Annual A/C maintenance is too important to be left to either the homeowner or the HVAC contractor alone. Ensuring optimum efficiency and performance as well as maximum service life is a shared concern to both parties. Observing the manufacturer’s annual A/C maintenance schedule is also recommended to keep the unit's warranty in force. If you fail to perform the recommended annual maintenance, it is possible that valuable coverage may be lost—a very unpleasant prospect.
While many maintenance procedures on today’s air conditioners must be performed only by trained technicians, some are well within the reach of the average homeowner. Making annual and ongoing A/C maintenance a joint project with your HVAC contractor makes sure all bases are covered to keep you in cool comfort all summer long. Here’s how the responsibilities might be divided:
- Check the air filter once a month during cooling season and replace at least once every three months, or as needed. Comparatively, air filters are inexpensive — wasted electricity and component wear and tear from a dirty filter aren’t. This is the number one thing that a homeowner can do to protect against unexpected, costly repairs.
- Cut back weeds and other vegetation encroaching on the outdoor condenser unit. Leave at least two feet of clearance on all sides for proper ventilation.
- Turn off power to the outdoor condenser unit at the circuit breaker. Hose down the condenser coil to wash away dust accumulation and other debris.
- Verify that all supply and return vents in the home are unobstructed by furniture, drapes or anything else that can reduce airflow into or out of the room.
- Inspect indoor and outdoor coils for dust, dirt or mold contamination. Clean as required. Even if the home owner is doing this as described above, it can be a good idea to have a professional do it every 2-3 years since there are places that are difficult to get to without the proper equipment.
- Measure the refrigerant level in the system and detect leaks if it’s low. Owing to environmental reasons, refrigerants has become very expensive lately. Just "topping the unit off" with refrigerant is not only expensive it is environmentally wrong.
- Check the blower fan belt (really on only older systems) for proper tension and for wear.
- Inspect and tighten all electrical connections.
- Verify the airflow through the evaporator coil is adequate.
- Verify the calibration of the thermostat and test for proper operation.
- Visually inspect the ductwork for evidence of air leakage. Schedule a pressure testing procedure if duct leaks are suspected. This is a very handy test and if it has never been done, it is well worth the effort! It is much like having your doctor check your body's blood pressure.
- Restart the system and check the temperature rise between the supply ducts and the return ducts and compare to manufacturer’s specs.
P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling is Cleveland’s choice for cooling system sales and service. Prepare now for another long, hot summer. Call today to schedule annual A/C maintenance.photo credit: DaynaT
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.