Home is where life happens. Keeping it running smoothly keeps everything happy! One of the most used systems in the home is the central air conditioning unit, especially in the Florida heat. Many times homeowners take their ac units for granted because they are quietly pumping cool air. It’s when they stop that we take notice! Regular maintenance to your Central A/C Unit can not only keep it running longer but will save you money too. Brian Lucas, HVAC pro and owner of Rainbow Lakes Heating & Air Conditioning says “Regular maintenance not only saves you money, it keeps your ac unit at its highest efficiency longer.”
AC units actually are Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Systems we call HVAC. There are a variety in use today, some are strictly air conditioning and these are found in older homes. Others consist of a furnace and air conditioning unit called Central Heat and Air that uses a heat pump as well as an air conditioning system. Each of these will have an interior unit (an evaporator & blower) and an external unit (condenser coils & compressor). Do-it-yourself (DIY) maintenance can help keep professional maintenance costs minimal. We recommend an annual system check to keep your house protected under the manufacturers’ warranty.
Here are some tips every homeowner should heed to keep your air conditioner fixer at bay:
Always turn the power off when doing any maintenance to your HVAC system.
1 – Clear The Debris. Make sure that the area around your HVAC condenser unit is free from any yard debris. Rake leaves and trim any shrubbery touching the unit.
2 – Clean The Fins. With the fan removed, you have access to the fins from the inside of the compressor unit, use a strong stream from a regular garden hose and spray and dirt or debris from the fins. DO NOT USE A PRESSURE WASHER. If the fins are excessively dirty, you can use a commercial cleaner available at your local home improvement store. This is also a good time to straighten the fins. The easiest way to do this is by using a butter knife or straightening tool (you can find at your local home improvement store). Be mindful of the rubber tubing embedded within the fins. When finished replace the fan.
3 – Level The Unit. The pad that the condenser unit sits on will settle over time. Checking it for level every year will help keep the air conditioning unit working most efficiently. Use rot-resistant shims to bring it back to level. “The one exception is for homes with heat pumps,” says Rainbow Lakes Service Pro Lucas, “keeping them at a slight slope helps water run off when the unit defrosts.”
4 – Clear Drain Pipe. Your AC drips water constantly because of condensation from cooling the air your home. There is a drain pipe that goes from the air handler, inside your home, to the outside usually near your AC unit. This pipe can easily become clogged with algae, which grows because of the constant moisture. We recommend pouring a cap full of bleach (about 1 tablespoon) down the pipe at the air handler. This will kill any algae that form throughout the month.
You may run into a problem of a clogged drain pipe every once and a while. If this is the case, you will need to find the drain line where it leaves the coils (this is usually a 1” PVC pipe), follow it to where it ends, outside near the condenser unit. Put the end of the drain into the hose from a wet/dry shop vac and wrap with a rag or duct tape to get a good seal and turn it on, let it run for 2-3 minutes. This will clear the line of any algae that may have grown, therefore clearing the line for more water.
5 – Change The Filter. Change your filter at least once every 60 days. If your home is in an area that is particularly dusty you might change it every 30 days. Always replace the old filter with a new AC unit filter with the same airflow rating. Be careful when using the HEPA filters because they may restrict airflow causing the indoor coils to freeze. You may need a screwdriver to loosen the screws that hold the filter door in place.
Once you are finished, turn the power back on.
Annual professional maintenance to your home central air conditioning or HVAC unit should be performed by a service pro. Warranty options for the air conditioning units vary per manufacturer, but most of them require registration and maintenance by a professional air conditioner fixer like Rainbow Lakes Heating and Air Conditioning. You can reach us at 352-489-6673 or Contact Us!