2 Maintenance Tips To Help Keep Your Air Conditioner Working Efficiently

During the summer's hot months, you depend on your home's air conditioner to keep your home comfortable and cool. Your air conditioner can become inefficient when you don't properly maintain it. Common causes of an inefficient air conditioner are clogged filters, dirty coils, and bent fins. Here are instructions to help you maintain your air conditioner unit in these areas to increase its efficiency.

Clean or Replace Your Filter

Your air conditioner cools the air in your home by pulling your home's air into the unit through its air filter. The air filter is there to filter dust and pollutants out of the air of your home, protecting and keeping clean your air conditioner. The ability of your air conditioner to work properly depends on the cleanliness of its air filter. So, it is important to change out or clean the filter often to keep it from becoming clogged.  A clogged filter won't be able to draw the hot air from your home for cooling, and can cause your air conditioner's motor to work overtime and eventually burn up. 

The rate your filter becomes dirty can depend on how dirty your home's air is and also the size your filter is. It is recommended to check your air conditioner's filter once a month to replace it or wash it if you have a washable filter. This tip is recommended for both window air conditioners and whole-home air conditioners. As a way to help remind yourself to check your air conditioner's filter, complete this task each month when you pay your utility bill. When you buy a replacement filter, it is recommended to look for a filter with a Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) of six or higher. The higher this MERV rating of one through twelve is, the better the filtration it provides in your home, requiring more energy to pull air through the filter.

Clean and Repair Your AC's Coils and Fins

Your air conditioner also depends greatly on its ability to expel heat it pulls from your home to the outside of the unit. It does this by way of the condenser coils and out through the external metal fins. The external fins appear as evenly-spaced vertical thin strips of metal on the outside of your unit. Sometimes they are protected by a metal grill, but the fins can become easily damaged, dented, and dirty. When your air conditioner's fins are bent and dirty, and the coils inside are dirty, hot air cannot flow out of the air conditioner, and the refrigerant in the coils will not be able to cool back down to continue cooling your home. 

To clean the coils and the fins, first turn the power off to the air conditioner unit by unplugging a window unit or switching the breaker off to a whole-home system. You can find a condenser coil cleaner at most home improvement stores, which you can use to clean the coils and fins on the unit outside. It is not recommended to use a cleaner to clean coils inside your home because you will need to rinse off the cleaner with your garden hose to prevent the aluminum coils from deteriorating.

First, spray your garden hose over the outside of the fins and to the coils inside. Combine the cleaning solution with water, per the label's directions, into a garden pump sprayer. Spray this over the outside of the fins and in to the coils. Wait for the cleaner to foam up and allow the cleaner to sit on the coils and fins according to the cleaner's instructions. Spray off the cleaner with the garden hose to remove any dirt and residue from the coils and fins.

Now you can straighten the fins, using a fin tool kit, which you can also find at most home improvement stores. Fin straighteners come in various sizes, depending on the number of fins per inch in your air conditioner's exterior. Remove any exterior metal grate from your air conditioner unit. Measure one inch of space and count the number of fins in that length to determine the size of comb you need. Beginning at the bottom of the unit, place the comb into the fins and pull it up through the length of the fins, straightening out any bent and misshapen fins. Repeat this process to straighten all bent fins.

Switch on power to your air conditioner and enjoy its efficiency with a newly-clean filter and coils and straightened fins. For more information on maintenance, contact an HVAC company like Metro Air.