An air conditioner’s filters, coils, fins, drains and electrical system all require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service.
Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.
From our own experience there is no doubt that air conditioning units that have been professionally maintained on a regular basis far outlast systems that have been neglected. We are servicing systems today that we installed over 10 years ago, and they are still running as well as the day they were installed. On the other hand we get called out to systems that are only 2 or 3 years old that have been neglected and are breaking down.
Air Conditioning Filters
One of the simplest and most important maintenance tasks that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.
Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air conditioning system’s filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house.
Air Conditioning Coils
The air conditioner’s evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, the evaporator coil should be professionally deep cleaned at least once a year.
Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty, like the unit pictured above, if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins. The condenser coil should be inspected regularly and any loose debris carefully brushed off. Similarly to the evaporator coil, it should professionally cleaned with high pressure nitrogen and specialist coil cleaning fluids at least once a year.
Clogged drain channels and pumps prevent a unit from reducing humidity, and cause water leaks. Water leaks are probably the most common and easily avoidable fault of an air con unit. A proper air conditioning maintenance routine will vastly reduce the chance of leaking air con units.
Over a period of time the electrical connections on your air conditioning unit can loosen. This can lead to greater risk of electrocution and the potential of fire. As part of the air conditioning maintenance, a professional engineer will check and tighten all connections.
There are several ways to identify that your air conditioner service is overdue:
- The unit isn’t cooling or warming as well as it used to.
- The airflow isn’t as powerful as it used to be.
- The unit has an unpleasant smell when running.
- The unit is noisier than normal.
- The unit has developed a rattle.
- There are signs of a water leak.
These are the signs that the unit is starting to fail; and it’s time to get it professionally serviced asap to prevent a more serious and costly breakdown.
If you have several air conditioners on your site (12kW or more total rated output) you probably fall in to a category where you are legally obliged to have your air conditioning system inspected. This is called a TM44 inspection and you can read more about it here.
Landlords, building owners and a businesses responsible person will also need to be compliant of the F-Gas regulations. These obligations come in to force for a system with just 3kg or more of refrigerant. A system is the total of all the air conditioning units in the building, not just 1 single unit. One sizeable air conditioner alone will hold more than 3kg of refrigerant and 3 or 4 of the smallest ones will also trigger your compliance with the F-Gas regulations of regular air conditioning maintenance, leak testing inspections and supporting documentation.
Hiring a Professional
The installation of your air conditioning system is a major investment. To prolong the life and efficiency of your air conditioner it needs regular maintenance by a professional service technician. A well-trained technician will find and fix many minor problems that will prevent future failure and costly repairs.