There has been some question from my customers in the past few months about heating and air conditioning Cleanings and their importance to the proper operation of the equipment. I wanted to write this article to discuss a few important issues that can occur in absence of the annual maintenance. There are two important cleanings that need to be performed by a qualified heating and air conditioning company to ensure safety and proper system operation. For the sake of this article we will split up the cleanings into two separate articles (furnace cleaning and air conditioning cleaning) and only discuss one at a time.
Air Conditioning Clean and Check
After an entire winter of being dormant and not in use, an air conditioning system has a big job at task upon first starting up for the summer flooded basement Chicago. The way an air conditioning condensing unit (outside unit) works is by changing the state of the refrigerant in the system from a liquid to a gas. This generates a heat transfer and cools the air through a coil inside your home. So after 7 months of not being used the component that compresses the refrigerant back to a liquid has not been used and lubricated through the refrigerant.
That last paragraph is a lot to handle for your first time reading, but it gives an idea of the complexity of the system and the importance to maintain it. So when a heating and air conditioning contractor comes to look at the system for the first time of the year and turns the unit on there are some initial visual and audio tells we look for. This is an important part of the first runup of the year to ensure there is no damage to the unit. If something looks wrong in the freon levels or the compressor sounds abnormal the contractor can shut the unit down and assess the unit for damage. After initial inspection of the unit and ensuring proper cycling of the unit the cleaning would begin.
Cleaning the unit properly is the second part to this important air conditioning annual maintenance. The fins on the condensing unit are like a automobile radiator. They use tubes and fins to run the refrigerant through and pass air across that using a fan. This coil gets very clogged every summer and need to be cleaned each and every year. The problem comes when the homeowner sprays the coil from the outside in the get the leaves and debris off. This just pushes the debris more into the coil and plugs it even further.
The only proper way to clean a coil is to open the top of the condensing unit and take the fan off. Then by using either nitrogen or water, spray from the inside out cleaning the coil from the top to the bottom. Some companies use chemicals to clean the coil, but this is not intended for every year use. With proper annual cleaning there should be no reason to use chemicals to clean the unit.
After the initial check of the unit working and cleaning of the unit the contractor will check the refrigerant levels of the unit. This is somewhat of a process because of all the different factors that are involved with a proper running air conditioning unit. If the outside and inside coils are clean, and there is proper airflow in the home, your unit can properly be checked for freon levels.
There is a good amount more involved in how an air conditioning system works, but for the cleaning and maintenance this should be enough information. By performing the maintenance every year you can have the personal assurance that your equipment will last a long time without having any major issues to inconvenience your family.