If you’ve never conducted maintenance on your air conditioning unit, be concerned. Especially if you’ve had it for a few years! Air conditioning maintenance is essential to the unit’s longevity and health, and not taking care of it can result in costly side effects. After all, for most of our clients, the AC or HVAC system is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Parts wear out. Filters need replacing. Without the proper upkeep, you’re setting yourself up for expensive disasters.
BHS has been taking care of southwest Florida since 1980. We’ve served customers across Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties where we’ve seen every AC issue you could ever imagine. Many of them were caused by negligence toward minor maintenance needs that escalated into a much bigger problem with a much bigger price tag.
We don’t like our clients breaking the bank on repairs, and neither do they, which is why we’ve put together a comprehensive article about air conditioning maintenance. Everything you need to know about taking care of your AC or HVAC, BHS explains right here.
General Air Conditioning Maintenance You Can Do Yourself
The good news is that you don’t have to be MacGyver to take care of your AC. In fact, there are many do-it-yourself (DIY) habits that can help you get more years out of your unit(s), prevent costly AC problems, and even save money on monthly energy bills!
Tip 1: Keeping Your Air Conditioning Filter Clear
Your air conditioning filters should be replaced as frequently as every month (especially if you have pets). This is the best and most important habit you can ever acquire when taking care of your air conditioning or HVAC system. However, if you maintain a clean household, you may be able to make a filter last two or even three months. Keep in mind that you’ll have to replace your filter more often during hotter months when the cooling system is more active.
The best way to gauge when to replace a filter is by checking your filter every 30 days. You’ll be able to recognize when a filter is dirty because it will be clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris. If you can still see through the filter, you know that air is passing through. If it looks like a wall of dust bunnies, it’s time to change your filter—pronto. This is an easy air conditioning maintenance task you can perform on your own to prevent bigger problems.
The location of your AC filter varies depending on the type of air conditioning system you’re using. For central heating and air, the filters are typically found along the length of the return duct. For other systems, you should easily be able to locate the filters behind vents located in the walls, ceilings, furnaces, or even the air conditioning itself. If you have a mounted AC unit inside your room, the filter should be located within the grill.
You may wonder, “Why are AC filters so important?” The reason filters are so essential to your AC system’s operation is because it regulates the airflow throughout your home. Because the air has to run through the filter, any obstruction is going to make it more difficult for the air in your home to circulate. Also, the air that does pass through can bring dust and debris with it, which can impair or even damage your evaporator coil.
In response, your system is going to work harder in order to compensate. This can increase your energy consumption by up to 15%! Trust us, you’ll notice that kind of difference on your energy bill.
Tip 2: Cleaning Out Your Condensate Drains
The condensate drain is a line that releases the condensation produced by the evaporator coil. It runs from your AC unit to the outside of your house. A condensate pan is typically located beneath the unit, which captures the condensation that is then directed out through the drainage line. It’s important to keep this drainage line clean or else algae and mold can start to grow inside. When this happens, the new growth can clog the drainage line.
Keep an eye on this drainage line to make sure it’s draining properly. If it doesn’t, the condensation can build up inside the condensate pan and flood the unit or surrounding area.
In order to clean this drainage pipe, turn off your AC unit and use a wet/dry shop vacuum to suck out the obstruction. Let the vacuum run for a minute before checking to see if it has successfully dislodged the blockage. You can then flush the drainage pipe with distilled vinegar.
This task is perhaps the single biggest cause of air conditioning maintenance calls we receive. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, call in one of our professional BHS technicians. We’ll be happy to help you out!
Tip 3: Taking Care Of Your Air Conditioner’S Coils
Your air conditioner has two important coils: the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. Your evaporator coil is responsible for collecting heat from your indoor air. The condenser coil does the opposite. It releases heat into the outdoor air.
As we mentioned before, a clean air filter can go a long way in keeping these guys clean of dust and debris. However, over time they will still get dirty. When dust, dirt, and other particles begin to gather on these coils, it starts to insulate them, making it harder for the coils to absorb heat and release heat.
For indoor coils, it’s best to have them checked on an annual basis by a professional AC or HVAC technician. If they’re dirty upon check, have them cleaned. This can be done during scheduled annual air conditioning maintenance visits.
