Here in south Louisiana our air conditioning systems are REALLY important to us! Sitting in your home in 95° August heat with 99% humidity and a busted air conditioner is no fun. Here are a few helpful tips that any homeowner can perform themselves to keep their air conditioning system running cleanly and efficiently with minimal downtime:
CHANGE YOUR FILTER MONTHLY:
This is possibly the simplest, and most often overlooked step you can take to keep your AC system running well. Not only does a clean filter keep your evaporator coil and ductwork running cleanly and efficiently, it can also prevent condensate leaks in your system. When the filter becomes dirty it restricts the flow of air being drawn into the return of your air handler. When that happens, the air handler will draw air into the unit from anywhere, including the condensate line. If condensate is inside the condensate line it can be sucked back into theevaporator coil to the point that it overflows the pan and leaks out of the system. This leads to leaks, stains on walls and ceilings or worse. Changing the filter regularly is an easy way to prevent this unfortunate situation.
INSULATE THE CONDENSATE LINE:
Most evaporator coils are located in attics or closets which are relatively warm and humid. When they operate they create condensation which is drained outside of the system through a condensate line, usually a white PVC plastic pipe. This condensate, and the condensate drain line it is in, is very cold. When the cold line comes into contact with the hot humid air in the attic condensation will begin to form on the outside of the drain line which can drip on attic insulation, drywall ceilings and walls. This slow, constant dripping can lead to stains, damaged building materials and biological growth. To prevent this condition simply insulate the condensate drain line with common pipe insulation that can be found at any hardware store or home center.
INSULATE THE CONDENSER REFRIGERANT LINE:
The condensing unit is the part of your air conditioning system that is installed outside your home. It draws in heated refrigerant from the evaporator coil and condenses it to release the heat from inside your home to the outside, thus cooling your home. After condensing the gas it returns it through the larger copper pipe back into the evaporator coil, and the cycle repeats. The colder the refrigerant is when it returns to the coil, the more efficient the coil will be in drawing heat out of the house. To maximize efficiency, and reduce the possibility of drips from condensation on the exterior of the pipe (similar to the condensation drain line), maintain the insulation on this pipe outside the house and in the attic. This will keep the line as cool as possible, helping your system run more efficiently and affordably.
CLEAN THE CONDENSER COILS:
The condensing unit uses a powerful fan to draw outside air through the condensing coils and then discharges it out of the top of the unit. This tends to draw in air-born dust, grass, leaves and debris into the fins of the coils which can clog them and reduce the cooling capacity of the unit by up to 90%! To safely clean the condenser coils, you must first disconnect the condenser from its power source by turning off the breaker or removing the disconnect lug from the disconnect box. If you are not sure how to do this, or feel uncomfortable doing it, hire a professional! Once the power is disconnected, rinse the debris out of the coils using a garden hose and moderate pressure (NOT high pressure which can damage the fins on the coils). When finished, turn the power back on. This simple exercise should be repeated as needed to keep the system running efficiently and cooling at maximum capacity.
These simple DIY tips can go a long way toward keeping your air conditioning system working well and minimizing downtime during those dog days of summer. For more helpful tips or to schedule an inspection of your home please visit our website!