Air conditioners--they're wonderful things--when they work right. When they don't, everyone in the place is miserable. All AC units have a common enemy. Learning to recognize when your air conditioner is struggling with it is the key to keeping your unit performing at peak efficiency and maintaining your cool.
DIRT. Yes, another one of those four-letter words is the worst enemy of all air conditioning systems. It's everywhere. No matter how clean your home may look to you, there's always a certain amount of dirt and dust in the air that will be sucked in by your unit. Now that you know what the enemy is, let's look at what you do to help your AC function in spite of it. Air conditioners have many different components that may be affected by dirt build-up. Today we're going to focus on just one of those, the evaporator coil.
All air conditioners have an evaporator coil containing a refrigerant that helps carry the hot air outside, leaving the inside air cool and comfortable. Its primary purpose is to absorb the heat from the air inside your home. Sometimes referred to as an "A" coil (because of the shape), the evaporator coil is located inside the indoor unit. It can be difficult to access and clean, so it's always best to have a certified HVAC technician to take care of servicing this component; that way you can rest assured that the job's been done right and everything is properly sealed back up when it's finished.
NEVER run an air conditioner without a filter in place. That filter is your evaporator coil's best friend. It helps trap dirt before it can build up on the coil. How can you tell if your coil may be dirty? Here are a few dead giveaways to check for.
Not cool enough? Warm air coming from your vents? Does the AC seem to just run and run and never quite get to the setting on your thermostat? If your unit's running for long periods, it's definitely time to look into the reason why. A dirty evaporator coil can't work properly if it's coated with a layer of dirt. The dirt will inhibit its ability to absorb heat effectively and your unit will just continue to run. It can cause you to lose as much as 30% of your unit's ability to cool your home. This may make your electric company happy, but it's certainly not doing your wallet any favors.
If enough dirt builds up on the evaporator coil, heat absorption is diminished. This can cause condensation to build up, actually freezing up the coil. A breakdown will occur and you'll be at the mercy of the time schedule of your local AC tech. But why put yourself through all of that?
Air Care Systems by Price, Inc. is happy to help by giving practical advice and tips on how to maintain your unit for a long and healthy life. (Did you notice that part earlier about the filter? We can never say that enough!) The best thing you can do to ensure you get every pennies worth of service out of your AC is to have an annual check-up. We actually recommend having it done in the spring and the fall--just before major months of heating and cooling put a strain on your system.
Still not sure whether or not your coil may be in trouble? Give us a call at (479) 777-2331. We'll be happy to check it out, or just give you a few tips on regular maintenance. Keeping you cool this summer is our number one goal!