Air Conditioning

How Often Does an Air Conditioner Need a Service?

Posted on How Often Does  an Air Conditioner Need a Service?

How Often Does  an Air Conditioner Need a Service?

Many of us have a home air conditioning unit.  It is a vital addition to many homes, if you live in a hot climate.  If you have children, it is important to keep them cool in hot weather, and the same applies for the elderly as well.  However, it is much more pleasant for all of us to have a home where you can regulate the temperature as we choose.

We are adding more and more electrical items to our homes all the time.  Computers, television, games consoles, lights, all these items give our heat.  Our homes can become oppressively hot as a result of the heat that these items generate as well as the heat from the weather.  Home air conditioning units have become much more energy efficient in recent years.  Many people worry about the cost of installing such a unit, because of prohibitive energy costs.  However, modern units have been developed to reduce energy consumption by up to 50%.

Research has pointed to the value of a home air conditioning unit, as a health benefit as well as for our preference to feel cooler.  Many homes are built to ensure adequate heat retention, so they have done their jobs too well.  Homes can become oppressively hot in periods of warm weather.  In the UK, there was a heatwave in 2003 and 2000 people died as a result of the heat.

Many more people are working from home thanks to links from the internet and other digital innovations.  It can be oppressive to work in an environment that is too hot, and research shows that workers are more productive when working in an ambient temperature.  Your electrical equipment will also work more effectively if it is cooled down.  Computers, printers and your IT equipment will all benefit from the cooled air that a home air conditioning unit provides.

So, home air conditioning units are a much more popular household item than ever before.  Like any other household appliance, a home air conditioning unit can break down.  It also needs regular maintenance to ensure optimum performance.   How are the best ways to approach air conditioning repairs?  How often do we need to use air conditioning maintenance?  We will look at some of the options available, so that you can get the most out of your unit.


Air conditioning services

If you have purchased your air conditioning system recently, it may be covered by a warranty.  In this case, the professional engineer will arrange a time to come to your home and check your unit over.  They can make recommendations about how to use your unit more effectively, and if necessary, replace any worn out parts.  Warranties can be taken out for a number of years to ensure peace of mind, and to avoid paying out if your machine needs frequent repairs or services.

When purchasing a unit, you can purchase a regular servicing contract, perhaps annually, which will ensure that an engineer comes out regularly to service your machine.

You can find a company online if you do not have a contact at the company where you purchase the machine.  Many engineers will not charge a call out fee, but only charge you for new parts.  Always check that the engineer has the necessary accreditation and qualifications.  Reputable professionals will be able to provide evidence of this and should offer a full guarantee of any parts they supply as part of the service they provide.

Your unit is more likely to need a service if it has been used more frequently.  Therefore, it is important to get regularly servicing, as warm weather can encourage people to turn their units on and turn them up.  Any glitches in the system will soon be evident and engineers will be under pressure to answer emergency call outs.  If you have been sensible enough to ensure your unit is regularly serviced, you are less likely to need to call an engineer out, as any problems will have been fixed or anticipated during the service.

It is always important to remember that your unit may not always function to its maximum capacity when the temperature is especially high.  During temperatures of over 100 degrees the unit may not be able to reach your desired temperature, and no amount of servicing can rectify this issue.


Air conditioning maintenance

There are two main types of home air conditioning unit and they both need regular maintenance.  The first type consists of a furnace and an air conditioning unit, the second has a heat pump which heats and cools.

Both types have an evaporator and a blower inside the unit and a condenser and compressor in the exterior unit. There are many components of an air conditioning unit that need regular maintenance.  The coils, fins and filters all need to be checked regularly, and need to be working efficiently if the unit is to function correctly.

Before you undertake any maintenance on your air conditioning unit, you must ensure that the power supply is cut off.

Filters need to be cleaned and changed regularly.  They can easily become clogged with dirt and if this happens the air flow will not be effective, and this can lead to damage in the coils as well.  If you replace the filter regularly, you will not only ensure that your unit works more efficiently, but you will reduce energy consumption as well.  Before the season when you most regularly use your air conditioning unit, it is wise to check your filter is clean, and keep checking it regularly thereafter.

If you have a machine that has reusable filters, they need to be cleaned rather than replaced.  A general rule is to clean the filter at least once a month for optimum performance.

