15 Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

26August 2021

hey guys Jay here with word of advice TV where your time is invested and not wasted today’s video is all gonna be about AC maintenance or air conditioner maintenance that a homeowner could do themselves so I sat down and started making a list of things a homeowner can check or do for maintenance on his air conditioner and it turns out that there’s actually a lot of things a person can do for AC maintenance I came up with 15 things so without further delay let’s just dig right in number one maintenance step number one is if you cover your air conditioner unit for the winter either you put a piece of plywood on top of it or you have that wrap where you wrap it all up make sure you take that off before the AC season starts there’s always a couple of calls I get a year where I come out and the whole thing is wrapped up and of course the air conditioner is not working right so make sure you take it off and also some frequently asked questions are you know should we even wrap it at all really it’s up to you this thing is meant to be outdoors it’s in the rain all the time so some snow is not gonna hurt it cosmetically it might help it a little bit maybe it’s not gonna rust as fast but operationally really it has no effect on it at all personally I don’t cover my unit for the winter but keep in mind that if you have icicles that form on top of your air conditioner then you really should put some kind of a cover over your air conditioner at least a piece of plywood because I have seen air conditioners or a big icicle fell down and just knocked the whole center of the air conditioner right out that’s where the motor is so the motor was laying on top of the compressor when I found it and just one downside of wrapping the whole thing when you wrap it like that it makes it a really good home for mice and other critters for insects to make a cozy little home inside that wrap between the air conditioner you know it shields them from all the snow and the wind so when you wrap it like that you are inviting critters to come in that’s just another reason why I don’t wrap mine but it’s up to you if you want to do that or not also if you turn off your air conditioner circuit breaker for the winter make sure you turn that back on as well and maintenance tip number two is cleaning your AC condenser coil that’s the coil that’s all around mine has a grate over it but if you look inside you can see all the fins and there’s copper tubing all inside of there just kind of looping back and forth this condenser unit sucks air in from the sides and then rejects it out through the top and to put it in simple terms what it’s doing is absorbing the heat from your house and then through the refrigerant or the freon brings it outside and when the air from outside is blowing through those coils that air absorbs that heat that is taken out of your house and then it rejects that out from the top but because it’s sucking air in through the sides eventually these coils will get plugged up with dust debris leaves whatever else is flying around you know when you’re mowing your lawn and this thing turns on it sucks in grass basically any airborne particles so at the beginning of the summer season just look over your coil and throughout the summer season as well if you live in an area like me my condenser unit is on the side of the house and right over there we have a big forest lots of cottonwood trees so my unit gets plugged up really fast I have to wash it down a couple times a year so look over your unit if it’s dirty then hose it down some people say to brush it with a brush that doesn’t work very well I mean you can get some of the stuff off but if you have a great like mine your brush isn’t gonna do you much good and I also get asked about chemical cleaner to clean the coil some foam cleaner I personally don’t really like using that because some of that stuff has some really corrosive chemicals in it and it can corrode the coil on your condenser unit especially if your fins are made out of aluminum so I avoid that but really all it takes is just some water to clean out your condenser coil the best preferred method is to take the top off of your unit and spray from inside out I usually spray it just from the outside in and that tends to be sufficient it’s very clean you can see all the gaps through it so most of the time it’s sufficient to just spray with the water from outside in and I’ll show you how to do it because I know that my unit is pretty dirty from the end of the last season [Music] so cleaning your coil or washing it down is very simple all you eat is a hose you don’t even need a nozzle if you have a nozzle great just make sure the pressure is not really high and by all means do not use a power washer or a pressure washer because those fins are pretty flexible and if you use a lot of pressure they will all Bend but just regular water pressure is good I’ll just cover it up with my thumb and just spray down my coil if you want to go an extra mile you can also vacuum it out or blow it out first before you start washing I’ll just wash it for now see how dirty my coil is there’s a bunch of dust on it right there there’s Cottonwood up on top and it gets a lot worse than this during the year so I’ll just be washing this down I’ll show you this side I’m not kind of fast forward all the other sides just so you know the side towards the house will always be the dirtiest so let the washing begin [Music] so that’s how the coil looks after it got washed down as you can see it missed a couple of spots it doesn’t have to be spot free as long as the coil can breathe you got most of it off this is