AC maintenance


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Old 01-21-12, 06:01 AM
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AC maintenance

We moved south a few years ago and very first time we have a central AC unit. It has been working fine, I just wonder if it needs some preventative maintenance? Shall I call a specialist? Could I do something myself to make sure it is in good condition? Or I should leave it alone, don't fix what's not broken?
 
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Old 01-21-12, 06:10 AM
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When the hvac pros come along they are probably going to ask you age of unit and make.

A lot of ac companies offer seasonal check-up specials in the spring where they will come out and do a check that will include cleaning and operational checks. Prices vary from $30-100. I confess I haven't had mine done in a couple of years but will have it checked this spring as we run air about 8 months a year. Be sure to replace the filter at regular intervals with a quality element.
 
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Old 01-21-12, 07:01 AM
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Much of the normal maintenance that they charge for can be done yourself if you have basic tools and common sense. Just do a search for "cleaning my A/C unit" or "maintaining my homes A/C". Now, if it comes to a unit thats not cooling, turning on and off often, or otherwise acting up...some things you can fix, others not and would require a service call. I highly recommend you talk to friends an neighbors about who they have had do work for them. Don't go for the cheapest price or the big name companies as your only option. Best service I ever had was from a family company, father and 2 sons....they only charged about $60 for a 1 hr service call and were completely honest and forthcoming about everything. After checking everything thoroughly told me I needed a new thermostat and he could install it, but I could save money by just buying and installing it myself. Explained what and why of the problem and what he was checking at each step.

You have to be careful with the "annual service" deals..some will recommend unneeded repairs or replacement "because it's old" or "it could fail at any time". I never understood why a tech would check the refrigerant charge on a perfectly functioning unit....that can cause more problems than it can help, by causing leaks at the valves. They can determine if it's operating correctly by other means.

As to the filters, remember, filters are to keep the system clean, not to filter air that you breath. Putting a highly restrictive filter on a system can cause it to fail. Look for the amount of restriction (usually listed by MERV) listed on the package. I believe most Pros recommend MERV 8-10 and they should normally be changed every month when the system is used. If your system has the large 4" thick filters there are different rules.
 
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Old 01-21-12, 08:26 AM
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I have had to clean the evaporator coil in every place that I have moved into. I would take a look at it, unless it is new it is probably dirty. 50 cent fiberglass filters allow dirt and animal fur to pass through and build up on the evaporator. $20 1 inch 3m pleated filters can restrict too much air. I usually recommend basic pleated filters.




Flushing the ac drain and the addition of algae tablets from a hardware store (or bleach) should be done once or twice a year.
This will protect the ceiling in attic installations and floor from damage.



The condenser outside should be rinsed annually.

 

Last edited by Houston204; 01-21-12 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 01-22-12, 12:23 PM
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I very much appreciate all replies. I really do. I'm a DIY type of guy, I'm used to fix anything, be it computer, car or TV set. It never occurred to me I'd have to check the coil! Now when I think of it .. it makes perfect sense. As it is a combined unit it probably will better the efficiency of heater, too. Although we rarely need it here in southern Louisiana.
 
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Old 01-22-12, 12:31 PM
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Ahhh is this a package unit where the furnace and A/C are all in one enclosure? I have one of those on my roof. Not much room inside but easy to access everything at least...panels for everything.
 
 

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