Air Conditioning Maintenance 101

Help to Navigate Summer Heat with Air Conditioning Maintenance

While we are familiar with the comfort air conditioning provides a residential air conditioner also provides tremendous health and safety benefits. With every cooling cycle, dust and pollen is removed from the indoor air, allowing us to breathe easier. Excess humidity condenses, and drains away with each cycle, moisture that promotes mold and mildew growth.

Keeping an air conditioner maintained is essential to protect family health, but it also prevents costly breakdowns, prolongs the useful years of the system, and the energy saved is money saved. Understanding how your air conditioner works will help you better understand why maintenance is required.

Air Conditioning Maintenance 101

Gas Chemistry. The cooling begins in the outdoor condenser unit of the system. A compressor motor squeezes refrigerant liquid until it turns to gas—about 400 pounds per square inch (PSI). When you compress the liquid, it heats up and becomes a gas, but when you release the pressure, the gas becomes a liquid, and it cools off immediately.

Removing Moisture. While the refrigerant is cooling, the blower motor begins moving the warm, humid air of the house across the cold tubes. Just like a cold lemonade glass, water condenses, drips down to a pan, and drains away.

Removing Heat. While the condensation is forming, the cold refrigerant is collecting heat from the house. The hot gas is pushed outside, and the big fan in the center of the condenser draws air between the outdoor tubes. The air cools the gas and releases the heat into the air. The cooled gas is ready to be recycled and used again.

Cleaning Air. An air filter is placed strategically in the vent network to remove airborne contaminants. Air filters are rated on the size of the openings/efficiency of removing particles. Even the most basic filter removes about 85% of contaminants with each cooling cycle, which is pretty good.

Understanding Air Conditioning Maintenance

When you understand the basics of cooling, grasping the need for Air Conditioning Maintenance becomes clear.

Removing Contaminants. At every stage, dust, pollen, and other airborne particles are the enemy of the cooling process. Some of these items are sticky and collect other items. The moisture from condensation will also attract dust. The buildup of particles on the tubes containing refrigerant, both inside and outside, blocks the transfer of heat and makes the whole system work harder. Maintenance will include cleaning the most vulnerable components and changing the air filter.

Electrical Wear. The whole air conditioning system depends upon a series of sensors, controllers, and switches. Within the same system, some wires carry low voltage, and some carry high voltage. Each time the system calls for cooling, it is like opening a gate and allowing energy to rush through. Each time the gate opens, it creates a slight wear and tear on the key electrical components. Wear causes stress, and stress creates an opportunity for systemic failure. Maintenance will include testing components and searching for wear/weakness.

Leak Detection. Since the refrigerant gas travels under extreme pressure, an essential maintenance task is testing the pressure of the gas. Even minute openings will force the gas into the atmosphere. Losing the gas ends the cooling potential, so making sure the system does not leak is extremely important.

Inevitable Aging. All good things must come to an end, and this is true for air conditioning systems. Maintenance and repairs will prolong the life of an air conditioner, it will not last forever. However, regular maintenance will keep you apprised of system health and help you prepare for an eventual replacement date.

Have Questions About Air Conditioning Maintenance?

Northwind Air Conditioning and Heat can help answer your Air Conditioning Maintenance questions. Contact us and get the help you need.

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Northwind Air Conditioning, Heating and Mechanical Services, Inc.

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