Air conditioning is like good home cooking. If you are suddenly without it, life can be harder to bear. Just like the family cook, the air conditioner should be well taken care of and never taken for granted. As with anything else, preventive maintenance is always the best maintenance. This article will go through some basic tips on maintaining and fixing an air conditioner.
There are some things you can do before needing to call the air conditioning repair person.
Tip 1 — Check the Area around the Air Conditioner Unit
Before the air conditioning seasoning starts, check the area around the air conditioner. Is there a lot of plant growth? Is there chipping or falling paint in the area? Are there signs of animals digging around the area?
The early spring is a good time to trim back trees and bushes; and they should be checked throughout the season for over-growth. Painted wood that is chipping or peeling above the air conditioner unit should at least be scraped and sealed to keep it from dropping debris on the air conditioner unit. If there are signs of excessive digging by animals around the unit, animal control should be consulted on the best way to dissuade nuisance animals from that area.
Tip 2 — Clean Out the Air Conditioner
First check the filter, and clean if necessary. Check the owner's manual for tips on periodic maintenance or light repair. Before doing the cleaning of the air conditioner, make sure the electrical circuit feeding it is turned off. Remove the protective grill carefully, then check for any debris or built up grime. Make sure, with a window unit, that you use a soft brush or the brush attachment on a vacuum hose. For an outdoor unit for central air conditioning, you can use a hose to carefully clean out the fins of leaves and debris. In either case, make sure you do not damage any wiring. You may also need to lubricate the turnings of the motor, make sure you use the manufacturer's recommended lubricant and that you don't use too much lubricant, causing a mess and possibly attracting dirt and debris.
Make sure you carefully lay out any parts you clean, so that you can properly put them back. Be sure to read the manual very carefully about cleaning of parts, and which parts are safe to clean by the homeowner. If you do not have the manual, then go online to the manufacturer's web site to download the manual. Chances are the manufacturer has a pdf file of the manual.
Tip 3 — Checking the Pipes
After cleaning the air conditioner and putting the parts back together, check the pipes after running the unit for a while. Turn off the unit before checking the pipes. One pipe should be warmer that the other, if not you will have to call the air conditioning repair person.
Tip 4 — Checking the Thermostat
Turn off the air conditioner then remove cover to thermostat. Unscrew the wire connected to the Y terminal, then turn the power back on. Now touch the wire to the exposed end of the R terminal. You need to replace the thermostat if the air conditioner condenser motor turns on. If the thermostat checks out, then do the next check by holding the wires from the R and Y terminals together, with the power on. If the air conditioner motor does not turn on, then you need to call an air conditioning specialist. When checking wires, always make sure you are holding the insulated sections to avoid shock or short circuiting of wiring system.
Tip 5 — Don't Get Too Adventurous
If you are not a trained air conditioning technician, make sure you read the manual carefully. Only attempt repairs or maintenance projects outlined in the manual where it states it is OK for the owner to do. Getting too ambitious can cost you more in the long run.
Check out our website for a full list of professionals and contractors for your air conditioner repair and maintenance needs.