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The start of summer is the perfect time to perform a basic inspection of your homes cooling system using the following checklist as a guide.
1: AC Unit Filters
Inspection and replace filters in HVAC system.
Clogged or dirty filters can lead to numerous HVAC issues because the system will have to work harder to pull air into the system. If you are running the A/C often, check the filter at least every 3 months.
If the covers over the intakes in the house are coated with dust, that’s a sign the filters may need to be replaced. If the cover is caked in dust, odds are the filter underneath is absolutely clogged. By replacing these filters regularly, you will reduce the strain on the A/Cunit, reducing the chance that it will break down.
Because this is a recurring monthly maintenance item, you may want to have extra filters on hand. The primary filter on the air handling unit is more difficult to replace – you may want to have a professional do this one.
Most residential A/C units have an exterior condenser/compressor that is (typically) mounted in the building’s backyard area. These units serve to cool the refrigerant used in the air handling unit and to take in air to feed into the HVAC system.
When debris gets into the compressor or its housing, the efficiency of the A/C system plummets and it becomes more prone to sudden failure. So, one basic A/C repair task is to turn off the exterior condenser/compressor and to clean it. This is a multi-step process that involves:
The air ducts used to carry air throughout the HVAC system are one of the most-overlooked A/C repair issues that property managers encounter. HVAC system ducts with holes or blockages prevent the system from working as intended and may place extra strain on the air handling unit, which leads to premature failure.
Damage to A/C unit ducts can happen for several reasons, such as:
To prevent HVAC issues that require expensive repairs, it is necessary to check the air ducts for signs of damage. This is often easier in single-family residences, where the A/C system ducts are usually run through the attic’s crawlspace. In apartment buildings and other multifamily residences, this may be more difficult as the ducts may be in between floors that have no such crawlspace.
In an air conditioning unit, there will be small metal tubes that run from the exterior condenser/compressor to the air handling unit. These tubes carry the system’s refrigerant between the air handler and the condenser/compressor to help regulate temperatures in the residence.
If these refrigerant tubes leak, then the system will need professional HVAC repair as soon as possible. This is because, without refrigerant, the system will not be able to cool the residence at all. These A/C repairs often require a professional’s touch to safely handle the coolant and to ensure that future leaks are prevented.
While you’re checking the air conditioning unit’s interior air handler, you may want to turn off the system and inspect its evaporator coil. This may require you to remove some duct tape from the coil housing’s cover and/or loosen some screws.
Once open, look at the evaporator coil and check its condition. Some discoloration is typical. Here, you’ll want to make sure there is no dirt or debris on the coil. If the coil is dirty, clean it with a soft brush and spray it down with a specially formulated coil cleaner (often available at hardware specialty stores). The runoff from this cleaning will collect in the drain pan, so it will need to be cleaned out as well.
When cleaning out the drain pan, it may help to pour a bleach/water mixture down the drain to kill any bacteria and algae that may be growing. We recommend a 50/50 mixture of water and bleach for this task. As always, when handling bleach or other hazardous chemicals, be sure to wear goggles, gloves, and other protective gear to prevent skin irritation from contact with chemicals.
This HVAC maintenance checklist covers many of the basic A/C maintenance issues that can be easily addressed by non-experts. For major HVAC repairs, call Bergeman Plumbing & Heating at (715)376-2278 to schedule a home visit by a professional technician.