Being Cool This Summer
If you like jazz some would say you were “cool man cool”. If you are a slick dresser others might say you were “totally cool”. However, if your air conditioner isn’t working you will be sweating for sure – no matter how cool you are!
If you aren’t a jazz nut, and if you don’t feel like dressing to the nines, but you still want to be cool (i.e. no perspiration), all you have to do is make sure to perform a preseason air conditioning checkup before the weather becomes blazing hot. If a preseason startup results in the absence of cool air you will have plenty of time to get it repaired without suffering major discomfort.
Regularly maintaining an air conditioner is pretty easy and only takes a few minutes to do once you know what you are doing. A little cleaning, a filter, some oil and an adjustment or two and you can easily prevent what might be a big surprise on the first bliserting day of summer. Keep in mind that comfort is only one issue. Repairing an air conditioner (or any appliance for that matter) in its “off-season” can mean big savings on the repair bill. Additionally, a properly maintained air conditioner will operate more economically. So, a preseason checkup can eliminate the frustration of having hot air blown in your face when the thermometer reads “hot-hot-hot”, off season repairs, if needed, are cheaper, and finally, a properly tuned unit costs less to operate. Now, if you could only figure out how to get the lottery to work in the same way. If you don’t have a service manual, contact the manufacturer and ask for a copy. Another “first-time-around” alternative is to hire an experienced contractor to walk you through the process – at least once. Tag items with numbers or indelible ink and list what to do by the number in a log or a journal.
Clean & Lubricate The Blower/Motor Assembly As Necessary:
It isn’t unusual to open the furnace cover and discover that the blower assembly is filled with spider webs –not to mention dust, leaves and maybe a toy or two. As you may already know dust is not a good thing when it comes to moving parts. A dirty, poorly lubricated bearing can quickly wear to nothing. A vacuum cleaner works well here. Follow the instructions on the motor or in the user’s manual to determine which type of oil to use on the motor and blower pulleys. All you will have to do is lift the fill cap and squirt in a few drops.
Service Or Replace The Belt – (Belt Models Only) Editor’s Note: If we didn’t say belt models only we would get unwanted mail.
Actually, regular belt maintenance can extend its life considerably. First, it is important to clean the belt. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. After cleaning it is a good idea to make sure that it is properly adjusted and free of cracks and splits. Oh, by the way, we suggest AGAINST a belt dressing to stop a belt squeak. Belt dressing may stop the squeak, but will often soften the belt and cause it to wear out more quickly. And even though belt dressing may stop the squeak it might not stop the belt from continuing to slip – a bad thing. What ever you do don’t try to get extra mileage from a cracked or split belt – replace it.
Clean Or Replace The All Filters
Filter cleaning and replacement is really important. As a filter begins to clog air movement is reduced and backpressure is exerted on the blower system. This can cause the belt, pulleys and motor to retire to an early grave. Not to mention the fact that it costs more to operate a clogged system. On top of all that, who wants to breathe dirty air? Guests with allergies will thank you.
Check For Proper Air Flow
If the air coming from a supply register is not flowing as freely as it is at other registers or if the air doesn’t seem to be as cold there may be a break somewhere in the ducting. Air conditioning contractors have a device they place over a register to measure air pressure (flow) and temperature. They can tell if a line has a possible break. If your aren’t sure about flow contact an industry professional. You may be unwittingly cooling your attic, basement or crawl space. Yikes! Talk about dollars down the drain.
Check The Condensate Line
The Condensate Line in an air conditioner is used to transport water that condenses inside the unit out to the garden. Often small animals will nest or die in the line causing a clog. Although this possibility is remote it doesn’t hurt to check. One thing you don’t want is a flood in the furnace room.
Clean And Repair The Compressor Coil Fins
The compressor coil (located outside the house) acts like a car’s cooling system. An electric fan moves air across the coils to cool them down. If the fins that surround the coils get bent or clogged then the refrigerant will not be effectively cooled and the unit will not operate to maximum efficiency. Talk about a money waster. Woah! Use an old kitchen knife to straighten bent fins and use a garden hose to remove clogs.
Lubricate The Fan Motor
Once the fins are clean and straight give the motor a wipe down and – if it looks a little hungry – feed it a drop or two of oil. Again, you will want to refer to the owner’s manual for the proper type of oil to use.
Check The Thermostat
As you may have noticed our maintenance list is in the order that it we think the work should be performed. You will want to wait to check the thermostat after you are sure that the rest of the unit is operating properly. All you need to do here is to insure that the proper operation occurs when the various settings are switched from one point to another.
Check System Operation
Does it work or not. At this point if it doesn’t it may be a good idea to call in a specialist.
Inspect For Unusual Vibration or Noise
If you decide to hire a contractor to service your unit be sure to let the technician know whether your system is unusually noisy. As an occupant of the home you will be ultra-sensitive to changes in noise levels where a technician may not recognize the problem right away. Increased noise level means something is coming loose or something is wearing unevenly. In either case, quick action should be taken to prevent major damage.
Well, as Austin Powers would say, “Who’s the coolest baby? You are baby – you are!”
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