In the hot Augusta summers when the temperature is in the mid 90’s the last thing you need is for your air conditioning to break down. It is bad enough if you are at home relaxing on the weekend, but if you are trying to work in an office without any form of cooling, productivity of the workforce will dive in direct proportion to the increase in temperature. If you own a business such as a restaurant or retail premises your takings will drop as customers leave to find cooler places to shop. You need a reputable Augusta air conditioner repair company as soon as possible.
Of course, as with many things, prevention is better than cure. Most air conditioning repair companies offer a service contract whereby they will check out your complete system before the season starts, replacing any parts that are worn and likely to fail during the summer and giving the whole system a complete service. If your air conditioning unit doesn’t get a service it is likely that it is not working at peak efficiency. A dirty filter, a years worth of dirt on the cooling fins and a low level of coolant make the unit work harder and will cost more in terms of energy used.
Most companies offering an annual maintenance contract will also put customers who take advantage of it on their “preferred customer” list, like this company. It means that if anything should go wrong and the system break down they will attend to those customers in preference to others who simply call after their air conditioning has broken down.
Things May Still Go Wrong
With the best will in the world, things do sometimes go wrong - even when regular maintenance has been performed – and at times like this you need help fast. Most, but not all, air conditioning repair companies offer a twenty four hours a day, seven days a week service, so even if your breakdown occurs at 1.00 am on Sunday morning you know you can get it fixed quickly – provided the company has the necessary spare parts.
This is another good reason for having an annual maintenance contract; not only do you get to know the technicians the company employs, but you will also know that the company carries a stock of spares for your particular make of air conditioning. It means that the engineer will be able to fix the problem on the spot, rather than have to wait until tomorrow and then make a trip across town to a wholesaler to get the part you need.
The majority of air conditioning units are what is known as “split system” units which have a condenser outside the building and an evaporator inside. The condenser contains a compressor, a fan, and cooling fins. The fan sucks air in across the fins and cools the coolant which is then pumped into the building to the evaporator by the compressor. The coolant then chills and cools the fins and tubes in the evaporator. Warm air from the building is passed across the evaporator fins by the blower and blown through ducts to the rooms inside.
What Can Go Wrong?
- The motor can burn out. If this should happen, the fan won’t operate.
- A broken capacitor. This is a piece of electrical equipment that boosts the power of the fan on start up. If it breaks, the fan will not start.
- Air flow trouble. If the ducts are blocked by dirt and dust, the air filter is blocked and dirty, or a fan blade might be bent, the air will not cool sufficiently.
- Leak of refrigerant. If the refrigerant should leak there may be insufficient left to cool the air.
A lot of these problems can be prevented by regular maintenance. Ensuring that the filter is changed regularly is just one example of preventive maintenance. The motor should be properly lubricated. The condensate drain needs to be clean and not blocked. Dirty ducts can cause considerable problems.
The ducts may also have holes in them which can cause as much as 80% of the cooled air to be lost before it reaches the rooms. Obviously this can cause a lot of expense in energy terms as the air conditioning unit works overtime to try and compensate. The answer is to have the ducts regularly cleaned, and if they have holes, have them sealed.
A broken capacitor must be replaced, as must a broken motor. If the coolant/refrigerant level is low it must be topped up and any leak sealed. This can really only be done by a professional technician.
Some of the routine maintenance you can do yourself if you don’t want to call in the professionals. Outside, you need to switch off the supply of electricity to the condenser. Clean the fins with a vacuum cleaner (you may need to remove a metal box to get at them). The fins are delicate and can get bent easily, so be careful. If several are bent, you can buy a set of fin combs from a hardware store. If a lot of them are bent it is best to have them straightened by an engineer.
Next you need to unscrew the fan and vacuum the inside of the condenser. You can’t completely remove it because it is wired to the unit so you might have to have someone hold it for you while you clean. You may also find the odd mouse has decided to make it its winter home!
The motor may need lubrication with a special electric motor oil from the hardware store. (Don’t use penetrating oil, or you could damage the bearings). Many modern units have sealed bearings so won’t need oiling. In many cases you can just restore power to the unit, but some compressors need special start up procedures.
- If you switched off the power while the compressor was running, wait at least five minutes before switching it back on.
- Otherwise, turn your inside thermostat to “off”. Turn the power back on and leave the unit for 24 hours. Then put the thermostat back to “on”.
Inside the house you will find that you can’t usually get to the evaporator, but if you can, vacuum the fins. (Turn off the power to the blower or furnace first). Also, power off the blower when you change the filter, or you will blow dust on to the fins directly. You may also need to oil the blower through the oil ports if it has them.
The fins on the evaporator dehumidify the air, so the resulting condensation runs down through a pipe to a drain pan. Mostly, the tubes are plastic and easy to pull off and clean. As with many things, it pays to read the instructions. Always check your owners manual in any case of doubt.