I'm often asked what a person can do to keep their air conditioning unit working properly. AC units are complicated pieces of machinery, but there are many things a homeowner can do to keep their unit running and avoid making expensive service calls.
Like any machine, AC units need regular maintenance. Follow the simple steps
outlined below, and your unit will work more efficiently for a longer period
of time - if you continue to experience problems, a repair call or replacement
of the unit may be in order.
There are three types of units used in modern apartment buildings: window
units - also known as room air conditioners - through-the-sleeve units, and central
air conditioning units that use chilled water to cool the entire building.
If your home has window or through-the-sleeve units, then you can skip this
next section and move straight to Step Two. If your building has central air,
then your building staff should be cleaning the units on a set maintenance schedule.
Disconnect the power cord from the outlet - always remember,
Remove the filter. This is fairly straightforward; in most
units, the filter is located at the front of the unit. On newer models, it's
usually not necessary to remove the whole front cover to remove the filter.
Look for a small lip or tab attached to the filter, and pry or slide it off.
On older units, the front cover often just snaps off, or there may be one or
two screws on each side securing the cover. If you've got a newer unit with
a slide-out filter, you're in luck - the filters can be vacuumed or hand washed
in the kitchen sink. You may also find replacement filters for the unit at your
local hardware store. Under normal conditions, however, simply washing the filter
under the faucet does the trick. In older AC units, filters are disposable and
meant to be thrown away and replaced regularly. Step Three:
You may also want to clean your unit's evaporator coils.
These coils provide the cooled air that regulates the temperature in your home,
and they're located in the front of the unit. If you didn't have to remove the
cover to get to the filter, you now need to remove it to access the coils. Be
very careful not to damage the coil-fins - this can create leaks. Once the cover
is off, take a flashlight and examine the coils themselves - if your filter has
been working, they should appear clean and free of debris. If your filter's
dirty or in need of replacement, the coils will appear grimy or dusty, and need
to be cleaned. Before doing this, however, take note of the position of the
thermostat bulb; if you move it out of the way to access the coils, it must
be put back into its original position once you're finished cleaning.
Next, using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, gently vacuum the face
of the coils. Never press hard on the coil surfaces; the fins that surround
the coils are made of aluminum and can bend very easily. Once you're finished
vacuuming, reposition the thermostat bulb if you had to move it. This is very
important; if the bulb is not properly placed, it may not take a correct reading
of the temperature within the unit, and the unit itself will not run efficiently.
While you're inside the unit, you may want to wipe the thermostat bulb with
a damp cloth, if it's dusty.