Installing, Servicing and Maintaining your Air Conditioning Unit Before Installation

Before you begin to install your ACU, you should ensure that you’re buying one that’s right for the environment you’re looking to air-condition. Something that’s too big will be wasteful; something that’s too small will be ineffective.

This decision can be crucial one, particularly if you’re looking to air-condition a large environment. For this reason, one should take advantage of a free site survey like the one offered here. This will allow you to be sure that you’re going to get the most suitable appliance for your needs.

An air-conditioner is a piece of mechanical equipment with the potential to produce a great deal of noise. For this reason, it’s common practice that Local Authorities carry out a survey to ascertain how noisy the area is before the installation. They might then demand evidence of how the AC unit might contribute to the noise, in the form of aNoise Impact Assessment. Again, if you’re looking to install a unit through All Seasons Climate Control, then this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about, as the assessment will be taken care of by a professional acoustic specialist.

If you’re thinking of installing a window-mounted unit, then you should be sure that the frame you’re looking to install the unit into is in good condition, and that the window will be unable to open once the unit is put into place.

Installation

There are a number of different pitfalls one might fall into when installing an AC unit. Most of these involve the structure of the unit – obviously, it’s desirable that the unit be kept structurally secure, so that it does not fall over while in operation. This applies especially to the exterior of the unit, which must be situation above ground level, in order to protect it against the weather and from vandalism.

Units should also be attached in such a way that they’re unable to move and shift around. While in operation, a unit might vibrate thanks to the powerful fan contained within. This, combined with the threat of wind, might over time cause the unit to loosen, until its vibrating to the point of danger.

Since an AC unit is a heavy appliance, this means that metal brackets and mounting rails should be employed. Obviously, loose objects like pieces of wood, bricks and telephone books are not ideal. Neither should the AC unit itself be used as a makeshift support for other objects, like aerials, satellite dishes and plants.

Whilst the unit should be unable to move, it should ideally be slightly tilted so as to provide drainage. If a unit should become filled with water, it may become inoperable, or, in some cases, permanently damaged. This outcome can be avoided by providing adequate drainage.

Suffice to say, fire escapes should not be blocked with AC units, as this may result in fines – or, worse still, tragedy. In order to avoid these problems, it’s often best to enlist the aid of a professional, who will have the experience necessary to anticipate and avoid these problems before they occur.

Servicing and Maintenance

However expertly you might have installed the air conditioner, there are always situations where it will fail. Perhaps this might be the result of poor weather conditions, of misuse, or of simple rotten luck. In any case, the best way to get the most out of an AC system is through servicing and maintenance.

For the most part, it’s best to proceed on a pro-active basis, as preventing problems from occurring is far cheaper than addressing them once they’ve arisen. Scheduling regular maintenance and services is therefore often the best way to proceed.

The most important aspect of a service should be to check that the air conditioner is not suffering problems that would be picked up during an installation. Namely that the unit has come loose and begun to tilt, causing the pooling problems we discussed earlier, and posing a risk of catastrophic collapse. If a support has been damaged, perhaps through wind damage or vandalism, then a replacement should be acquired and fitted before the weight of the unit causes the problem to grow worse. Mechanical failure might also cause the unit to fail, so maintenance will also involve replacing faulty parts, like fans and the like.

But aside from these obvious and urgent problems, we should also consider the slow incremental damage that can markedly shorten an air-conditioner’s lifespan.

Firstly, we should check on the condition of the filters. These are the thin sheets of fabric designed to prevent the air conditioner from distributing dirty air around your interior. But part of this job means that these filters become dirty over time, and require occasional maintenance to ensure that they’re in good condition. Take them out and clean them with a can of compressed air – or, if they’re especially dirty, replace them. If they’re especially malodorous, then you might consider soaking them in detergent before returning them to the unit.

Once you’ve removed the filter, you’ll have access to the coils themselves. These are the long, curling pieces of piping which collect and distribute heat at either end of the chain. In order to conduct heat efficiently, the surface of these coils should be kept clean – as the layer of smoke, mold and mildew which can form on them will act as an insulator, thereby limiting the unit’s capacity to work properly. This can be done using a special cleaning agent, which comes in a can.

This cleaning process will also help to eliminate any odors that might occur as a result of that grimy build-up. You’ll need to be careful at this point not to inadvertently spray any electrical wires or controls with the foam, as this may cause more problems than it could ever solve!

Naturally, you’ll have to clean the coils less often if you clean the filter regularly, as dirt buildup in the latter will lead to dirt-buildup on the former.

After this basic cleaning has been carried out, you’ll want to wait awhile (say, quarter of an hour) before running the unit again at the lowest possible temperature. This will draw the warm, humid air over the coils, causing it to condense and thereby wash any remaining loose dirt from them. This water will then collect in the drip pan, which can be collected and emptied. In dry climates, this process will take longer.

In situations where the unit is especially dirty, it may be necessary to repeat this entire process – or, as the shampoo-based idiom goes: lather, rinse, repeat. If the unit still doesn’t pump out cold air, then we should consider alternative explanations – perhaps, for example, the compressor is in need of replacement, or the refrigerant has leaked somewhere.

If you’re servicing a multi-component ac system, you’ll need to repeat this process on the outdoor coils. You’ll not need to contend with the filter at this stage and, since the outdoor coils will have been exposed to rainwater, you might not need to clean them quite so vigorously. Apply the foaming cleanser, and wait for quarter of an hour or so for it to do its work. A liberal sprinkling with the garden hose should be all that’s required to restore your coils to their former state of sparkling cleanliness – but if it isn’t then don’t hesitate to repeat the entire procedure again.

If you find that you’re having to clean your coils twice, then this is likely an indication that you’re not cleaning them often enough. Whilst it might be tempting to do all of your cleaning work in larger chunks, putting it off can mean that the system doesn’t work as effectively in the meantime, and that it’s overall lifespan is dramatically shortened – so be sure to keep on top of things.

Of course, having these tasks performed by a qualified servicing engineer will help to ensure that they’re done properly and thoroughly. An air conditioner is an expensive piece of equipment, after all – and it’s often better to shell out for maintenance now than it is to do so for a replacement later.

As important and useful as maintenance is, there are some instances, naturally, where it may be necessary to replace the unit rather than repairing it. It’s important to recognise where this is the case and take action, as frequent malfunctions and engineer call-outs can often be more costly in the long run than replacing the unit sooner. That’s before we even consider the impact of having no air conditioning – particularly if you’re looking after sensitive goods or people during those ultra-sticky summer months.