This has been a month of record-breaking temperatures throughout so much of North America.
While thankfully here in Ontario we are sufficiently far north to be spared the upper temperature extremes, there is no doubt it is still hotter than is comfortable.
Enter your hero, the air conditioner! Your A/C has been working hard all summer to keep you cool and protect your home from heat and humidity-related damage.
As such, now is the time to schedule late-summer maintenance, in order to make sure it will be good to finish the season but also take care of you next summer.
Clean Away A/C Debris, Dirt and Dust
There is a reason the air conditioner is never placed up front and center inside or outside a home. It is not that attractive and no one really wants to look at it.
But this “out of sight, out of mind” placement can also mean you end up with one dirty, dusty A/C unit at the end of a long hot summer.
All kinds of airborne debris can get sucked into your air conditioning unit along with the air. Pollen, dust, dirt, debris, small insects, leaf litter and other floating detritus can accumulate inside the condenser coils, the blower motor and other key components.
The more you cycle your air conditioner, the more potential there is for this detritus to build up. In time, it can cause clogs that actually prevent the components from working properly.
Change or Clean A/C Filters and Fans
Changing the air filter in your A/C unit is crucial but so easy to forget about.
Yet all that same airborne detritus we just talked about can get so packed into your air conditioner filter that it starts impeding air flow.
As debris gets sucked inside your air conditioner, it can build up inside the blower fan itself, causing an eventual blockage and breakdown.
The easiest way to minimize the amount of debris that makes it inside the components of the A/C unit is to keep your air filter clean, which means changing it regularly (ideally every 30 days during high-use months).
Clean Off Those A/C Coils
Your air conditioner has two sets of coils: the outside condenser coils and the inside evaporator coils.
Both sets of coils need to be checked and cleaned regularly. Unfortunately, it is typically not a simple or quick task to access and clean either set of condenser coils unless you are a pro or already have the right tools and know-how.
To make this task even less pleasant, if this maintenance hasn’t been done recently, it can be pretty dirty work to clean all that crud off the coils.
But it is vitally important to keep both sets of coils clean and clear so they can do their job of moving heat around to keep your home cool.
Clear the A/C Drain Pan & Line
There are two major A/C maintenance needs that should never be neglected: keeping the main drain line clear (and the drain pan dry) and keeping the refrigerant topped up.
The most common reason that a drain line gets clogged is algae growth or other accumulated debris blocking the line. This isn’t necessarily because you’ve neglected your A/C. It is typically a function of what occurs when fungi and humidity come together in an enclosed space.
But if the air conditioner’s main drain line gets clogged or blocked and backs up, this will cause your drain pan to fill up with water and the whole system to shut down. So from time to time, it is vital to clean and clear the drain line so it can do its job well.
Stop Refrigerant Leaks
Refrigerant is necessary for both heating and cooling, but it is a potent toxin and thus must be handled with care.
Unlike other types of fluids (such as the oil you put in your car), refrigerant doesn’t normally need to be “topped off.” The only reason refrigerant levels might start to get low is if your A/C unit springs a leak somewhere inside.
If the refrigerant springs a leak and it goes undetected until the refrigerant levels are very low, it is possible that your air conditioner will overheat and freeze.
You have two options when you notice your refrigerant levels are declining. The first, which is only viable if the leak appears very minor, is to “top up” the refrigerant and just keep watching it. The second is to call a pro to fix the leak.
Clean or Replace Those A/C Contactors and Capacitors
Two lesser-known components inside the standard A/C system are contactors and capacitors.
These two parts tag-team to help the compressor do its job. A capacitor is like a battery – it sends power to the blower motor, fan and compressor. A contactor is like a switch – it turns the A/C unit on and off.
Both the capacitors and the contactors are located in the outside component of the A/C system, which makes them particularly vulnerable to clogs from dirt and other debris.
Typically, when these parts wear out (which they are prone to do every few years), they will get replaced as a part of routine preventative A/C maintenance.
Get in Touch
Is it time to reward your hard-working air conditioner with some restorative, preventative maintenance? We can help!
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