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Archive for Monday, May 2, 2011

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Fix-It Chick: Service your air conditioner for a cooler summer

May 2, 2011

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A properly serviced air conditioner is less likely to break down and more likely to cool your home efficiently. Whether you have a large central air unit or a small window unit, there are several things you can do to help ensure your air conditioner is operating at its optimal capacity.

Step 1: Change the filter. Filters remove small particles of dust that can cause an air conditioner to operate less efficiently. Changing the filter every 30 to 90 days will ensure the air conditioner motor does not work overtime. Central air units usually direct air through the furnace duct work. Changing the air conditioner filter is the same as changing the furnace filter in most cases.

Step 2: Clear away debris and cut back any vegetation within 2 feet of the air conditioner. Proper air flow around the unit is important and the less dirt and debris the motor and fan have to deal with the better.

Step 3: Clean the air conditioner grille or housing. Use a brush or vacuum to remove as much dust and lint from the fins as possible. Do not use water, as it may force mud into the unit.

Step 4: Clean the condenser coils. Dust and particles accumulate on the coils making it more difficult for the air conditioner to cool. Turn off the power to the air conditioner. Spray coil cleaner or degreaser on the condenser coils. Let the cleaner work for 5 minutes then rinse completely with cold water.

Step 5: Clean the drain line. Leaking condensation lines can cause serious damage to a home. Access to the line is usually available through a clean out or from inside the evaporator coil drain pan. Clear the line by flushing it with water or compressed air from the access point or by capping the access and using a heavy duty vacuum to suck out debris from the open end of the line. If the drain line ends are not accessible, disconnect or cut the line near the access point to clean it. Reassemble the line properly to assure it does not leak once the air conditioner is up and running.

Step 6: Arrange to have a professional service technician oil the fan motor, check the belts, test the operating pressure and temperature, check the amperage draw and check the coolant level on a regular basis.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

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