An air conditioner cannot function at its best if at least one of its parts isn’t working properly, and lack of maintenance is a common reason your AC’s performance gradually declines. Before you call for professional Maui air conditioner maintenance, keep in mind that there are small tasks that you can do on your own to ensure your unit’s health. In order to do good maintenance, you have to be intimate with the different parts of your cooling system.
An AC filter blocks microscopic particles (e.g. dust and pollen) from entering the unit. After a month, a significant amount of dirt accumulates in the filter and blocks normal airflow in the air conditioner, thereby reducing its efficiency. Dirty filters cannot clean your air properly. As a result, more dust accumulates on the evaporator coil, further reducing the system’s efficiency. Dust on the coil acts as an insulator that keeps the coil from absorbing as much heat as when it’s dust-free.
You have to clean your filters as often as needed, and at some point, you have to replace them. How often you need to clean and replace your air filters depends on the place where you live and whether or not you have pets. For an average home, cleaning or replacing the filter should be done once or twice a month. For big households with pets, cleaning may have to be done every two weeks. A clean filter lowers your AC energy consumption by up to 15%.
The location of filters varies depending on the type of air conditioning system. A central AC typically has filters in the return duct, which could be in the wall or ceiling. Some central air conditioners house the filter in the unit itself. Window units have filters in the grill facing the room; hence, it’s easier to remove the filter of room air conditioners.
There are two types of filters: washable and disposable filters.
Washable air filters, which usually have MERV rating of 1-4, catch large particles (e.g. dust and soot). You need to clean them every month. Dry the filter before installing it back into the unit to avoid bacteria and fungi to infest your unit. Washable filters can last for several years, but they have drawbacks. They’re expensive, and they can’t block very small air pollutants, like pet dander and bacteria. That means they aren’t good for people with house pets.
Disposable filters have MERV ratings as high as 16, which means they’re able to capture much smaller dust particles, pet dander, smoke, and microorganisms. There’s no maintenance job for this type of filter because you have to -- as the name implies -- throw them away when they’re dirty. How often you need to replace a disposable filter depends on what type you have. Cheap fiberglass filters should be replaced every month, but pleated polyester filters can last for 3-6 months.
AC coils and fins
Our Maui air conditioner maintenance team reports that these parts are the most often neglected -- sometimes for years! That’s sad because the coils keep collecting dirt over the years. You can slow down the accumulation of dirt on them by cleaning and replacing your filters regularly, but they eventually still get dirty. Even a thin film of dirt is enough to reduce the ability of the coils to absorb or release heat, and as you may have surmised, if the coils can’t absorb or release enough heat, your AC can’t function at its optimal.
You have to inspect the indoor unit and outdoor unit of your air conditioner at least once a year. The indoor unit is where you see the evaporator coil. That’s the coil that cools your air before releasing it back into your home. The outdoor unit has the compressor and condenser coil.
The indoor unit’s usual problems with its coils are dirt and frost, the latter being most likely the result of the former. There are many ways to clean the evaporator coil. You can use a vacuum or compressed air or use a brush and a commercial cleaner.
Whenever we see a dirty indoor unit, we can expect a much dirtier outdoor unit. I have seen condensers located in dirty corners of neglected backyards. Over the months, condensers suck in dirt, dead leaves, grass, and debris. All these unwanted things collect on the fins and choke the condenser. Remember the fins help to dissipate heat from the condenser coil, and all that dirt compromises the capability of the outdoor unit to disperse heat.
Your first line of defense against dirt and debris buildup in the condenser is clean surroundings. Trim the plants around it. Inspect it after a storm. Remove obstructions around it.
Cleaning the condenser, however, isn’t a difficult task. You can use a brush or a fin comb. You can use a garden nozzle to dislodge gunk on the condenser coil and fins.
Other Things to Do
1. Unclog your condensate drains. Drain channels accumulate sludge too. Clogged drains keep your unit from reducing humidity at home. Too much moisture in the air causes the growth of mold and pests. It also discolors your walls.
2. Inspect the seal between your window unit and its frame. This seal can get damaged and distorted over time and cause cooled air to exit.
3. Hire a professional Maui air conditioner technician. There are things that only professionals should do.
a) Inspect the system thoroughly
b) Do regular maintenance and tuneup
c) Fix electrical issues
d) Fix or replace a faulty compressor
e) Charge the refrigerant
f) Test for refrigerant leaks
g) Capture and contain refrigerant without releasing it into the atmosphere
h) Check the ductwork for leaks
i)Seal duct leaks
j) Assess airflow
k) Check electric terminals
l) Check electrical connections within the unit
m) Assess the motors to wear
n) Assess thermostat accuracy
The list goes on. The rule is, if you don’t know how to do it, ask someone who does. Don’t dismantle an AC unit and fiddle with its parts if you don’t know what you’re doing and what you’re touching. Besides, your HVAC system needs to be seen by a licensed contractor every once in a while.
Pacific Air Conditioning has been keeping air conditioners on Maui in its best working condition. Call us at 808-244-0161 if you need professional HVAC maintenance.