the fuzzy style a lot of you will have the radiator style where you have the fins those clean off a lot easier than these train style right here but as you can see it looks a lot better than it was and keep in mind that you want to have the power off when you do this remember how I pulled the disconnect your circuit breakers off and if you want you can turn the thermostat off as well when you’re washing down your unit you don’t want it to turn on while you’re washing it and another thing that I get asked a lot is the leaves on the bottom of the condenser unit is that something bad should we clean that out does that affect the unit and the answer is no if you have this much leaves on the bottom of your unit that’s no big deal if it’s just a couple of leaves you can just leave them alone of course if you have a stack of leaves on the bottom there that is that big then you may want to take off the top of your condenser unit and get most of those leaves out of there and maintenance tip number three is to check if you actually have a mouse nest that was built during the winter and to check your wires for any broken wires bare wires or any broken connectors on those wired the wire connectors so to do that first you have to locate your disconnect this is your electrical disconnect usually it’ll look like that either a metal box or a plastic box if you open it up most of them will have the pull pull style plugs some of them will actually be a breaker there’s different styles but most of them are gonna be applied like this that you just yank out when you yank this out that disconnects the power going to your condenser unit the 240 volts but just to be safe I would also turn off the circuit breaker for your air conditioner and if you have a meter or a voltage pen double-check and make sure you have no voltage going to the unit before you start touching anything inside of the unit because electricity of course is dangerous and can kill you if you’re careless around it so I disconnected my power and I have verified beforehand that I don’t have any power going to it and this is what you call an electrical whip if you follow the whip it goes into the condenser unit where your electrical section is from the unit where all your electrical components are so as you can see mine goes right into here which means all my electrical stuff is either gonna be right here or right here in my case it’s right over here behind this panel so I’ll take this door off and here we have all the electrical components from the unit this relay right here is called a contactor this is a run capacitor a dual run capacitor this is a start capacitor with a relay sometimes it’s a hard start kit where both of these are in one and just so you know not all air conditioner units will have the start capacitor and some air conditioners will have other components as well like a fan delay board or a little control board or some other relays that are installed in this section but basically after you open this up just look at all the connectors where all the wires go make sure nothing is brittle and falling apart once in a while come to unit I’ll grab a wire and just wiggle it a little bit and it just falls apart completely like the connector just kind of crumbles as I just yank on it a little bit not a lot of pressure so just kind of tugging all the wires take a look at them examine them if you do notice some broken connectors or maybe they’re burnt or corroded what you can do if you’re comfortable doing that is just snip that piece off strip the end of the wire and put a new connector on there and if mice were to build a mouse nest usually it would be in this section right here so this would be full of leaves and whatever other nesting material they’ll bring in here and a lot of times there’ll be a few dead mice already in here my personal record is I opened up a unit it was completely full of nesting I found six baby mice all of them are live and two big mice which were also alive of course when I took the panel off they all just kind of scattered also along with the electrical whip if you look here usually it’ll be right by the whip going in from the 240 volts you’ll also have 24 volts coming in from the house which will typically be a brown wire like this which has two more wires inside of it a white and a red if you can see right here I don’t know how visible that is in the camera see how that wire has a bear piece right there I should actually snip this wire right here strip it down and then rewire not these wires so I don’t have that bare spot because of this bare spot right here touches anything metal it’ll short out and blow a fuse on my control board in the furnace so this is the kind of stuff you’re looking for when you’re looking at these wires for bare wires or broken connectors and a lot of times when there’s something wrong with this wire it’ll be on the outside actually so as it runs along the whip most of the time it’ll be zip tied or somehow taped to the electrical whip right here it just kind of runs along the side of it goes in here and goes into the house sometimes a dog will chew it I’ve had customers with weed whackers accidentally chop them off and of course weather conditions eventually the insulation will get a little bit brittle and start to fall apart so as you’re looking at all the wiring make sure you take a look at that thermostat wiring going from the house to the condenser unit as well and maintenance tip number four is to check your dual run capacitor which is usually gonna be a silver cylinder like this it’ll have a rating on it I’m not gonna take mine out but I believe mine was a 40 by 5 micro farad capacitor the most common AC problem I