Which Air Conditioning Components Need Maintenance?
Air Conditioning Filters – The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, or is subjected to conditions with high density contamination.
Air Conditioning Coils – The air conditioner’s evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, your evaporator coil(s) should be cleaned every year or possibly more frequently when installed in environments where airborne contamination is high in density.
Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty as air passes over it constantly during operation. In dense built up areas such as towns and cities, more frequent cleaning will be required to ensure operation of the system is not affected by dirt build up reducing capacity and efficiency as well as increasing the potential for failure.
Drainage System – Your air conditioner will make condensation on the evaporator coil when in cooling operation. This condensation runs down the coil into what is called a drip try. The accumulated condensation either drains away by gravity through connected drainage piping, or there is a water pump inside the unit which pumps the water out of the unit into drainage piping or in some cases, out of the building. It is important that the drip tray is cleaned during the maintenance visit to ensure that no blockages occur. Blocked drainage systems can cause the overflowing of the drip tray meaning water leakage from the unit into the room. If the drip tray remains dirty, it is possible for it to begin to smell. The fan of the unit will transfer the smell from the drip tray into the room which will not be nice for the occupants. If mould is allowed to grow, it can also become a health hazard so it is very important to have the drainage system fully cleaned during the maintenance of the air conditioner.
Fan Checks – Indoor and outdoor unit: These should be checked to ensure they do not have any abnormal vibration, and that they are not pulling excessive current. The guard which protects the fan in the outdoor unit should also be checked to ensure that it is tight and not broken in any way
Safety Devices Check – The outdoor unit has many safety devices present which will stop the unit when an abnormal operating condition occurs. These are important to protect the unit from major component failure and to ensure that the system does not continue to operate when trouble occurs. These should be manually checked during the maintenance visit to ensure correct operation.
Sensor & Valve Checks – Your air conditioner contains many sensor measuring refrigerant temperatures to enable calculation of capacity and correct operation. It is possible that these can become out of range due to moisture ingress of the bulb or the wiring connection can become loose meaning an abnormal reading may occur. An out of range sensor can cause capacity loss and even failure of parts such as the compressor.
The internal valves are controlled via the “Printed Circuit Board” (PCB) and are energised/de-energised dependant on the mode of operation. If a valve becomes faulty, operation of the system can be greatly affected and possible failure can occur. It is necessary that these important components are checked during servicing to minimise the risk of failure.
Leak Checking – Current legislation covering systems containing refrigerants need to have periodic leak checks carried out (See F-Gas Section for more information) and recorded. As the “Operator” you are responsible for keeping an up to date record of when these leak checks have been done. It is important that systems are checked to ensure no leakage as systems that do not contain sufficient refrigerant will be inefficient and will ultimately fail.
Full Load Testing – This should be carried out periodically so the system can be confirmed as operating correctly, with no component failure and that it is continuing to provide a comfortable environment for the occupants