Have you had your air conditioning unit serviced yet? If not, it’s not too late. “Better late than never,” is a great philosophy to live by when it comes to servicing your a/c unit.
Air conditioning in the home definitely becomes a necessity rather than a luxury once the temperature begins reaching 90 degrees consistently. That is not the time to realize your air conditioning system is not working correctly.
There are some things you can do and some things that will require a professional. To become more educated on the subject, I contacted Tim Swan of Swan Heating and Air Conditioning in Fort Collins, CO and picked his brain. He said there are some things you can do before calling in a professional and paying a service charge.
If your air conditioner was working fine at the end of last summer then you probably just have a minor problem that’s preventing it from working this year. For example, the filter may need cleaned or replaced. Or sometimes people forget that they switched the a/c breaker to “off” last fall, so just need to turn it back on.
Checking the filter should be a regular duty throughout the hot season. Once a month you should open the door to the unit where the filter is and clean it or replace it.
Measure the opening and buy filters that fit the space exactly. You insert them according to the arrows on the filter, similar to replacing a furnace filter.
A word of caution- always disconnect the power to the a/c unit before working on it. Also, if you’re uncomfortable or unsure of what to do with circuit breakers or fuses, don’t touch them. This is a good time to bring in someone familiar with them to check your system.
If the unit is making noise then you should check the fan. Different kinds of debris, like leaves or weeds, can get clogged up in there and cause some damage to the fan. If the fan blade isn’t fixed or replaced timely, it can result in expensive repairs needing done to the unit.
The fan motor should also be lubricated if necessary. You’ll need to remove the fans to do this on some models (don’t forget to first turn off the power!).
Here’s an easy one- clean the outside of the unit. Vacuum and blow away all the leaves, animal hair, dirt, etc. that are clogging the outer fins on the machine. Remove weeds or other vegetation growing too close to the a/c unit.
Concerning the fins- straighten any that are bent. If the fins are bent, it can restrict proper air flow. Most home supply stores, such as Lowe’s, Ace Hardware or The Home Depot, sell fin combs.
You should also check to make sure the a/c unit is still level. The movement of the air conditioner can cause it to become un-level. This can cause it to run less efficiently.
Many air conditioners that are over 10 years old use R-22 Refrigerant as its cooling agent. The federal government is soon eliminating production of R-22 completely, meaning that an A/C that uses it will be useless without it.
This is the time to contact and consult a professional. For example, a Widget 72 Degrees System Rejuvenation is conducted by many HVAC companies, including Swan’s.
This is a multi-point inspection of the a/c system. It includes a system cleaning, adjustment, lubrication AND adding R-22 if needed. This is crucial to take care of now before the price of R-22 skyrockets and before it is discontinued all-together.
These tips should all be considered when you’re considering air conditioning service. Even though it’s already the beginning of summer, it’s never too late to get them taken care of- either by yourself or an air conditioning service professional.
– Terry Schuman