Know the unit. That does not mean that the owner must be a HVAC technician, but understanding some air conditioning basics makes for informed conversations with the contractor when maintenance and repair services become necessary. Prepare ahead of time.
Perform simple, hands-on maintenance, but first, make double sure the unit is completely turned off to avoid electric shock hazard. Clean condenser coils and blades each summer by getting rid of any outdoor debris. Also, when mowing the lawn or raking or blowing leaves in the backyard or front lawn, discharge all grass, dirt, etc. away from the air conditioner.
Clean the air conditioner grilles periodically so the fan works efficiently, with nothing blocking air flow. Often, debris can cause a clicking noise in the unit; the home or business owner can remove the offender himself without having to make a call for service.
You can find replacement grilles as well if you need a new one. We found this Frigidaire EA109T Protective Rear Grille for Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners for a reasonable price.
As with any device that has moving, mechanical parts, lubrication is part of maintenance as well. Remove the metal or rubber caps, and lubricate with a light, SAE20 oil. Yearly oiling is sufficient with a maximum of 10 drops in each port.
In addition, one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective ways to keep A/C in great shape is to change the air filter each month. This will keep the unit running longer and better. The hardest part is the trip to the hardware store to purchase it. Check the owner’s manual for correct installation.
Annual professional inspection and service extends the life of an air conditioner. The technician should check the motor and freon (coolant). Hiring the right technician from a reputable company is safest. Ask around, and check online reviews for a good recommendation. The guy down the street who does HVAC repair on the side is probably not a great choice or investment. Spending a bit more for a solid, long-standing company pays off in extended A/C life.
The HVAC company’s availability is important, too. The best providers offer 24 hour/7 day a week emergency service, important during times of severe weather or if occupants of a home are medically fragile.
For the initial installation, obtain several estimates, and compare them. Research costs. Buy the best system budget will allow. Go online decide what size A/C system may be best for a space. Get all aspects of the installation in a written contract, and be sure to understand the details before signing. A good contractor welcomes questions and comments and aims at customer satisfaction.
Bigger is not necessarily better; so consult a sizing calculator to determine how many BTU’s are needed for the square footage of the home, room or business. Many HVAC manufacturers make owner’s manuals for various air conditioners available on their websites. So look into them to speak knowledgeably with the heating and cooling companies.
Location of that big outdoor compressor is critical, too. Put it in the shade, and it will not work as hard because cooler air takes less energy to climate control for indoors. The internal atmosphere is important, too. For instance, a home with double-paned windows is easier to cool in summer and heat in winter. Always switch A/C off when the house is empty to save energy dollars.
Check the seals on all windows and doors to be sure they are sealed correctly on all sides, keeping warm air out. HVAC technicians are expert at locating sources of substantial air leaks and can advise a property owner on how to tightly seal top, bottom and sides. The duct work in a home may also leaking, wasting energy dollars. Call the local utility company to come on site and test for leaks, and get a recommendation on fixing them. The company should do this for free or for a nominal charge.
In addition, think about how the home or commercial property sets in relation to the sun. Pulling shades and drapes closed for the hottest times during a summer day can keep a house cooler and the air conditioner working less. Trees and tall shrubbery add beauty and natural coolness, reducing the warm weather energy bill substantially.
A home or commercial property is a serious investment of time, resources and, of course, cash. The heating and cooling in any building is a large part of that investment. For the long haul, it pays the property owner to thoughtfully invest in a quality HVAC system at the start, whether building new or remodeling. Then, he must take care to do the simple maintenance outlined here, and get reputable professional help as needed to preserve the longevity of the system.