Take These Steps to Ensure AC Unit Longevity and Efficiency

AC Unit Protection

Air conditioning systems have been designed to provide indoor comfort for many years - but not forever.  So, when the system breaks or malfunctions, it’s often a surprise, and contact is made with an HVAC technician to ‘fix’ the problem and get the old system working again. Sometimes the ‘fix’ results in the need for a brand-new HVAC system. Many HVAC technicians report that air conditioning systems malfunction primarily because of improper service and lack of regular maintenance.

Like all appliances or machines, air conditioners are complex systems requiring similar maintenance schedules as any vehicle.  Regular maintenance of air conditioning systems should be scheduled once or twice each year, depending on the geographic location of the system. Quite often, a small problem discovered during routine maintenance is a simple repair. The same small problem, when not discovered early, can result in an expensive repair or lead to a premature malfunction of the entire air conditioning system when needed the most. 

During routine maintenance, an HVAC technician will inspect and ‘tune up’ the system, clean or replace the air filters, and inspect the refrigerant levels.  If a small refrigerant leak is discovered in the system, products such as AC Leak Freeze can quickly seal it.

Neglecting maintenance on air conditioners can pose several risks and potentially lead to numerous problems, including:

- Compromised Energy Efficiency
As dust and dirt accumulate on components of the air conditioning system, its energy-efficient performance is jeopardized. This means lower levels of comfort and higher utility bills. Often, dirty evaporator coils are perfect breeding grounds for mold, mildew, fungus, and more. Products like Coil Cure and Coil Cure AM can keep the coils clean and protected.

- Outdoor Unit Performance
Dust and dirt can accumulate on the outdoor unit of an air conditioning system, too, and cause a reduction in the efficiency and performance of the system. To keep evaporator and condenser coils clean and efficient, products like Foam-A-Coil are designed to remove built-up dust, dirt, and debris quickly and easily from coils.

- Excessive Wear and Tear
Neglected maintenance can accelerate the wear and tear on the components of an air conditioning system. As mentioned, a dirty or neglected system will not provide efficient cooling, will consume additional energy leading to higher utility bills, and can malfunction the entire air conditioning system.

- Increased Breakdown Risk
A significant risk of a neglected system is the increased risk of breakdowns. When air conditioning components are not properly maintained, they are more susceptible to malfunctioning or unexpected breakdowns when the system is most needed, such as during the hottest summer days.

Beyond regular maintenance, there are several actions that owners of an air conditioning system can take to help extend its life and performance. Outdoor condensing units need air circulation, so avoid obstructions such as debris, vegetation, or other objects near them that might impede airflow to the unit.  The system’s air filters need to be cleaned or replaced regularly.

Air Filter Maintenance and Weather Protection for Optimal HVAC Performance 

Dirty air filters can restrict airflow to the system causing inefficient operation, resulting in higher operating costs and potentially leading to premature failure of the entire air conditioning system. Additional precautions are suggested if the air conditioning system is installed where severe weather occurs.  High winds from hurricanes and intense storms can cause the unit to move from its original position.  Products like AC GUARD can help keep the unit stationary, and it is also a viable deterrent to the theft of an air conditioner.

The registers and vents are an often overlooked but essential component of an air conditioning system.  Blocked vents and registers can impede airflow and cause the air conditioning system to work excessively to maintain a comfortable temperature, leading to the system's potential failure. Furniture, drapes, and other obstructions should be removed from the registers and vents in any conditioned space. If the registers and vents are broken or not adequately operational, replacement options are available from brands like TRUaire, offering a variety of colors and sizes to complement any need.

Surge Protection and Maintenance Tips

Electrical surges can cause significant damage to air conditioning systems.  Some common issues include compressor damage, capacitor failure, circuit board damage, motor burnout, control system malfunctions, and sensory component failure. Unfortunately, these issues can result in expensive invoices when they are repaired, including replacing the entire air conditioning system. Products like the RSH-50 VRM KIT provide multiple protection, including a voltage range monitor and a fused disconnect. Surge protection devices are specially designed for air conditioning systems.  They help divert excessive voltage away from the system, mitigating the risk of damage.  Additionally, using surge protectors for the system’s electrical components protects the electrical wiring and grounding, which are essential to the trouble-free performance of the system. To protect circuit boards, products like Gulfcoat Circuit Shield are designed to provide a transparent coating avoiding potential damage due to water or excess humidity.  Circuit boards are one of the more expensive components of an air conditioning system, which can’t work without one.

The Importance of Insulated Linesets and Wall Penetration Sealing

Proper refrigerant flow is critical to the performance of an air conditioning system. Refrigerant linesets connecting the outdoor and indoor components should be insulated to avoid energy loss and lack of cooling capacity. Over time, the lineset insulation can become cracked, brittle, or damaged due to extreme weather and UV radiation from the sun.  Many areas require covers for the insulation, such as Outset™ Jacket, to avoid problems of insulation deterioration. Linesets must penetrate the wall of a structure to connect the outdoor and indoor components of an air conditioning system. Open holes or spaces allow rodents, insects, and other pests to enter. Further, insulation gaps due to the wall structure can lead to a loss of energy transfer or energy efficiency of the system.  Outset™ Seal is a product designed to help eliminate all those concerns.  When properly installed, it effectively seals the wall penetration and protects against energy loss.

Protecting Your HVAC System: The Importance of Novent Locking Caps

Installing Novent locking caps is essential for HVAC systems to prevent refrigerant theft and inhalant abuse.  Since February 2009, the International Mechanical Code (IMC) and International Residential Code (IRC) have required that all outdoor access ports on HVAC refrigerant circuits be fitted with locking-type, tamper-resistant caps. The Code Commentary refers to a ‘special tool or key’ as to how to comply with the code. Signs of refrigerant theft or abuse include low refrigerant level with no detected leaks, missing lineset service caps, uncommon tools, and finding plastic bags or items near the HVAC condenser.  Novent locking caps require special tools to apply and remove them, making it difficult for non-professionals to access refrigerant. Novent locking caps are a proven code-compliant solution.

Enhancing and Safeguarding Your HVAC System: The Benefits of Lineset Covers

Refrigerant linesets can also be subject to physical damage if not appropriately protected.  Lineset covers protect the refrigerant line sets, control wires, and guard against physical damage.  An added bonus, lineset covers hide unsightly linesets and enhance the air conditioning system’s installation. Products like Slimduct, Cover Guard, and Fortress brands are recognized as excellent lineset covers and are available in various colors to match nearly any exterior color. Lineset protection and beautification from one product are a great combination.

Air conditioning systems are not designed to last forever. But regular maintenance and service using the right combination of industry-leading products can extend the system's life, maintain efficiency, and help avoid costly repairs. 

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Posted in: News HVAC