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Keeping Your Air Conditioner Clean

clean replace air filterAt different times in the year we probably all need to get serious about cleaning at home in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield (IL). It might be a deep scrub and purge in spring, or perhaps a good clean and sweep of the yard during fall.

As we know, clean and unobstructed conditions can often contribute to favorable circumstances. For us, that might mean more organization at home (and less time spent dealing with mess and looking for things). A well-kept yard can be attractive as well.

For air conditioners, being tidy and clean helps them perform better so they can keep us cooler for longer with fewer problems and lower costs of operation.

If we don’t keep the air conditioner clean, vital components such as the fins, filter and coils will wear and falter, leading to a steady decline in our cooling. Issues related to dirt and debris are actually a top cause of AC breakdowns and repairs in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield. In some cases, not keeping an air conditioner cleaned and maintained can even void an active warranty on it.

Beyond performance problems, a dirty unit can gather dust, mold, mildew and other pollutants that compromise the air we breathe at home. We care about the water we drink and the food we eat in maintaining our health – we should consider the quality of the air we take in as well!

At Air Dynamics, we want you to be just as informed as you are well-served. Here we’ll look at some ways you can help to keep your air conditioner clean. We’ll also identify when to include a professional for optimal cleaning and maintenance.

Keeping Your Air Conditioner Clean: The Filter

The air filter is an example of how a lot can depend on so little. A cooling system is a complex network of components and wiring acting in unison, yet without a modestly priced part in the proper condition, the entire system can slow and break down.

The air filter traps material such as dust, pollen and pet dander that otherwise would enter the air that you breathe. By trapping the particles, the filter prevents them from being re-circulated through your home.

Checking the filter periodically also contributes to greater energy efficiency. Having a clean filter instead of a dirty one in place can lower the AC’s energy consumption up to 15%. A regularly replaced filter further helps to keep other system components such as the evaporator and condenser coils cleaner.

On average, the filter should be checked every 90 days and, if needed, replaced. During peak seasons such as July and August, it should probably be checked every six to eight weeks. While many filters are disposable for each replacement, some of today’s air filters also can be cleaned and re-used.

The filter should have the right airflow (MERV) rating for your particular unit. You can locate this information in your user manual or by searching for it online.

While the MERV rating can reach as high as 20, many air conditioners in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield use a filter with a rating between 5 and 8, which is the baseline for permanently installed residential units. This rating means the filter captures particles greater than three micrometers, such as mold, dander and residue from aerosol sprays.

If someone in the house has an allergy or a respiratory condition, a filter with a higher rating might be needed. The professionals at Air Dynamics can help homeowners determine the right level of filtration in such a case.

Improvements in home building may also continue creating a need for greater filtration. Better insulation and airtight construction reduce air circulation. This favors fewer leaks and lower utility bills, but it also prevents fresh outdoor air from coming inside. Indoor pollutants such as from cooking and cleaning can gather more easily. If the AC is the home’s main source of ventilation and filtration, a higher MERV rating might be required.

Keeping Your Air Conditioner Clean: What You Can Do

You can support your AC’s fitness and cleanliness with a few basic steps.

Clean and clear the area. Inspect your outdoor unit before each season and clean off dust and dirt. With gloves on, also clear away any leaves, branches, objects and debris that may have gathered on or around it. Trim any bushes as needed.

Aim to keep at least two feet of clearance around the unit. Also be sure not plant any larger bushes close to the air conditioner.

Be mindful when mowing. Grass clippings can easily get blown up while the lawn’s being mowed, and they can both enter the unit and stick to its outer walls. Note any clippings that might be gathering in or on the air conditioner and wash them off.

Cover the unit for winter. Covering your air conditioner during winter will help protect it from the season’s harsh elements and prevent them from entering the unit.

Keeping Your Air Conditioner Clean: Bring In a Pro

Having your air conditioner inspected and cleaned at least once every 12 months contributes to greater system performance and longevity. The best time to schedule a cleaning in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield is in late winter, which will prepare your system for the months of peak operation ahead.

Just a few important steps of a professional air conditioner cleaning include:

  • cleaning the filters in front of the fan coil
  • cleaning the fan coil at the head unit
  • checking the airflow from the head unit
  • flushing the condensate drain
  • checking electrical connections
  • checking the refrigerant level and gas pressure
  • vacuuming the cooling system
  • removing any obstructions from the outdoor unit

During the professional cleaning, the technician also can detect if any minor issues are developing that could cause greater problems later in the cooling season. Catching such items early can save a lot of time, money and inconvenience.

Contact Us Today

A clean air conditioner often reinforces greater system efficiency, lower electric bills, fewer costly repairs and better indoor air quality. Keeping it clean is a win! To ask further questions or schedule an AC cleaning at your home in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield, simply give us a call at (630) 731-1550.

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