Scottsdale AC units like any appliance in your home, needs regular maintenance, so it runs efficiently and for as many years as possible. In Scottsdale, AZ there are a number of professional technicians who can perform this service for under $200 (typically). However, for those Scottsdale residents who are a little handy and want to save some money, you can do regular maintenance yourself. Here are a few preventative steps you can take to keep your AC unit running smooth and keeping you cool all season long.
VITAL FIRST STEP: Turn off the power to the entire air conditioner system! That should include any switches, plugs and at your breaker box. You do not want the unit turning on while you’re busy cleaning.
Let’s start with the outside, because honestly, how often to we check out the side of the house where that AC condenser unit is tucked away?
Clean Up Debris
This basic first step includes trimming any overgrown bushes or plantings, cutting grass and sweeping away any leaves or other yard waste that may have built up near your AC unit. You want to make sure there is a good two-foot perimeter around your unit and nothing is obstructing the unit’s airflow. This also means you want to sweep, vacuum or wipe away dirt and debris on the condenser itself.
Pop the Top
Once the outside and surrounding area are clean, it’s time to remove the top grate (usually held in place by screws). As you remove the top, watch out for any wires attached to the fan. Check for any yard debris on the inside and wipe down dirty inside surfaces with a mild soap formula. This includes cleaning off the fan blades of built up dirt and dust. If the blades are rusty, bent or otherwise damaged, you may need to have them replaced.
Hose it Down
This is actually done by gently hosing off the fins from the inside of the unit out (you want the dirt out of the unit, right?) Be sure you’re only using a hose and sprayer with medium pressure as power washers are too intense and can damage the fins. And speaking of fins, take a look for any that are bent. You can straighten them up with a fin comb available at most hardware stores. Wear gloves if you do this to protect your hands from sharp edges.
While it’s still about cleaning mode, inside AC units have different steps to ensuring they are running at top notch efficiency.
Clean the Coils
If you can access the coils, it’s a good idea to check for dust and dirt. There is usually an access panel (sometimes it’s sealed with foil tape) that you can remove. First, use a clean, soft paint brush to wipe off any visible build up. Next, spray down the coil with coil cleaner (again, available at most hardware stores) and let it sit for about 10 minutes…the cleaner and any dirt will drip into the drain pan at the bottom of the AC unit. Wipe down any excess cleaner from the coils and then clean and dry the drain pan with soap and water.
Brush out the Drain Tube
If your drain is flowing well, you probably don’t have any problems here. However, it’s a good idea to check for anything blocking the pipes. Once you’ve located the drain and evaporator pipes, use a thin wire brush to clean it all out. You can then rinse with water until it runs clear.
Change the Filter
This is probably the easiest step in keeping your central air system running well. So, even if this is all you end up doing, it can still save you about 15% on your cooling bill. The filter catches the majority of dirt and dust that goes through the system, so keeping it clean ensures a more efficient system. Most manufacturers recommend you change it every six months (once before heating season and once before cooling season). As with the other items needed for AC unit clean up, you can purchase most filters at your local hardware or home improvement store.
When DIY is Enough
After you’ve cleaned your everything, you can turn all the power back on and let your until run a full cycle. Most times you’re good to go and you’ve saved yourself anywhere from $75 – $150 dollars. However, if it doesn’t seem to be cooling well enough, it is time to consider buying a new ac unit at up to 50% off and call one of Scottsdale’s professional HVAC repairmen we work with.
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If you need further advice on your air conditioning system, contact CentralAir for advice from one of our live AC Specialists.