About 12 years ago, I was “Mr Naive” about AC’s. If you would of asked me how they worked. Then I would’ve said something like “PFM” (pure f*cking magic). Since then I have been to several schools that have taught me the ways of how various refrigeration systems run. They have taught me how to best care for pretty much every type of refrigeration machine you can think of. So, I thought I should pass some of that knowledge on to you guys. In this article I will cover some of the most basic things that you can look at to help make your AC last longer.
It is important to remember to safely turn off the power before reaching your hands around the fan blades or handling the electrical wiring.
Things to look at:
- Filters – Replace your filters regularly with a similar size. I recommend at least looking at your filter monthly. Most filter replacements that I do are scheduled every 2 to 3 months, but it’s all depending on how much your system is running. I always recommend getting the pleated filters. The other ones do not filter the air as well. In my home I run a reusable filter. They are more expensive initially, but can be rinsed off and reused. Saving you money eventually.
- Coils – A damaged coil will cost a lot to replace. So, I recommend treating your coils well. A few bent fins on you coil won’t really damage anything except the aesthetics of the machine. A loss of air flow across the coils will result if an abundance of the fins getting bent. They have fin combs that you can buy to help straighten the fins, but this is often tedious. It is important that your coils stay clean as well. Various stores sell coil cleaners that you can spray on and rinse off. I have attached some links of some that I approve of using. The reason that most cleaners will state that the outside coils (condenser) will need to be rinsed off is because there is little moisture that runs across the outside coils. The inside coils (evaporator) remove moisture from the air using the condensation method. The moisture that runs across these coils is enough to rinse them from the cleaners. I recommend cleaning your coils every year or two depending on where you live, and how much dust is usually on your coils.
Goodman 3 Ton Uncased Upflow/Downflow Evaporator Coil 13AC-Safe Foam Coil Cleaner – 19 ounce spray aerosol can: Cleans Evaporator and Condesor Coils, Fan Blades, and Reusable Air Filters4171-75 – Air Conditioner A-Coil Evaporator Condenser Foam Coil Cleaner – No Rinse- 14oz Spray CanFin Comb Air Conditioner Fin Cleaner By TOFL (1)ABN Condenser Fin Straightener Comb, AC Evaporator Coil Rake
- Fan Blades – Inspect your fan blades while they are operating for abnormal operation. Condenser fan blades are notorious for vibrating once they get damaged. Vibrating fan blades will usually reduce your condenser fan motors life. I have also experienced indoor blower wheel fan blades getting damaged from various reason. The best way to repair a damaged fan blade is to replace it.
Fasco D7909 5.6-Inch Condenser Fan Motor, 1/4 HP, 208-230 Volts, 1075 RPM, 1 Speed, 1.8 Amps, Totally Enclosed, Reversible Rotation, Ball BearingA.O. Smith ORM5458 1/3-1/6 HP, 1075 RPM, 208-230 volts, 2 Amps, 48Y Frame, Sleeve Bearing Condenser MotorFasco D7908 5.6-Inch Condenser Fan Motor, 1/3 HP, 208-230 Volts, 1075 RPM, 1 Speed, 2.6 Amps, Totally Enclosed, Reversible Rotation, Ball BearingA.O. Smith FSE1026SV1 1/4 HP, 1075 RPM, 208/230 Volts, 1.3-1.8 Amps, 48 Frame, Sleeve Bearing Condenser MotorB1086756 – Goodman Replacement Condenser Fan Blade -3 x 18Goodman B1086756S Fan BladeGoodman B1086775SP Condenser Fan Blade 22Whirlpool W10156818 Fan Blade – CondenserGoodman B1086750SP Condenser Fan Blade 22Supco FBP100 Fan Blade And Blower Wheel Puller
- Belts – Most residential units will not have a belt driven fan blades. Most commercial units are belt driven. Always replace your belt with a similar size and style if it is excessively worn or damaged.
- Condensation drain – You will always see some sort of drain coming from the evaporator coil. The condensation drains are important to pay attention to. If they back up then could potentially ruin drywall and insulation if your air handler is located in your attic. Click here to see my other article about drains.
- Contactors – Contactors are heavy duty relays. They use a small electrical current to control the larger current that is used to run your compressor and motors. The points that engage to let the electricity to pass through will get burnt over time. Once they become too worn they won’t allow the electricity to pass through. I recommend the replacing the contactor once they start having the burnt arching marks on the contacts.
- Capacitors – If you have a multimeter that can check microfarads. Then I recommend checking the capacitor. They should be within 6% of the rating. I have attached a link on a recent article I wrote on capacitors.
- Wiring – Making sure there isn’t any bare wires that could possibly arch or get caught in the fan blades. I recommend using zip ties to secure loose wires.
- Fuses/Circuit Breakers – Ensure the fuses and circuit breakers are working correctly.
Buss HAC-R-40 – Edison Replacement Time Delay Fuse – 40 Amp 250V – RK5 Dual ElementBussmann FRN-R-60 60 Amp Fusetron Dual Element Time-Delay Current Limiting Fuse Class RK5, 250V UL Listed( Box of 10 ) Fusetron FRN-R-40 – Edison Replacement Time Delay Fuse – 40 Amp 250V – RK5 Dual ElementLittlefuse FLNR-60 – Box of 10 Edison Replacement Time Delay Fuse – 60 Amp 250V – RK5 Dual Element
- Gas lines – If your unit is equipped with gas lines. Make sure they are secure and not leaking. Some tend to rust eventually. Ensure the shut off valve operates correctly.
There is a quick way to ensure your AC is working properly during the cooling mode. You can put your hand above the condenser fan. You should be able to feel the heat coming off from the condenser fan while the unit is in cooling mode.
I hope that this article has helped you inspect your air conditioner. Please comment or email me with any questions or concerns, and I will update the article.