Maintaining Your Central Air System
Central air conditioning (A.C.) is a luxury we all love. But like with anything we love it needs care and nurturing. Here are a few tips:
First on the list is to keep your HVAC filter clean. HVAC means “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.” You probably refer to your filter as the “furnace filter”. But it needs to be washed, cleaned or replaced regardless of the season. Some filters require replacing and/or cleaning monthly, even three months, six months or annually. Check with the manufacturer.
Your AC doesn’t need your furnace but it needs the ductwork, blower and filter that are part of the furnace.
Usually, the ductwork above your furnace the is called a plenum, in which is an AC coil (usually referred to as an “A-coil.” When the thermostat calls for AC, the condenser outside converts a refrigerant from a liquid to a gas, which in turn, turns the coil cold.
When your furnace fan comes on, it pulls air from throughout the house through the ducts where it is cooled by crossing the coil. That’s maybe a little simplified, but it works.
The condenser outside needs minor maintenance as well. Keep shrubs and vegetation away from it for at least one foot. The condenser must be kept clean to allow air to flow evenly.
In Michigan, at certain times of the year, we get all kinds of stuff falling from the trees (read that as cottonwoods). If not removed they will clog the condenser and damage it. It is easy to clean. Turn off the power to the A.C. and using a garden hose wash downward on the fins until clean.
One final thing: don’t wrap and cover your AC unit in the fall to keep it clean. It doesn’t need it. The unit is designed to be outside in the elements. If you wrap it, we’ve seen small animals such as mice and chipmunks find that enclosure to be a nice home in the winter. When those rodents get hungry enough, they look at the red and black wires like licorice and chew on them.
If you feel a need to protect the condenser, just put a piece of plywood on top of it with a brick to keep the board from blowing off.
And speaking of off, I’m outta here!