have a video called top 10 AC problems this is the reigning champion he won first place by a landslide so the most common air-conditioning problem is a bad capacitor or a weak capacitor so if you have a multimeter check your capacitor at the beginning of the year because they are not eternal parts they are pretty cheap components and they do fail often I don’t really want to get into the capacitor how to read the labels and how to replace it and stuff but I do have a whole separate video called AC not turning on the most common fix in that video I talk all about the capacitor and I show you how to replace it there so if you’re interested you could check that video out and these capacitors have a tendency to fail on the hottest days of the year so whoever had this problem before in the comments section of that video a lot of times they’ll write I already ordered two of these capacitors that are just in my garage now just in case as a backup and that’s actually a pretty good idea I will include that in my maintenance tip as well since this is the most common AC problem it’s nice to have a backup capacitor ready just in case yours fails when it’s the hottest point of the year and if you need some help looking for those capatch I’ll add some Amazon links in my description below that you can use as a reference to find the capacitor that you need and maintenance tip number five is the suction line insulation the suction line is going to be the thicker line you have to refrigeration or freon lines one is going to be a thin one that’s the discharge line and then the thick one is the suction line so this suction line will always have insulation or I should say it should have insulation over it and with time this insulation will start to fall apart see like I have this bare spot right here or if you have pets some of them love to chew on this stuff and it all kind of gradually disappears the insulation is there so that the refrigerant or the freon does not turn into a liquid too fast and I know I might be getting a little bit technical but basically long story short to extend the life of your compressor on your AC unit they put those insulation on this thick line so if your insulation is completely gone I would get another piece of this foam insulation and put it over this thick pipe right here and maintenance tip number six is to make sure that your AC condenser unit is leveled and if it’s just slanted a little bit that’s no big deal but I see some air conditioners that are really saying to one side and actually it’s pretty easy to level them do keep in mind that you have some copper pipes coming out of your air conditioner unit so don’t move your unit too much because if for some reason you break a joint or a kink align then you’ll have a freon leak and that opens a whole new can of worms but you can move this thing a little bit if your unit is really saggy or slanted to one side let’s say that your pad that it’s on is kind of sunken you can actually get a shovel and kind of lift it up and then go ahead and throw some rocks underneath there or even like a 2×4 or some dirt to kind of help level it out so if let’s say that side is sunken you can get a shovel dig this part out a little bit stick it in there then crank it up a little bit and throw some stuff underneath this pad to help lift up that side of the unit so it’s relatively level and maintenance tip number seven is pretty simple and all it is is don’t wait for it to be 90 degrees outside before you turn on your air conditioner so turn on your air conditioner early when it’s like sixty sixty-five degrees outside just to check and see if it actually turns on and runs everything’s cooling good and the reason for that is pretty simple if there is something wrong and it’s not working then you actually have some cushion time to get the thing fixed whereas if you turn it on when it’s 90 degrees outside and it’s not working then you’re kind of in a panic you’re in a rush and you’re probably gonna end up paying a lot more than you could have if it’s sixty degrees outside you can find some good deal online order depart you have the time to wait for it to come and to kind of take your time to troubleshoot diagnose figure out what’s going on and get it fixed before those hot days hit and maintenance number tip number eight is that over the winter sometimes as the units after the whole winter the fan will kind of seize up just a little bit and a lot of times there will be nothing wrong with the fan um so the first time you know when it turns on the compressor will turn on but the fan either it’ll spin really slowly barely moving at all or it will just sit there and home and do nothing a lot of times just putting a stick in here we’re taking a screwdriver and just helping that little fan out give it a kickstart is all that is needed to get that fan going and after that initial time the fan will start with no problems if that keeps happening to you though then you do have a problem either the capacitors weak or dead or there’s something wrong with the motor okay so we’re done with the first half of the AC maintenance tips and the second half will be all indoors the air conditioner is also called an AC split system and the reason it’s called a split system is because there’s two units one is outside that’s the condenser coil we were just looking at and the other one is inside it’s called the evaporator coil or to a coil and that usually sits on top of the furnace on an up full furnace it’ll be up above it depending on how your furnace is installed if you have a down flow or a horizontal furnace the coil might be on the bottom of the furnace or one of the sides commonly it will be on top of the