South Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches and hot, humid weather. The climate is such that most people run their air conditioning for most of the year, and this can really take a toll on your AC equipment. If you neglect to have your system professionally maintained, all those long hours can cause your AC compressor to wear out far sooner than you’d expected. You should always have your air conditioning system serviced at least once a year and potentially every six months if it runs almost constantly.
The Benefits of Annual AC Maintenance
The average lifespan for an air conditioner is typically around 15 years. However, many ACs in Florida don’t last this long since they run for many more hours each year. The best way to ensure you get as much life out of your AC as you can is with annual preventative maintenance.
Keeping your AC well maintained should also reduce the need for potentially costly repairs because the AC technician will fully inspect the various components. In this way, you can identify and fix any possible problems before they lead to a serious issue such as a burnt-out compressor motor.
Maintenance also ensures that your air conditioner is functioning at its peak effectiveness and energy efficiency. This means that it can also reduce your energy costs or at least prevent you from spending more to cool your home than you should.
What Does AC Maintenance Involve?
AC maintenance starts with a full inspection and testing of the equipment to make sure everything working properly. This includes making sure that the thermostat is properly calibrated and not in a location where it is exposed to direct sunlight. The technician will also check the control board and inspect all of the electrical wiring and connections and tighten any that are loose. They will also make sure that the condensate drain system is in good shape and unclog the drain line if needed. If the air filter is dirty, this will also be replaced.
The technician will then clean any debris from around the sides of the AC compressor so that it has proper airflow and doesn’t overheat. After removing the compressor’s fan assembly, they will then clean the entire inside of the unit including the condenser coil and fins. They will also make sure that the motor bearings are in good shape and lubricate the unit as needed.
Maintenance also includes a full cleaning of all of the internal components including the blower fan and evaporator coil. The technician will also fully inspect all of the ductwork to make sure there are no air leaks and check the pressure differential between the supply and return vents to ensure there is proper airflow.
It is also important to check the refrigerant pressure. If the pressure is too low, this indicates that more refrigerant needs to be added. The only real reason this can happen is if there is a leak somewhere in the refrigerant lines or either of the coils. In this case, it will also be necessary to locate and patch the leak. If not, the refrigerant level will soon drop too low, and the system will start to freeze up.
Why Coil Cleaning Is So Important
Cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils is one of the most essential maintenance tasks. Dirt, dust, hair, lint, and grease slowly collect on the coils, and this will eventually decrease the effectiveness of your AC system or prevent it from cooling whatsoever. Any dust and debris on the coils will have an insulating effect and interfere with the heat transfer process.
When the evaporator coil inside the building is dirty, it can start to freeze. Even worse, it could cause the AC compressor motor to begin overheating and eventually burn out. The reason evaporator coils freeze is because of condensation. When hot air comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a glass of ice water or an evaporator coil, condensation naturally forms as a result of the temperature difference. This is important as it allows the AC to remove excess humidity from the air in addition to heat.
Dirty coils absorb less heat, and this causes the refrigerant to remain cold enough that the condensation freezes before it can drip down into the drain pan. The only way to prevent this from happening is by cleaning the coils. However, you will first need to wait for all of the ice to melt before the coils can be cleaned and the system turned back on. Letting your AC continue to run when frozen is a quick way to burn out the compressor motor.
The condenser coil in the AC compressor is even more prone to getting covered in dirt and grime since it sits outside. When the coil is insulated by dirt, it is unable to discharge heat. Hot refrigerant from inside is constantly flowing out to the condenser coil. Before entering the coil, the refrigerant goes through the compressor.
By compressing the refrigerant, the pressure is increased and the temperature is raised so that the refrigerant is hotter than the air temperature. This is important as the heat cannot be released if the air is hotter than the refrigerant. Heat energy automatically flows from a hotter area to any nearby area that is at a lower temperature. Once the refrigerant is compressed, the heat is automatically transferred from the condenser coil to the cooler surrounding air.
As the heat is released via the condenser coil, the refrigerant pressure also drops. When the heat cannot be released because the coil is dirty, the refrigerant pressure remains higher. The high pressure makes it much more difficult for the compressor to pump refrigerant, which means the motor will have to work much harder. This can quickly raise the temperature of the motor and cause it to overheat. Overheating can damage the wiring by melting the wire insulation, and this can cause a short circuit. If the compressor motor gets too hot, it will eventually burn out.
Cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils is typically not something that you can easily do on your own, and there is a good chance that you will damage something if you try. For this reason, it is always best to be on the safe side and have a certified AC technician handle the coil cleaning and all other necessary maintenance tasks.
Expert AC Maintenance Services in Stuart
If you’re looking for someone to handle your AC maintenance needs, Billfish Air Conditioning, LLC is here to help. We offer a comprehensive maintenance program that includes inspecting and maintaining your AC system twice a year. Signing up for the program also entitles you to special perks such as priority scheduling, a 10% discount on repairs and one complimentary diagnostic service per year. You also won’t have to pay any overtime charges should you need any emergency service outside of normal business hours. During the maintenance visit, we will also inspect and maintain your heating system.
Our technicians service both residential and commercial HVAC equipment and can also handle any repairs and new equipment installation. To learn more about our maintenance program or to schedule a service appointment, give us a call today.