The central air conditioner is the single most expensive appliance in your home. It is also consumes more electricity than any other appliance.
The longevity and efficiency of your unit is directly related to the amount of work it is required to perform, and the conditions in which it performs this work.
What is the value of regular servicing? You will pay for it one way or the other. You can pay an air conditioning contractor to keep your unit it good operating condition and maximum efficiency, or you will pay electric bills higher than your should. More money is wasted each summer with higher electric bills than the cost of the service call. Another hidden and overlooked cost is the need to replace a worn out unit before it’s time. Premature wear and death will happen sooner than it would on a well maintained unit.
Annual servicing will save you money and make your life easier. It is true that not even the best HVACR Technician can predict the future. However a well trained and experienced technician knows how to interpret signs, technical readings and the general condition of the unit, thus determining eventual problems. Locating and repairing minor faults before they become breakdowns or cause permanent damage is
Money in your pocket. “Pay me now or pay me later”.
Many of the simple problems that can be recognized and repaired include:
Dirty condenser coils (outside) reduce its ability to exchange heat. It will run with higher condensing temperatures and a subsequent loss of capacity. Under these conditions it must operate longer to remove the same amount of heat (make cold air) than will a clean unit.
Re-circulating of condenser air is when the air coming out of your outside unit is deflected by an object and sucked back into the intake of the unit. What this means is; the heat of rejection is moving in a circular pattern and is not being rejected but is in fact caught in a loop of ever increasing temperatures. Causing higher pressures within the system. Re-circulation can be caused by objects to close over the unit. Re-circulation has all the problems associated with a dirty condenser coil.
Dirty condenser or re-circulation in a unit uses more electricity. Running with higher condensing temperatures causes it to operate at higher compression ratios. These conditions cause the oil to breakdown and eventual compressor bearing failure. Higher compressor temperatures also cause a slow breakdown of the compressor motor wiring (windings) which introduces acids into the system and shortens the compressor and systems’s life.
Voltage faults caused by loose connections, burnt wiring or damaged contactors will cause higher motor temperatures and loss of efficiency. Uncorrected minor voltage faults, over a period of time, will cause capacitor, fan motor, compressor motor, or wiring failure. Severe voltage faults will take only a short amount of time to cause a failure.
Fan motors that require oiling will have a bearing failure if they are not oiled. Causing the loss of fan motor. During which time the malfunctioning air conditioner will cause you grief, and the unit is running with adverse conditions. Once again shortening the unit’s life.
Vibration is generally due to and out of balance condition. Vibration causes premature bearing failure, metal fatigue, and refrigerant leaks. These conditions add increased repair cost, unnecessary service calls and premature failure of the equipment. Vibration should not be tolerated.
Improper refrigerant charges cause a multitude of problems. The proper charging of a refrigerant system is a complex action. Requiring many readings and patience. An over or under charged system will exacerbate pre-existing faults and will cause faults of it’s own. These faults include compressor damage, loss of efficiency and capacity.
What you can do is to pay attention to your equipment. Learn what is normal therefore recognizing a change before it becomes a problem. Communicate this to your tech and allow him to determine the root cause and the best repair options.
Change your filters monthly. Regular changing of the inside air filter allows better air flow across the inside coil (evaporator) improving the heat exchange capability of the coil. Proper air flow is required to maintain efficiency, and longevity. The use of pleated filters is not recommended unless your system is specifically designed to handle the extra static pressure drop caused by these filters. In other words pleated filters (in most systems) cost you money!
See also: Homeowner Tips