Maintaining Your Air Conditioner:
One of the most often neglected systems a home inspector must evaluate in a home is the central air-conditioning system. Most central air-conditioning systems are split systems, meaning that part of the equipment is found outside the home and part is inside. There is an exterior component called the condenser (compressor) and the evaporator unit, which is found within the home, either within the plenum (duct work directly above the furnace) or within a dedicated air-handler to the air-conditioning system. Central air conditioning systems distribute the cool air through ducts, but some distribute the cool air from an air-handler mounted in a wall.
To get the best service and longest life from your central air conditioning system it should be serviced on an annual basis by a qualified HVAC technician. Performing the following can help make your system run more efficiently, last longer, save money in energy costs, and prevent damage to your home:
- Clean the condenser and evaporator coils.
- Check the coolant levels of the system.
- Check and clean the blower components. Adjust as needed and replace worn belts.
- Level the condenser unit if needed.
- Replace worn coolant line insulation wherever accessible.
- Check the condensation pump or condensation pan, drains, and overflow check valve.
If you are a handy homeowner, you can perform some of your air-conditioning maintenance yourself:
- Air filters need to be replaced after approximately 90 days of use, but checking on a monthly basis is recommended.
- All filters are not the same. Consider using higher quality pleated filters.
- Even though some rooms may not be used, be careful not to close too many registers. This can cause your system to work harder.
- If you have a humidifier for your furnace, shut off the water supply to it and close the vent that allows the air to pass though the humidifier.
- Keep shrubs trimmed back at least two feet from the condenser unit outside.
- Keep leaves and debris from building up around the condenser unit.
- Do not pile mulch or wood chips above the bottom of your condenser unit.