The coil in the system will benefit from clean filters in the air conditioning system.  However, over time they will naturally gather dirt, especially if the unit is located outdoors.  Try and keep the area close to the coil as clean as possible and remove any debris as it collects.  Dust the area around the coil, and if you prefer, you can purchase a specialised coil cleaner to spray on to the coil.  You will need to spray this onto the coil, it will foam up and drip in to the drain tray which you can then clean with soapy water or bleach and replace.   You can keep the drain clean by using a 50/50 solution of water and bleach and pour it down the drain.  Or you can purchase a commercial drain cleaner to keep the drain free from algae.

The evaporator coil is where the warm air from your home enters the unit.  The purpose of the coil is to take the warm air from your home, cool it, then send it back out into the air flow in your home.

You may need to prise a cover off this unit if it is a block unit on the exterior.  Once you have removed the lid of the cage, you can remove the debris with a vacuum cleaner or by hand.  It’s important to maintain a free airflow around the unit, so check regularly that there is no build up of leaves or other debris around the exterior unit.

The fins on an air conditioning unit are usually made of aluminium.  If they become dirty, the system will not work as efficiently as it could.  You can purchase a ‘comb’ for these fins, and use this to clean your system on a regular basis.

On a large exterior unit, you may need to use a vacuum to clean the fins. You can then apply water from hose to clean the rest of the stubborn dirt away.  Be careful not to use a pressured hose, as this can damage the fins.  There is a commercially available fin cleaner spray, which can be applied to the fins if they are particularly dirty.

Sometimes the fins of the unit can become slightly bent or distorted. If you are maintaining the machine yourself, you can purchase a straightening tool, but you must be careful not to push the tool too far into the unit as there are delicate tubes behind it and they can be easily damaged.

In an exterior unit which is placed on exterior land, the soil beneath can shift with differences in weather or climate.  As the condenser sits on the land, the level needs to be checked regularly to make sure the levels are as flat as possible.   This can be done using a spirit level.  If the unit is not flat, it can damage the mechanics of the unit.  However, it is acceptable to have a slight slant away from the building which the unit is attached to, as this can allow for excess water to seep away safely.

It is vital to follow the manufacturer’s advice on coolant as well.  The unit will not function properly if the correct amount of coolant is not present in the system.  It is important to consult a professional if you are considering altering the level of your coolant.

There is plenty you can do to maintain your home air conditioning unit and improve its efficacy and its longevity.


Air conditioning repairs

When something goes wrong with your home air conditioning unit, it is important to call out a professional.  If you have kept your unit maintained and serviced, problem might be out of the scope of your expertise.

If you do not have an engineer who you know from the installation of your unit, you can use a local directory, or search on line for a local engineer.

The main problems that can occur with your unit are caused from two reasons: ineffective maintenance and faulty installation, servicing and maintenance.

When you are using a home air conditioning unit, it is important to keep outside doors and windows closed while you are using the unit.  It is also important to keep interior doors closed as much as you can to isolate the unit.

When the unit is installed, the engineer needs to add the correct amount of Gas to the unit.  Insufficient Gas can be very problematic to the functioning of the unit.  If the engineer is not trained properly, they can damage the machine by not adding the correct amount of gas, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.  Damage can be caused by adding too much gas as well.  Ensure that your engineer is fully qualified and experienced.  Ask for references or recommendations from other satisfied customers if you are at all unsure.

Other things the engineer will check is the electricity supply to the unit.  There could be a blown fuse or a break in the circuit.  Both of these would stop the condenser from working properly.

If the air is not cooling properly, the engineer may try turning the thermostat down, and see if this reduces the temperature.  If this doesn’t resolve the problem, there may be a problem with the thermostat.

If this is not the problem, the engineer will look at the condenser in the exterior unit of your system.  He will check to see if this is blocked or needs cleaning.  This is one reason that you should keep up regular maintenance of your cooling system, as this can cause damages in the unit if it is not done regularly.  One issue that a faulty compressor can cause is that the unit turns on and off repeatedly.    Often if the engineer gives the unit a good clean it can transform the operation of the unit.

If this is not the issue, then the compressor might be faulty and the engineer will need to replace this.  He will also check the gas charge as this is a common problem that occurs with home air conditioning units.

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