Advice On Air Conditioning Maintenance

There is no better time than the winter to have your air conditioning system serviced in good time for the summer months. Very often small problems spotted at the time of service stop them from becoming major and expensive problems later on. Here are some questions we are frequently asked:

Q. Is there a suggested period for re-gassing my air conditioning system?

A. Using your air conditioning system does not use up the refrigerant gas inside it. In fact, if conditions were ideal it would never need re-gassing. During servicing and maintenance, the level of gas is checked and a low level means that in all likelihood there is a minute leak in the air con system. Most recently manufactured air conditioning units have connections which are welded to minimize leaks but older units used to have mechanically connected fittings which, over the years, can vibrate loose and cause a leak and the air conditioning system will fail.

The effects of a gas leak are as follows: -
  • The efficiency of the air conditioner is reduced considerably.
  • The refrigerant cools the compressor and over a period of time a low level of gas can cause the compressor to overheat and breakdown. This would require a complete replacement of the compressor and sometimes the condensing unit as well. These are both very expensive repairs.
  • Low gas levels can also cause the evaporator coil to freeze up. When the air conditioning unit defrosts, it will normally restart and then freeze again.
  • The refrigerant gas is a "controlled substance" in respect of environmental hazard. It therefore, must not be released into the atmosphere which is a process obviously happening if your system is leaking.

Q. Should I take my installer's advice and arrange regular check ups for my air conditioning systems?

A. We do recommend at least annual air conditioning system checkups and these should be done in the Spring. By undertaking this programme of maintenance, you would minimise the risk of expensive repairs later on. Also, the main advantage is that your system should function efficiently during the Summer months.

Q. What actions are carried out to the air conditioning system during the service?

  • Filters are checked and cleaned.
  • The evaporator and condenser coils are cleaned.
  • All motors are oiled where required.
  • Check condenser.
  • Check thermostat is working accurately.
  • Check all electrical fittings and test controls.
  • Check for correct for refrigerant levels. If found to be low check and repair any leaks before adding further gas.

Q. What can I do to maintain my air conditioning unit?

A. Ensure that the condensing unit which is located outside of your premises is not covered up or blocked in any way. The efficient operation of your system depends on the condenser unit drawing air into the system so that it can be cooled and expelled inside. If the condenser is blocked in any way then it will not be able to pull through enough air from outside. An air conditioning unit needs to breath the same as humans do.

If you have covered the external unit during the winter months to protect it from the elements then of course you must uncover it and make sure access to it is clear.

There follows some useful advice: -
  • Check the filters to make sure they are not blocked. Clean them by using a vacuum cleaner to suck out the dust and wash them under warm soapy water. Some filters are disposable and these should be replaced.
  • Change the filters and run the system to test it in the Spring so that if there are any faults or problems they can be dealt with in good time for the Summer months.
  • Check that you have set the thermostat to "cooling mode". It's amazing how many people forget to do this.
  • A thoroughly cleaned air conditioner will operate at maximum efficiency. Do not however, use a hose and water to try to clean it because there is a very serious risk of electrical shock and possible shorting of electrical components when they come into contact with water.
  • We would always recommend that you employ a fully qualified company of air conditioning contractors to service and maintain your prized system.