For condenser coils, the maintenance is much higher. It’s much more difficult to control the cleanliness of an outdoor environment than an indoor one. However, you’ll want to try to keep the area around the condenser unit as free of dirt and debris as possible. Lawnmowers are often huge contributors to dirtying up this coil, as well as fallen leaves from foliage and debris from dryer vents. Also, if you keep your foliage trimmed at least 2 feet back from the condenser, it will help ensure your condenser receives the right amount of airflow to operate properly.
Condenser coils are easy to spot, so you can determine quickly whether or not they are dirty. If dirt is collecting on its fins, you’ll want to clean them. Note that there are coil fins on both the evaporator and condenser coils. The aluminum fins bend easy. The issue with this is when they get bent the wrong way, blocking airflow through the coil. Air conditioning technicians use a tool called a fin comb to bend these fins back into place.
Schedule Annual Maintenance Visits
Some homeowners avoid scheduling maintenance visits. They think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While this line of thinking works for some areas of life, we don’t suggest it in the realm of air conditioning maintenance and repair, especially in the extreme heat of Florida.
You don’t refuse to change the oil in your car just because it’s running fine, right? Your air conditioning unit works the same way. It requires maintenance to keep efficiently chugging on. Without it, things wear out and eventually break. You may not notice it at first. After all, many parts work “behind the scenes,” in an area that’s out of sight. However, as parts start to wear down, they don’t work as well. Eventually, they stop functioning or break completely.
Suddenly, a small fix has become a big problem that costs significantly more than it would have before.
Annual air conditioning maintenance appointments help prevent that from happening. For a small fee, a technician comes out and performs a series of tasks that check on and maintain your AC or HVAC system.
Things Every Well-Trained Technician Should Do On An Air Conditioning Maintenance Visit
Here is a list of things a technician should do each time they come to conduct air conditioning maintenance on your unit:
Inspect the refrigerant levels to make sure the correct amount is within the unit
- Test for refrigerant leaks
- Capture any refrigerant that needs to be removed from the system and dispose of it properly
- Check for duct leakages
- Seal any duct leakages in central systems
- Measure the evaporator coil’s airflow
- Inspect the electric control sequence to ensure the heating and cooling systems are unable to operate simultaneously
- Inspect electric terminals
- Clean and tighten up any loose connections
- Apply a nonconductive coating on any connections where it’s needed
- Oil the motors
- Check the belts for any wear or tightness
- Check the thermostat to ensure it is communicating accurately with the unit and the user
HIRE THE RIGHT HVAC TECHNICIANS FOR THE JOB
Okay, so maybe this should sound like common sense. However, too often we discover clients who have been mistreated or misinformed by technicians who were either ill-equipped for the job or didn’t have the client’s best interests in mind. That’s why we stress the importance of finding the right team for the job.
A little research goes a long way in deciding whether a certain air conditioning maintenance or other home services company in southwest Florida is good to use. After all, our hot climate makes them a dime a dozen in this region. Start by looking into a company’s reputation before you hire them.
Are they in the business of pleasing the customer or their own gain?
Check out what past clients are saying about the AC business. Were they satisfied with their service? Did they have any problems? Don’t just look at the overall “star rating.” Read the feedback. Do you notice any trends in customer service, professionalism, arrival times, and reliability? Even if a company has a decent rating if you see they’re getting negative feedback on the same kind of problems over and over again, steer away from them.
Also, look into what the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has to say about their business. Are they rated well or poorly? The BBB is tasked to rate the reputation of a company and their ability to manage customer complaints and resolutions. Their ratings carry quite a bit of weight and can provide an unbiased picture of how the business you’re researching operates.
There are also other indicators of good business, such as awards and certifications. Consider what mission they base their company around, too. Are they in the business of pleasing the customer or their own gain?
The Best Home Services Difference
We are known for:
- 5 Star, Award Winning Service
- Consistent Customer Satisfaction
- Employing Trained, Certified, and Trustworthy Technicians
- Making Your Service Visit Pleasant and Easy
Having been locally owned and operated since 1980, we have a steady reputation for getting the job done well and treating our clients right. Our service area has grown to include several cities in southwest Florida, including Naples, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, Marco Island, Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, and Sarasota.
In need of an air conditioning maintenance call, repair, or installation? Give BHS a call! With 24/7 emergency service and no overtime charges you can count on us to go the extra mile to take care of you.