A good air conditioner is an important appliance in hot, humid Jacksonville. Nobody wants the A/C to shut down in the middle of a warm day, but a few minor maintenance steps can prevent costly A/C repair later on. Here are some tips to keep your air conditioner running:
There are two main components of air conditioning maintenance that homeowners can control — filter changes and drain lines. The first one to take care of is your filter.
A/C filters catch a lot of the dust, dander, and lint floating around your home. Unfortunately, even filters that are working properly can cause problems in the long run, because they build up this debris over time and cause your air conditioner to work harder. This can make it overheat and become terribly inefficient. Simply changing the filter and cleaning the grate can help you avoid A/C repair by keeping your unit working more efficiently.
The drain line leading to the outside of your home is frequently overlooked, but homeowners can actually maintain it themselves. An air conditioner, be it a small window unit or a large centralized one, is nothing more than a big dehumidifier. Air in the room is drawn in through the filter and intake, then blown across coils filled with coolant and returned back into your home. Condensation collects on the coils as warm air passes over them, and this condensation drips down into a pan beneath your unit. The water is then funneled out of your home to the yard through a small PVC pipe (usually an inch in diameter). This pipe can become clogged with yard waste, dirt, mold, and mildew. This usually occurs at the opening of the pipe outside, but that gunk can travel up into the pipe.
To make sure your drain line is clean, you should go outside of your home to locate the line. You usually will find a one-inch pipe near the outside A/C unit. Sometimes this line can be covered up with dirt or mulch during new home construction. Clear the area to make sure the water flows out — it’s usually just a trickle, but over time the water can get backed up. Spray straight bleach into the end of the pipe to kill the mold and mildew.
From the inside, under the air handler unit, find the drip pan (a large, thin aluminum pan). The pan will usually be tilted in one direction, and at the corner of that tilt area you can find the top of the drain pipe. Pour two capfulls of straight bleach down the line. If there are any right-angle joints down the air handler line, mold and mildew can accumulate in those areas as well. The bleach will sit in those areas and kill the mold.
If you do not adequately maintain this drain line, water can get backed up in the drain pan, where it will overflow and ultimately cause water damage to the surrounding areas. This turns a small problem into a costly A/C repair. For homes or condominiums with an air handler that is on the second story or higher, this overflowing water can damage ceilings and walls underneath.
With these simple how-to tips, you can keep your air conditioner running at optimal performance and avoid paying for A/C repair. For more tips on maintaining your air conditioner, check out these posts from Jacksonville’s Snyder Heating and Air Conditioning. Be sure to check your unit regularly and take the necessary precautions to avoid having to shell out big bucks later.
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