corner. That means it’s time to check your air conditioner now to see if any problems need to be fixed.
The best thing you can do for your air conditioner is to replace the filter. “Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.”
Homeowners can take several steps to prepare their A/C units for summer:
Clear the area around your outside unit. Make sure leaves, dirt and other debris aren’t collecting in the bottom of the unit. If your air conditioner sits on a concrete pad, dig out the dirt around the pad so the unit won’t get muddy during a storm. Trim foliage back to give at least 2 feet of space around the unit to make sure it gets adequate air flow.
Hose down the air conditioner to remove winter dirt. Throughout the season, keep an eye out for more debris — especially if you live near cottonwood trees. The cotton from seedings can make your air conditioner look like it’s been wrapped in a blanket.
Straighten coil fins. “The aluminum fins on evaporator and condenser coils are easily bent and can block airflow through the coil,” says the DoE. Air conditioning wholesalers sell a tool called a “fin comb” that will comb these fins back into nearly original condition.
Check window seals. If you have a window air conditioner, inspect the seal between the unit and the window frame to make sure that winter moisture hasn’t damaged the seal.
Other maintenance tasks should be performed by a professional service technician. According to the DOE, your technician should:
- Check for correct amount of refrigerant.
- Test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector.
- Capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system, instead of illegally releasing it to the atmosphere.
- Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems.
- Measure airflow through the evaporator coil.
- Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously.
- Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary.
- Oil motors and check belts for tightness and wear.
- Check the accuracy of the thermostat.
If you have any questions about your air conditioning system, please give our inspectors a call at 402-393-3696 in Omaha or 402-483-2010 in Lincoln.