The glorious Aussie Summer is on our doorstep, and people everywhere are starting to reach for the AC remote. Unfortunately many will discover their much-loved cooling friend is not working efficiently, and then face the difficult decision of whether to repair, or replace their AC. If you haven’t yet tested out the health of your air conditioners in preparation for summer, here are some good maintenance, testing and repair tips to help you beat the heat, and the massive power bills.
Is your aircon operating efficiently?
There’s no doubt the AC is one of the biggest power consumers in your home. While it’s ideal to have the latest, greatest system with a very high energy rating, it’s quite often sufficient to undergo a tune-up to increase energy efficiency, and save you some dollars on your power bill. First, check the energy rating of your air conditioner model. If it has a high energy rating, it may pay to repair, rather than replace your AC. If it has a poor energy rating, you might see tangible long-term savings if you replace your unit.
Have you maintained your aircon properly?
When you’ve maintained and cared for your air conditioners properly, you increase their lifespan. If a problem does occur, more often than not you’ll be able to have your air conditioner repaired rather than replaced, to result in a happy well-working unit for many years to come.
Routinely clean your aircon filters
You should regularly give your filters a thorough clean even when your air conditioners are not in use. When filters are dirty, they block normal airflow and can significantly reduce the efficiency of the system. There’s also a risk of dirt carrying through into the evaporator coil and impacting its ability to absorb heat. According to energy.gov, your energy consumption can be reduced by 5 – 15% when dirty filters are cleaned or replaced.
Clean your air conditioner coils
Evaporator and condenser coils also collect dust and dirt over their lifetime. While having clean filters helps prevent this, they still become dirty over time, especially outdoor condenser coils. They should be checked every year to avoid problems with inefficient heat absorption.
Maintain your coil fins
Evaporator and condenser coils have aluminium fins which can be easily bent out of shape. If the fins are not in the optimal position, they can block the coil’s airflow. There’s a nifty gadget called a “fin comb” that can correct bent fins, and return them back to their original position.
Clogged air conditioner drains are often the culprit for units that are not reducing humidity. When your drains are clogged, you risk excess moisture discolouring your walls or floors. To keep on top of your drainage, pass a stiff wire (like a straightened coat hanger) through the AC’s drain channels.
Check window seals around room air conditioners
If you have room air conditioners, It’s a good habit to inspect the condition of your seals between the window frame and the air conditioning unit at the start of each cooling season. If your seal is damaged by water or age, precious cool air will be escaping from the room. Ensure your seal is ‘airtight’ and making good contact with the metal casing of the AC unit.
Prepare your AC’s for winter
In the colder months, it’s recommended to cover or remove your room air conditioners if you can. Similarly, covering a central air conditioner’s outdoor unit will help protect it from the frosty elements.
Need some help from the pros?
If regular maintenance doesn’t seem to be keeping your AC happy, call in your professional for a thorough analysis.
Your professional AC technician should do the following:
- Ensure the refrigerant levels are correct
- Using a leak detector, test for possible refrigerant leaks
- Safely collect refrigerant that needs to be removed from the system
- Identify and seal any duct leakages in ducted systems
- Measure and ensure there’s good airflow through the evaporator coil
- Ensure heating and cooling systems can’t operate simultaneously by verifying the control sequence.
- Clean and tighten all connections, and inspect electrical terminals, applying a non-conductive coating if required
- Inspect belts for wear, and ensure adequate tightness
- Oil motors
- Test the accuracy of the thermostat
Following a thorough professional overhaul, your technician will be able to give you a detailed report on any repairs that may be necessary to ensure the efficiency of your system, or advise whether you may be better off replacing the unit now, or in the near future.
Why repairing your air-conditioner can save you money in the future
Keeping your air con in a good state of repair can save you a significant amount of cash on your energy bills. Air conditioners typically have a lifespan of around 10-15 years, although many well-loved systems will last even longer. A good tip when tossing up over repair, or replacement is to multiply the estimated cost of repair with the age of your AC. If you come up with a figure that is less than the cost of purchasing and installing a new system with a high energy rating, then you should probably invest in a repair. Of course this all depends on the energy rating of your current system, the depth of repairs required, and whether or not you’ve already undergone significant repairs to the unit.
Final thoughts, get a second opinion if you’re not convinced your air conditioner needs replacing. Quite often, repair is a perfectly viable option, and you can enjoy a comfortable, clean and efficient Aussie summer, while you keep some of your hard-earned cash in the bank.
Air-Rite Mechanical Services Pty. Ltd. specialises in installation and maintenance of air conditioning, mechanical ventilation and refrigeration equipment for commercial, industrial, residential and domestic applications.