An air conditioner’s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance to work efficiently and properly. You have to maintain these few things in order to get the years of service that you need and deserve from the unit in which you have invested your money. Neglecting these few steps will cause a steady decline in performance—costing you money. Also, your comfort level will decrease because your unit is struggling to reach peak performance potential to enable it to work efficiently and properly.
One of the most important things to check on your HVAC unit is your filter. Clogged and dirty air filters will block the flow of air through your unit causing a significant drop in your system’s performance. With the air flow being blocked by dirt and debris, the air that comes through the filter can carry the dust and debris directly to the evaporator coil causing a big drop in performance. Keeping your air conditioner filters clean can lower your unit’s energy consumption by 5%-15%. For central air units, the filters are generally located somewhere along the air return ducts. They are sometimes found in walls, ceilings, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself. Room air conditioners have the filter mounted on the front of the unit behind the front grill. Some types of filters are reusable; others have to be replaced. The more your unit runs, the more often you need to check the filters. Filters are rated by a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The higher the MERV number, the more effective the filter will be at keeping dirt out of your system.
Your air conditioner evaporator coil and condenser coil can collect dirt over years of usage. A clean filter will delay this accumulation, but in time, the coil will still collect dirt—reducing the air flow and reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, you need to check the coil at least once a year. A good time of year to do this is in the spring when you do your spring cleanup from the winter that has just ended.
Outdoor condenser units need the same type of attention. You can easily check the coil to see if dirt is collecting on the fins. Check with your local home improvement store or HVAC expert to see if they have a cleaner available for these coils. The aluminum fins on evaporator and condensing coils can easily become bent and prevent air from moving through them. Air conditioner supply stores sell a tool called a “fin comb” that will move or “comb” these fins closer to their original position.
These units also have a condensate drain that can become clogged. Clogged drains prevent the unit from reducing humidity, therefore, sending more moisture into your home. You can occasionally send a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels to prevent them from clogging.
These are just a few things that you can do to help bring your HVAC unit closer to peak performance to help you save money and conserve energy at the same time.