How to Take Care of Your Air Conditioner

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Appliances

Thermostat

The thermostat is situated behind the control panel. These are the steps to test and/or change the thermostat:

Step 1: Eliminate the grille and control panel from the unit. The thermostat has a unique sensing bulb connected to it which extends from the thermostat into the evaporator coil area. Its function is to detect temperature that is regulated by the thermostat.

Step 2: Carefully remove the thermostat because you will need to return the sensing bulb to the same spot later. To make it easier to replace, mark the location of the bulb before removing the thermostat.

Step 3: Check the thermostat with the VOM set to the RX1 scale. Clip the probes of the tester to the thermostat terminals, and turn the temperature control dial to the coldest setting. If the meter reads zero, then the thermostat is working properly. If the reading is higher than zero, replace the thermostat with a new one of the same type. If the thermostat is held to the control panel or frame with screws, clips, or metal tabs, connect the new thermostat in the same way as the old one was connected.

Note: If the thermostat has more than two lead wires connected to it (not counting the sensing bulb wire), do not attempt to test or replace it. Instead, call a professional service person.

Drain Ports

As the air conditioner runs, condensed moisture and water vapor from the evaporator coil are directed through drain ports or an opening between the partition in the middle of the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. At this point, the fan blows the moisture against the condenser coil, where the water is expelled.

Drain ports can get obstructed with dirt. This can result in water leaking from the appliance, typically through the bottom of the grille. To prevent blockage, clean the ports with a short piece of wire hanger or the blade of a pocketknife. Do this at the start of every cooling season and every month during the season. Also, check the condenser side of the air conditioner. Some models have a drain port along the bottom edge of the cabinet frame. If your air conditioner has this drain port, clean it out when you clean the other ports.

The fan, motor, and compressor require routine maintenance to keep your air-conditioning unit running at its most efficient. Follow these simple guidelines:

What You’ll Need

You’ll need these tools to test or replace a thermostat:

  • Screwdriver
  • Volt-ohmmeter or multimeter
  • Replacement thermostat

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FAQ

1. How often should I clean or replace my air filter?

It is recommended to clean or replace your air filter every 1-3 months, depending on how often you use your air conditioner and the quality of your air filter. A dirty or clogged air filter can cause your air conditioner to work harder than necessary, leading to higher energy bills and potential damage to your unit.

2. What should I do if my air conditioner is leaking water?

If you notice water leaking from your air conditioner, turn off the unit immediately and contact a professional HVAC technician. A leak could be caused by a clogged drain line, a frozen evaporator coil, or a malfunctioning condensate pump. Ignoring the issue could lead to water damage and mold growth in your home.

3. How often should I have my air conditioner serviced?

You should have your air conditioner serviced by a professional technician once a year before the cooling season begins. This will help identify and address any potential issues before they lead to costly repairs or a breakdown. Regular maintenance can also improve the efficiency and lifespan of your unit.

4. Can I clean my air conditioner myself?

While you can clean some parts of your air conditioner, such as the air filter or exterior fins, it is not recommended to attempt any internal cleaning or repairs on your own. A professional HVAC technician has the knowledge and tools to safely and effectively clean your unit without causing damage or voiding your warranty.

5. How can I improve the efficiency of my air conditioner?

There are several ways to improve the efficiency of your air conditioner, including keeping your air filter clean, sealing air leaks around windows and doors, using a programmable thermostat, and ensuring proper airflow by keeping furniture and other obstacles away from your vents. Regular maintenance by a professional technician can also improve efficiency and prevent costly repairs.

6. Should I cover my air conditioner during the winter?

It is not necessary to cover your air conditioner during the winter, as modern units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. However, if you live in an area with heavy snow or ice, you may want to place a piece of plywood or other sturdy cover over the top of your unit to prevent damage from falling debris.

7. How long should my air conditioner last?

The lifespan of your air conditioner depends on several factors, including the make and model, how often it is used, and how well it is maintained. On average, a well-maintained air conditioner should last 10-15 years. However, if your unit is experiencing frequent breakdowns or is over 15 years old, it may be time to consider replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient model.

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