Getting through the summer months without having to go a week or two without air conditioning can feel like an accomplishment, but many homeowners don’t realize that if you get to know your AC, you can prevent it from breaking down or needing to be replaced.
Not everyone knows a whole lot about air conditioning other than how to work a thermostat, so read on to get to know which AC unit you have and what you can do to take care of it.
Like with a car, there’s routine maintenance that you should do to keep your AC running like it’s brand new. Even if that means getting it checked out yearly, it could help you avoid situations like lacking air conditioning in the summer. That’s worth the time it takes to learn about maintenance or the money you’ll save for a professional.
The most common kind of air conditioning unit is the split system. Have you ever found a coil tucked inside a cabinet or closet in your house? That’s known as the evaporator coil. It removes heat and moisture from the air in your home and releases it outside.
Inside the home will be ducts and a blower to circulate the cold air throughout each room. It’s commonly installed because it’s economically friendly when combined with the ducts of a central furnace, which are in almost every home.
Typical maintenance for a split system would be checking your evaporator and condenser coils each year and replacing AC filters. Filters can be found at any local hardware and should be replaced when they’ve been filled with dirt and pet hair. Indoor and outdoor coils will also be noticeably dirty at the end of the year. Wipe them down and trim back any plants from your outdoor coil so they can continue working as they should.
A variation of the split system unit, heat pumps are good for cooling and heating your home in average climates. They pull heat from the outside in when your home needs to be warmed and release hot air when it should be cooled. If you live where it typically can get below freezing, you won’t find many heat pumps since they wouldn’t be effective for warming up your home.
Air filters are also used with heat pumps, so make sure to check them every few months and replace as needed. Heat pumps need the most maintenance on their outdoor unit. Dain holes should be inspected each winter and cleared of debris. You should also inspect the duct work to see if there’s been damage from bad weather or debris. Even little damages or clogs will add up, so if you see some and you’re concerned, call a professional to come and check it out for you.
Ductless Mini-Split Systems
If you’ve noticed that your home doesn’t have typical duct work, you probably have a ductless mini-split system. This system combines outdoor compressors and condensers with an indoor air-handling unit. They’re mounted up high on a wall and have attached blowers. You should be able to find tubing between the indoor and outdoor units, which is what circulates the refrigerant that keeps your home cool. There will also be an indoor unit in each room, like a window air conditioner.
Because this system lacks ducts, there’s slightly less maintenance to worry about. It’s smart to get your air conditioning checked each spring, but with a ductless system, you can do a quick check on your own. If you feel comfortable, take off the cover of your thermostat and inspect the wiring. See if the breakers control the thermostat by turning them off and on. If you can wrap the red and white wires together and hear the blower come on after turning the breaker back on, the thermostat is bad.
Packaged Central Air Conditioners
Once you know what an evaporator, compressor and condenser are, you’ll be able to tell if you have a packaged central air conditioner. This unit combines those three pieces into one machine located either on your roof or a solid piece of concrete on your property. It draws all its air from inside the house, cools it then returns the air into the house. Packaged conditioners are also used in small commercial buildings, since they can be combined with heating coils or a furnace.
There’s a big maintenance advantage to having a packaged air conditioner, because all of the unit parts will be in one place. You can clean off the unit and clear out any debris without needing to do it all over again in a separate location. There will still be ducts that need cleaning and inspection, but the overall work of inspecting a unit will be cut in half.
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It’s easy to take an air conditioning unit for granted. There’s cool air whenever you step inside a building, especially when that building is your home.
During the summer months, it’s crucial to know that your AC unit is working properly, since it will be a painful experience if it ends up completely breaking down. Not everyone can call in a professional for routine checks because those can be expensive.
Do some maintenance work on your AC unit yourself to save time and money. Check ducts for any clogs or damages. Wash off your unit and trim away foliage that might have grown around it that could damage it further.
Always stay on top of your air filter changes too, since a dirty filter will drastically change the quality of the air you’re breathing every day. Little things like this will make a big difference, so check your unit when you can to make life a breeze.
Image Credit: Pixabay
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