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Will My AC Unit Survive the Summer?

The dog days of summer are right around the corner. With those hot, lazy days fast approaching, the last thing you want is for your air conditioner to go clunk in the night. Not to worry, though. Here at Entek, we have more than seven decades of experience serving the Longview and Vancouver-Portland areas. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to determine if your AC unit will last through this summer.

First, don’t delay in checking the cooling unit in your home. If it needs repair, now is the perfect time to have it serviced by our certified and professional technicians. So, what should you be on the lookout for?

Begin by checking the panels of your outdoor condenser unit. You’ll want to make sure that all the panels are in place and that none are ajar or missing. If you find one or more panels are missing, call one of our qualified technicians to have it replaced.

Next, you’ll want to check the insulation of your suction pipe. This is the larger of the two pipes running from your outdoor unit into the wall of your home. Inspect the insulation of the pipe to make sure it isn’t cracked and that no part of the pipe is exposed.

If you find that the foam insulation needs to be replaced, check the copper pipe for a diameter size (5/8, 3/4, or 7/8, for example) to find out what size insulation will be needed. You can purchase new foam pipe sleeves at most hardware stores or your local air conditioner store. (Note: you should not insulate the smaller of the two pipes.)

Once you’ve checked the unit’s insulation, you’ll want to remove any dirt and debris from the unit’s coils. Wind can often blow trash and other pollutants into your condenser unit. This can clog the system, making it operate less efficiently. You’ll want to check the evaporator and condenser coils to ensure they’re clean and clear of debris.

The evaporator and condenser coils work in tandem to facilitate the unit’s heat exchange process. The evaporator coils hold the refrigerant that removes the heat from your home’s air and then transfers that refrigerant to the compressor and finally, the condenser coils outdoors, where most of the absorbed heat is released.

In order to inspect the evaporator coil, turn off the unit and shut off the electricity to the air handler. Then remove the evaporator coil access panel, shown here. Assess the condition of the coils. If you notice mold, dirt, pet hair, or any other sort of debris, your coils will need to be cleaned. If they are in especially bad shape, you may need to call an Entek HVAC specialist. If they look only slightly dirty, then you can likely clean the coils yourself with a few supplies purchased from your neighborhood air conditioner store.

There a few different type of cleansers on the market and an air conditioner store employee can make recommendations for your specific unit, however it’s best to confirm with an HVAC specialist too.

Coils are made of various materials — aluminum, copper, etc. — and using the wrong cleaning solution will do more harm than good as the coils are very sensitive and will rapidly corrode, so make sure you are purchasing the proper one.

Once you’ve selected your cleaning solution, turn the AC on and spray the cleanser evenly over the evaporator coils. This should do the trick. But if you need to do some more thorough cleaning, try using a pump sprayer and commercial cleaning detergent.

You should also check the coil drainage hose to make sure the condensate is draining properly. If you notice standing water in the drain pan, it is a good sign that the drainage hose may be clogged. Use a shop vacuum to remove whatever is clogging the drain. Then identify the hose’s access point and use distilled vinegar or peroxide to clear out the remaining debris. Wait a half hour and then flush the hose with water.

Once you’ve checked the evaporator coils and the coil drainage hose, you’ll want to turn your attention to the unit’s condenser coils. If you notice any dirt or debris, take a brush and gently clean the fins. If you notice any ice build-up, this could be a sign that you have a dirty air filter, dirty air vents, or a duct blockage. It also may be a sign of low refrigerant, which means you should contact an Entek HVAC specialist.

A bad condenser fan motor could also cause your HVAC unit to stop operating at maximum efficiency. In order to check the motor, turn the unit on and leave it running for a while. A bad motor will typically blow cool air initially, but after some time it will begin to blow room temperature air instead. Of course, there could also be another reason the fan isn’t functioning properly, such as a blown fuse. The best way to determine the root cause is to call an HVAC specialist.

Like the unit’s coils, the ducts of your HVAC system should be regularly inspected and cleaned. Dander, hair, dust particles, and other pollutants can clog the air ducts, making them operate less efficiently. If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned in some time, a professional duct cleaning could be required.

If you haven’t done so already, you’ll also want to make sure you change your indoor air filters. Your HVAC filter should be replaced once a month. If a filter is dirty, it will compromise your HVAC unit’s energy efficiency and cost you a significant amount of money in the long run. Replacement air filters can be picked up at your local air conditioner store. You should also check the supply vents and return grilles. Use a vacuum or brush to clear the vents and grilles of any debris.

It’s important to have your HVAC unit inspected on a semi-annual basis. If you notice a problem or haven’t had your HVAC unit serviced in a while, contact one of our expert HVAC technicians. We’re offering seasonal specials on cooling service appointments. With years of experience in the industry, we’ll make sure you keep cool this summer. We’ll even help you save money by maximizing your HVAC unit’s energy efficiency. What could be cooler than that?