10 commandments for keeping your aircon in shape

maintaining your aircon

We asked our expert for some advice to make sure your air-conditioning unit is working perfectly in preparation for summer.

Winter is over and the days are getting warmer. Durban is known for having some days that are exceptionally hot, even before the summer begins in earnest and you may well be already using your air conditioner in your home or office to keep cool.

However, it is important to make sure that your air conditioner is kept in top condition, not only so that it will work as it should, but also to prolong its life and prevent problems when you least want to find yourself sitting in a hot room come mid-summer.

With the help of our air conditioning expert, Wayne Muller, regional sales manager of Airco in Durban, we have put together a list of things you should have done before switching on your cooling unit, and things you need to make sure of to keep it running properly.

Similar to your motor vehicle that requires servicing, so do your air-conditioning units – every 6 months for residential and 3 months for retail and commercial installations. “It is important to use reliable air-conditioning contractors to service and maintain your systems,” said Wayne who listed some examples he recommends including Dragt and Asso, CS Airconditioning, Airconditioning Industrial Maintenance, Homeaire, Combined air and DJ Thermal.

“Most common air-conditioning units for homes are mid-wall or split units,” explained Wayne, who said while basic maintenance can be carried out by homeowners themselves, comprehensive services should be done by an approved service agent.

If you are going to do any work on your air-conditioning unit, it is essential that you ensure the mains to the unit are switched off.

1 Clean the air flaps and covers to ensure the unit is clean and free of dirt and dust. When doing this it is important to make sure no harsh chemicals are used, a damp cloth works best.

2 The indoor unit’s filters can be accessed by lifting the flap and removing the filters – there are usually 2- which can then be washed to remove dirt, dried and placed back into the unit. Wayne says this should be done every second month.

3 Check the drain line, normally located by the indoor cooling coil. If you flush one cup of chlorine bleach down your air conditioning drain and rinse it with a jug of water, you can keep your drain clear through the summer. Air-conditioner drain lines become clogged when there is a buildup of dirt collected by the indoor coil.

4 Check any exposed ductwork for wear, which could be a source of cooling loss or inefficiency in the home. Look at air vents around the home. Remove any items that could block airflow, such as drapes, furniture or toys.

Wayne mentioned that since airconditioning units don’t use up gas in normal working, if the air conditioner requires a refrigerant gas charge, there must be a leak on the system.

This needs to be located and repaired before recharging the system.” Approved service agents are your best bet in this case as only they can complete a comprehensive service of your units.

5 Inspect the outdoor condenser unit. Make sure there is no blockage in or near the equipment and clean the area around the unit. Leaves, vines or debris can block the interior components and affect performance. Check for any missing panels which are designed to enclose the electrical connections, inspect all panels for signs of corrosion which can be repaired by the service agent.

6 Visually check the refrigerant lines which should be insulated. Proper insulation will improve the efficiency of the system. Repairs to the insulation or refrigerant lines should be done by a professional.

7 Check to make sure there is no wear on the outdoor electrical wiring. If you see damage or wear, call a professional for service before using your system

8 Once all checks are complete, check the remote control batteries in the back for any leakage, replace and clean if required. Turn the unit on heating for 15 min on highest temperature to dry out the coil and assist in killing bacteria.

9 Once complete, switch unit into cooling and check indoor and outdoor running for any unusual noises or excess vibrating, if nothing is amiss your air conditioner is ready for use.

10 Don’t forget to do your services. Service agents complete the comprehensive service and check the refrigerant levels (gas), and electrical workings of the amps.

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