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A Little Boston Air Conditioner Maintenance Goes A Long Way!

With the snow having finally melted in Boston, and the temperatures are rising once again, Spring is definitely here. After such a hard winter in Boston, air conditioner maintenance might not be the first thing on homeowners’ minds. Soon enough however, temperatures will rise into the 70’s and 80’s and A/C will be the order of the day.

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating is ready to help you inspect, repair and maintain your home’s air conditioning system. After a hard winter like the one we’ve had, a little spring cleaning may be in order. Outdoor air conditioning units accumulate lots of debris, especially from falling leaves, seeds, and petals from flowering trees. Spring cleaning will pay off handsomely, and will help your outdoor unit remain trouble-free. Getting rid of the debris is Job #2. Job #1 is always safety. In this case, that means cutting the power to the A/C unit.

The outdoor portion of your home’s air conditioning system includes the compressor and an electric motor, which make a lot of noise and heat. Compressors and motors are usually self-contained and don’t require much maintenance. You will need to remove the cover on the unit to inspect and clean the condenser coil. Removing the cover usually involves basic hand tools and isn’t hard to do. Carefully remove the cover and do not touch the condenser “fins” with your hands. Fins are made of soft, wavy metal. Bending the fins will reduce the unit’s efficiency.

Take a look at the uncovered unit. Check for oil leaks or accumulation around fittings and near hoses. These are all signs of leaking. If you notice that a compressor is leaking oil, however, that’s a good sign that a repair is in your future. Don’t try to tighten fittings that appear to be leaking. Instead, give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating, at (617) 288-2911 and let us take a look.

Some electric motors require lubrication at the beginning of the season. If your motor has an oil port, consult the owner’s manual to see how much oil should be added. You can find oil for an electric motor at a hardware or home improvement store. Usually, you’ll need to add just a few drops. Note that some motors are sealed and don’t require additional lubrication.

Included in the box with the compressor is the condenser coil, which has a fan. The fan’s job is to pull outside air through the condenser coil. Along with air, however, the fan also pulls a lot of debris into the condenser coil and reduces the unit’s efficiency. Sweep out or remove by hand any debris that you can reach easily. Using a garden hose, gently wash the fins to remove any remaining debris. Allow the unit to dry.

Inside your home, you’ll need to clean the evaporator unit, which will be located somewhere near the furnace. The evaporator also has fins, so work gently around your evaporator. Use a very soft brush to clean the fins or gently vacuum the unit to remove any accumulated dust, dirt and debris. If the evaporator doesn’t look approachable, looks like it’s been leaking, you can’t locate it, or you know where it is but can’t reach it, contact Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.

Finally, make sure all drain hoses or drain lines are free of debris and accumulation. If you discover biological growth in your drain lines, you can use BioClean, a natural, enzymatic drain cleaner to clear your drain lines. Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating stocks BioClean, and it’s safe and easy to use.

Once the outside unit has dried, reattach the cover and fasten it in place. (Don’t store anything on top of or around the unit, either!) Re-apply the power and test your system. If you run into problems, Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating offers standard and emergency repair services and we’re on call 24-hours a day! Contact us today at (617) 288-2911 for more information or to schedule an inspection. Find out for yourself why Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating was named the Best of Boston 2010!