Did you know that scheduling regular air conditioning maintenance can save you money in the long run? Issues with your air conditioning unit that are caught during professional maintenance can be quickly fixed before they have the chance to cause irreparable damage to your air conditioner. If your air conditioner suddenly breaks down during the summer, you may be forced to call for emergency repairs — and these can be expensive. Overall, regular maintenance helps to extend the lifespan of your air conditioner and can even save you money in the long run due to reducing the need for repairs or replacement of your unit. Here are some of the services included during a professional air conditioning maintenance call that can help extend the longevity of your central air system.
Check Refrigerant, Find Leaks and Recharge if Necessary
Refrigerant isn't used up by your central air conditioning unit — the entire system is designed to be a closed loop, and the amount of refrigerant in the system will stay constant when it's operating properly. As part of professional air conditioning maintenance, a technician will check the level of refrigerant in the air conditioner. If it's low, that means there's a leak somewhere in the system. This can be due to gouges in the coils or leaky seals.
If the refrigerant in your air conditioner is low, a technician will use a specialized piece of equipment known as a leak detector in order to find the leak. After the leak is repaired, your air conditioner will be recharged with additional refrigerant. Operating with low levels of refrigerant can cause your air conditioner unit to freeze over, which may damage the coils. Due to environmental concerns, only a professional air conditioning maintenance technician is allowed to handle air conditioning refrigerant, so checking your refrigerant and recharging your air conditioner must be handled by a professional.
Clean Coils and Measure Their Airflow
Your central air conditioning system has two sets of coils — evaporator coils are located inside next to the blower fan, and condenser coils are located in the condenser unit outside. If you don't change your filters often enough, dust and dirt can build up on the evaporator coils. The condenser coils outside can easily become dirty, since they're exposed to pollen and wind-blown dust. When your coils become dirty, it prevents them from functioning well — the grime acts as an insulator, which stops the coils from effectively exchanging heat between the air inside the coils and the outside air, which makes your air conditioner work harder to keep your home cool.
When you have your air conditioner serviced by an air conditioning maintenance professional, your coils will be cleaned. While it's possible to clean your air conditioner coils by yourself, you run the risk of breaking them and causing a refrigerant leak — they're fairly thin and easily broken or bent out of place.
After cleaning the coils, a technician will check how much air is flowing through them while the air conditioner is operating. Inadequate airflow can point to other problems with your central air system that need to be corrected, such as a blocked air duct or a failing condenser motor.
Lubricate Fan and Belts
All of the moving parts in your air conditioner will be lubricated during a maintenance visit and will be checked for wear. The belt in your blower fan is exposed to airborne dust, which can increase the friction it generates and cause it to wear out quickly. Not only does this increase the stress placed on your blower fan's motor and cause it to fail sooner, a blower fan belt that snaps will prevent your air conditioner from working until it's fixed. By reducing the amount of friction between the moving parts of an air conditioner, you help to increase your central air conditioning unit's lifespan.
Inspect Electrical Connections
All of the electrical connections in your central air system will be checked for loose connections. Wires can become loose due to vibration, and loose wires can cause fluctuations in voltage that damage the blower fan motor and the condenser motor. A technician will tighten any loose wiring connections and prevent voltage fluctuations from occurring.
By scheduling regular air conditioning maintenance, you help to increase the lifespan of your central air system. Central air conditioning units are expensive, so it's important to maximize the amount of time that your unit remains functional. Schedule air conditioning maintenance annually with a local HVAC contractor. The best time to perform maintenance is in the spring, because it allows you to catch any problems in the system before you run your air conditioner regularly during the summer.