Air Conditioner Basics and Upkeep

Air Conditioner Basics and Upkeep

In order to experience the comfort of a properly functioning cooling system at home, the central air conditioning system should be regularly inspected and routinely maintained. Although experts recommend the annual inspection and maintenance by a trained professional, there are a number of ways on how you can optimize the function of your building’s central air conditioning system with relative ease, and utmost efficiency.

In this article, we provide you with useful tips on proper inspection and upkeep of air conditioning systems that are installed at your home:

  • For exterior condenser unit

It is ideal to clean the exterior condenser unit and its components regularly. This crucial part of an air conditioning unit is usually found on the side of a house or building. Its main function is push heat coming from the interiors of the building and out to its exteriors. Within the coil lies are pipe coils which are then covered by thousands upon thousands of metal substances called fins that guarantee a coil boasts more surface area to make the exchange of heat possible altogether.

Here are helpful and fast tips from our Memphis Home Inspector that you should follow when cleaning the exterior portion of the condenser unit as well as its smaller inner components. Make sure to turn off the main power of the air conditioning system before cleaning.

First step in cleaning the air conditioning system is the removal of cobwebs and other noticeable debris off of the air conditioning unit’s main exterior. To ensure proper flow, it is best to cut foliage back a few several free from the unit.

The second step is to remove the grill cover so you can clear the unit’s interior of any debris or particulates. You may want to use a garden hose to speed up the task of cleaning the interior portion of an air conditioning system.

Third step entails the straightening of bent fins with the use of a specialized tool called the fin comb.

Fourth step is to add a lubrication solution onto the unit’s motor system. It may be best to check out the manual that came with the purchase of your air conditioning system to identify the accurate and specific instructions to your air conditioning unit’s model.

Make sure that you clean the condenser coil as well as the evaporator coil once a year at least. Bear in mind that coils filled and clogged with dust and dirt will result in improper functioning of the air conditioning system.

  • Assess and evaluate the condensate drain line

The main function of a condensate drain line is to collect and store condensed water away from the main air conditioning unit. These drain lines are typically located on the side portion of the interior’s fan unit.

There are central air conditioning systems that feature two type of drain lines:

  • Primary drain line is usually built into the main unit.
  • Secondary drain line functions to drain water if and when the primary drain line fails as a result of blockages.

The inspection of drain lines can be done even without professional help simply by following the following cleaning guidelines:

  • Conduct a visual inspection of the drain lines and identify any form of obstruction that may come in the form of algae outgrowths and debris. Obstruction is most commonly evidenced by the backing up of water into the drain pain or even in the form of an overflow; both of which may pose danger and potential water damage to the interiors of a house.
  • Make sure that the two hoses are properly secured in place are tightly fitted as well.


  • Air filter cleaning

Most central air conditioning systems are installed with air filters that come out easily, thanks to their fast slide out replacement feature. The main function of an air filter is to remove small particles from the air such as dust, dirt, and pollen. Filters found inside an air conditioning unit removes all of these undesirable debris, thus ensuring clean air circulating inside the home. Filters are commonly rectangular in shape with standard dimensions of 20 inches X 16 inches X 1 inch. They are easily installed into the primary duct work located near the fan found inside the air conditioning unit.

Ideally, air filters should be regularly washed or replaced altogether. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to manage and clean air filters.

It is important to clean air filters, as they are not only responsible for ensuring superior air quality, but will guarantee that the motor will work efficiently when turned on even for longer periods of time. Remember that dirty filters contribute to increased energy consumption as well as reduced overall energy efficiency.

Ideally, an air filter should be replaced monthly, especially when they are operating on a daily basis. If you or any occupants at home are suffering from respiratory problems, it may be best to replace filters more often. Households with pets and homes located in front of busy streets should replace or clean filters regularly too.

  • Cover the Exterior Unit of the Air Conditioning System

During colder months when air conditioning will not be used indoors, it is best to protect the exterior condenser unit by placing a cover on them. Exposing the condenser unit to external factors such as snow, rain, and ice may harm the overall integrity and function of the central air conditioning system. Covering the condenser with plain plastic bag or a cover specifically designed for condenser units will prevent the formation of ice as well as the accumulation of dust and dirt.

  • Close the air-distribution registers

Air-distribution registers are basically duct openings that can be found in flooring, ceilings, and wall systems where cold air enters the room. It is best to close them once cooler months set in to keep the warmer air from flowing back out of the room. Once the air-distribution registers are closed, insects and dust will be unable to enter the home. Adjusting these registers is as simple as opening or closing the built-in levers or wheels.

During hotter months, make sure to open these registers. Ensure that the registers are not being blocked by window treatments and other furnishings such furniture and carpeting systems.

Aside from the following tips in the management and cleaning of central air conditioning systems above, here are other tips that homeowners should implement to ensure optimum functioning and efficiency:

  • Obtain the services of professionals at least once a year for expert inspection. Ideally, assessment should be done before the onset of spring.
  • Our Miami Home Inspector says, “You can effectively reduce the stress on air conditioning units simply by improving your home’s energy efficiency.” The mere replacement from fluorescent to incandescent or LED lights is one way of reducing indoor temperatures, which in turn relieves stress on air conditioning units.
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