Winter is coming to an end, and that means lower heating bills, but it also means that homeowners should be thinking about air conditioning in Boston homes. Maintenance is key to keeping your Boston air conditioning working as efficiently as possible throughout the summer cooling season.

Air conditioners require maintenance each season, even though it may not seem like it. An air conditioner can lose about 5% of its efficiency each season without routine maintenance. That drop in efficiency means a rise in your electric bill, and who needs that?

Studies show that with regular, effective maintenance, an air conditioning unit can retain about 95% of its original rated efficiency level. That’s a great bargain for a little extra time and effort at the beginning of each cooling season. Cleaning the unit is part of the equation, but there’s more involved in maintenance than that.

Effective maintenance includes cleaning up the condenser to remove debris and organic matter that may have accumulated in or near the housing. The fan motor(s) should be checked for proper operation and lubrication. If needed, the motors should be oiled.

The compressor should be checked for leaks and the amount of electricity it uses while operating should be measured. If a compressor is drawing too much electricity, it may be a sign that the compressor needs additional work, or should be replaced.

In belt-driven units, the belts should be checked for wear. Any belts that are frayed, cracked or have a shiny or polished appearance should be replaced. The belts should also be checked for proper tension.
The coolant level should be measured every year. Low coolant levels can increase your operating costs significantly and impact the efficiency of the unit in a major way.

The coolant in an air conditioner is sealed, so in theory, any reduction in coolant levels indicates a leak in the system. Coolant leaks may indicate a need for a more involved repair. Replacing or adding coolant can be tricky. The task requires special tools and training, so that is best done by a trained air conditioning repair technician. In addition, there are many different coolants on the market now, and not all coolants are interchangeable. This is another good reason to have a trained professional handle the refrigerant.

Finally, your maintenance routine should include replacing the filters on the unit with filters made for (or by) the manufacturer of your unit. Don’t cut corners here. Good filtration is key to keeping your air conditioner working near peak efficiency.

If you have questions about your air conditioner or want to schedule summer maintenance ahead of the season, call Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 362-0377 to schedule an appointment.

DIY Air Conditioning, DIY Blog

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