3 Central Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

A home without air conditioning in the summer can quickly become unlivable. Unfortunately, many homeowners don't think about air conditioner maintenance until it's too late. Even if your air conditioner is running smoothly right now, there could be hidden problems that will lead to reduced efficiency or even a breakdown. Here are three central air conditioner maintenance tips that can keep your system in good shape for years to come.

Clean the Evaporator Coils

In a traditional split-system, the central AC condenser is located in a metal housing outside, and the evaporator coils can be found inside directly above the furnace. When you run your air conditioner, the blower motor inside the furnace blows air without heating it, while the evaporator coils circulate coolant to cool the air.

Over time, your evaporator coils can become corroded. As the corrosion covers the coils, they are unable to cool air properly because the corrosion prevents the transfer of heat from the air to the coils. Inspecting and cleaning the evaporator coils on a yearly basis will help you avoid this problem and ensure that your system is always cooling at maximum capacity.

Evaporator coils are easy for homeowners to access, and cleaning them isn't difficult. To start the process, first turn off the power to your HVAC system by setting the thermostat to the "Off" position and switching off the furnace breaker. Remove the screws holding the furnace access panel in place. You should see the evaporator coils above the furnace arranged in an A-frame shape with a drain pan under them.

You can clean the evaporator coils using foaming coil cleaner purchased at a local home improvement store. Spray the cleaner directly onto the coils, taking extra care to reach all areas where corrosion is visible. Allow the cleaner to sit on the coils for the amount of time recommended on the can, and then use a stiff bristle brush to scrub the coils thoroughly.

Clean or Change the Furnace Filter

Most central HVAC systems have a single filter that cleans all of the air that passes into your home's ductwork. This is the furnace filter, and it can be found inside of your furnace panel. Inspecting your furnace filter at least once a month is a good way to maintain the efficiency of your system. Depending on the type of filter that you have, you should clean or replace it if it is coated in a thick layer of dust.

Clogged furnace filters cause problems for your central air conditioner in two ways: they are no longer able to filter dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants out of the air in your home, and they reduce efficiency by blocking airflow and forcing your system to work harder to circulate air.

Maintain Condenser Airflow

As the only part of your HVAC system that is exposed to the elements, your condenser is more susceptible to problems than other parts of the system. One of the most common problems is airflow blockage from weeds, dirt and other debris. Cleaning the condenser regularly is paramount to maintain your air conditioner's efficiency.

The condenser has aluminum fins on the sides of the housing that must remain clear to promote adequate airflow. The most basic condenser maintenance step is to keep grass and weeds trimmed away from the sides of the condenser. For dirt that has lodged itself between the fins, you can use a commercial coil cleaner to dissolve the blockages or manually remove them using a specialized tool called a fin comb.

Basic central air conditioner maintenance is a task that is within the reach of any homeowner. Keep these tips in mind to maximize the lifespan of your air conditioner and avoid paying high energy bills due to an inefficient HVAC system. Contact a company that specializes in the best heating and air conditioning services for more information.