How’s this heat wave treating you? Or rather, how’s this heat wave treating your air conditioner? It’s times like these when it’s hardly even worth it to go to the pool – sometimes, the best thing to do is just stay indoors. But if your air conditioner is on the fritz, even staying inside can feel like being in an oven!
Hopefully you had an AC tune up earlier this summer – if not, this is when you’ll start to feel it. Fortunately, it’s never too late for an AC tune up! AC tune ups are not quite as extensive as full on air conditioner repairs, but if you suspect a minor issue with your air conditioner, or if you’re worried that constant operation is causing excessive wear on your unit, it might be a good idea to schedule an AC tune up.
What happens during an AC tune up?
A typical AC tune up consists of more than just knocking on your compressor and peering into your vents. In fact, a good AC tune up will consist of:
Checking the expansion valve – the expansion valve meters the amount of refrigerant that runs through your AC. It’s important to make sure that the sensing bulb is not corroded or misaligned and that the tube that connects the valve to the bulb is smooth and not kinked.
AC tune up benefits: a strong expansion valve helps keep your air conditioner running at maximum efficiency.
Inspecting and cleaning the evaporator drain – if your evaporator drain is clogged, it could cause water damage to your unit and humidity problems inside.
AC tune up benefits: a clean evaporator drain will extend the life of your AC and make sure it provides proper dehumidification.
Checking and adjusting the bypass humidifier dampers – humidifier dampers should be closed during the summer, or else they will let cold air back into the humidifier and into the furnace. Open dampers will lower your AC’s efficiency and can cause your coil to freeze.
AC tune up benefits: closed humidifier dampers will help prevent your air conditioner from freezing (though this isn’t the only thing to watch out for), allowing maximum cooling and preventing potentially costly damage to your unit.
Checking your thermostat – if your thermostat is busted, you could end up with too much, or not enough, cooling.
AC tune up benefits: a working thermostat helps your air conditioner run at its maximum efficiency, saving you lots of money on your cooling bills.
Checking your thermostat selector – the thermostat selector is the little switch on your thermostat that controls whether the thermostat is in HEAT or COOL mode. If the switch is loose or the contacts are burnt, it could lead to no-cool situations.
AC tune up benefits: a faulty thermostat selector could cause some big problems later on.
Checking the circuit breaker – over time, your AC circuit breaker can become corroded or the fuse or breaker can overheat, which can lead to potentially serious system breakdowns (and possibly even electrical fires!).
AC tune up benefits: making sure the circuit breaker is fully operational can help prevent total system failure and potential fires (this one’s important!).
Checking the temperature across the evaporator – measures how far the actual temperature drops throughout your system. This information can be used to tell whether or not your air conditioner is actually providing the highest level of cooling.
AC tune up benefits: making sure the temperature actually drops is a good way to ensure that the unit is operating correctly and efficiently.
Cleaning and checking the condenser cabinet – there are all sorts of things that can go wrong with your condenser cabinet: a broken fan guard could prevent air moving through the coil (or worse, could allow your kids access to the moving fan and electrical components!), etc.
AC tune up benefits: making sure the condenser cabinet is in good shape helps keep your air conditioner safe and efficient.
Cleaning the condenser drain pan – the condenser drain pan has holes that allow condensate to drain out. These holes can get blocked by leaves and other debris, allowing your pan to fill up with water which can cover up refrigeration lines, coils, even your compressor motor, leading to all sorts of (potentially expensive) problems.
AC tune up benefits: a clean, free-flowing condenser drain pan can prevent costly water damage to your unit.
Checking the fins on the condenser – the fins are designed to radiate heat pulled from inside your house and move it outside. It’s important that your fins are in good shape to ensure peak airflow through your unit.
AC tune up benefits: well working fins can save you money, make your coils last longer and maximize your AC’s cooling capacity.
Cleaning the condenser coil – any debris or other foreign material that gets onto your condenser coil will reduce your AC’s ability to remove heat from the house.
AC tune up benefits: a clean coil will save you money and extend the life of your unit.
Checking and oiling the condenser fan motor – normal wear and tear is common for all mechanical devices, so checking the level of wear and adding lubrication is sometimes essential.
AC tune up benefits: a properly lubricated fan is much less likely to break down and will allow your AC to run longer.
Checking the voltage and amperage on the motors – improper voltage or amperage can severely reduce the life of your compressor, capacitors and contactors.
AC tune up benefits: extends the life of your AC’s electrical components, preventing the need for costly repairs.
Checking the fan blades for tightness and pitch – a fan blade that is loose or at the wrong pitch might not produce the proper RPMs, even if the motor is running at the proper speed. This could prevent your unit from properly cooling your house and can also shorten the life of your fan motor.
AC tune up benefits: a properly working fan will extend the component’s life and prevent it from making too much noise when it runs.
Checking the start and run relays and contactors – pretty self explanatory. This ensures that the system starts and runs when called on.
AC tune up benefits: prevents potentially serious problems (you’re probably beginning to see a theme here).
Checking the temperature across the condenser coils – too much or too little refrigerant in your system can damage the compressor and seriously curtail your AC’s efficiency.
AC tune up benefits: improves your system’s efficiency and staves off potential damage.
Checking the wiring assembly – loose wiring connections can cause different components to get the wrong amount of voltage, potentially causing them to fail.
AC tune up benefits: adjusting the wiring assembly can extend the life and safety of your AC.
Checking the head pressure – if the head pressure gets too high, it can damage the valves necessary for system operation.
AC tune up benefits: extends system life and helps prevent costly repairs.
Checking the refrigerant lines – since they are exposed to a variety of different things, outdoor refrigerant lines should be regularly inspected for kinks and dents. Line insulation should also be checked for proper coverage so that condensation doesn’t damage furniture, ceilings of walls.
AC tune up benefits: catching problems with your refrigerant lines early can help prevent system failure and property damage.
As necessary, your AC tune up may include more or fewer steps than these listed. If you think your AC is starting to wear down, don’t wait until the next big heat wave to hit – call All Seasons Heating & Cooling for an AC tune up today!