After a long cold winter, summer is finally here. Time to break out the patio furniture and fire up that barbecue grill. It is also time to get your central air conditioning system or window air conditioners ready for action.
Central air conditioners basically have two major components: the evaporator and condenser. The evaporator is mounted just above the furnace in the plenum and the condenser is usually located outside the house.
The evaporator and condenser are sealed. Therefore, I would recommend that you hire a professional service person to clean and inspect your A/C system prior to every cooling season. However, there are some simple maintenance tasks that you can do yourself.
First and foremost, make sure you are changing your air filter every 1 to 3 months throughout the cooling (and heating) season. This is really important and it is often forgotten, as it is one of those “out of sight-out of mind” issues.
To be more specific:
Average suburban household without pets (dog or cat): every 3 months.
Average suburban household with a pet: every 2 months.
Average suburban household with more than one pet or you have allergies…every month.
If you live in a dusty area, you may have to change your filter once a month, regardless.
Here are some tips on maintaining your condenser:
1. Remove any grass or shrubbery that may be around your condenser, as this can obstruct the
2. Clean condenser with a commercial coil cleaner, available at refridgerator supply stores.
3. Clean fins with a soft brush to remove accumulated dirt. You may have to remove the
protective grille. Do not use a garden hose, as this can turn the dirt into mud and compact
4. If fins are bent, straighten them with a fin comb available at most appliance parts stores.
5. Make sure the pad on which the condenser rests is level. If not, lift it with a pry bar and
place some gravel/rocks under it.
If you have window air conditioners, make sure you remove the front grille and clean your filter as often as mentioned above. This can usually be done with a brush. Many air conditioners have a washable filter that looks like sponge rubber. Clean this type of filter with water and a little bit of household detergent. Make sure it is completely dry before re-installing.
And lastly, clean the inside of your window A/C with a vacuum cleaner.
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