furnace now if you’re not sure where your coil is just find those same refrigeration lines or the freon lines that you saw outside now the thick insulated one and then the thin skinny one and see where they go so if i trace mine from outside as you can see they go into this plenum right here that’s what they call this sheet metal box that sits on top of the fair and goes in there and the coil the reason it’s called an a coil sometimes is because it oftentimes looks like the letter a looks like a radiator and that just sits on top of the furnace and whenever it collects humidity water kind of drains down that coil it has a drain pan on the bottom of it and the water comes out right through here yours might be a PVC or a hose like mine and just runs to your floor drain your sump pump or whatever you got going or maybe even a drain pump so basically the way that your conditioner works is it’s pumping that freon from outside to inside in a constant loop it’s just going back and forth back and forth so maintenance tip number nine is to check temperatures on your air conditioner to make sure it’s working correctly so if you turn on your AC it turns on everything’s on seems to be working and you just want to make sure is it cooling like it should or not one really easy way to check that is to just use a poking thermometer I have a UVI poking thermometer for HVAC but you can use anything like a steak thermometer or some kind of a poke thermometer that you might have an easy way to check the temperatures will be in these canvases most furnaces in the ductwork you’ll have those black canvas on top of your furnace basically this is my supply and one in the return duct right here this black piece right here to canvas and you can just poke your poke and thermometer right in there to measure the temperatures take a temperature rating here and then take a temperature reading in the supply while the unit is running after you let it run for 5-10 minutes and what you’re looking for there is a fifteen to twenty degree temperature difference between your return air temperature and the supply air temperature I live in Minnesota and it’s actually 45 degrees outside right now so I’m not going to turn on my air conditioner but if you actually want to see how this is done in person I actually do have a video of where I check the temperatures if you want you can look that up later another way you can do this is to just find a register somewhere on your main floor or your vent stick your thermometer in there see what the temperature is coming out the vent after the AC has been running for like 10 minutes record that temperature and then take a temperature of the ambient air or basically the room temperature you know in your living room or whatnot and the difference between the air out of the vent and the air temperature in your room should be that 15 to 20 degrees now if you have less than 15 let’s say yours is like 6 to 10 that means you are having a problem the most common problems are either to a coil that radiator looking thing sometimes with time if you’re not very good at replacing filters or if you have a fiberglass filter that a coil will get plugged up with dust and whatever other debris gets by and that restricts the airflow and that restriction and airflow will also affect operation of the air conditioner it won’t cool as well sometimes that coil can actually start to freeze over as well and another common problem is that you have a refrigerant leak or a freon leak and when you’re low on refrigerant that coil will have the same effect it can start to freeze or it just simply will not have enough of the coolant to cool down the air in your house and maintenance tip number 10 is that condensate drain line or the condensate drain fitting this is another pretty common problem so as preventive maintenance what you could do is see this holes like I have right here if you have a similar hose or if you have PVC that makes a little bit harder but what you could do is either blow this hose out with compressed air or pour some bleach and water solution down this hose just to clear it out of any gunk that builds up in there because these things do get plugged up these hoses and if the water has nowhere to go it’ll start to overflow and go over all over your furnace and you’re gonna see a puddle underneath of your furnace and that can damage the control board and other furnace components inside so clean out the hose make sure to hold this clear another thing you can do is take off the hose and then unscrew this fitting and sometimes the fitting itself inside of here gets plugged up so as preventive maintenance you can clear the hose and take this fitting off or if you don’t want to take it out you can just either blow backwards through it or stick a wire into it and once again I’m not gonna do this right now but I do have a video on this as well if you want to see me actually do that myself I have a video of where I take this apart and clean it up so you can see that I’ve been mentioning common a/c problems quite a bit and other videos that I have just so you know two of my really good videos that I have are top 10 AC problems and top 10 furnace problems in those two videos I have a lot of good information so if you want like a crash course and all the different problems that your AC or furnace can have those videos are great to watch so moving on maintenance tip number 11 is the furnace filter even though that sounds like common sense it actually is one of the most neglected things I think that was a furnace problem number two out of the most common furnace problems and for AC that’s a pretty frequent problem as well if this filter gets really dirty it’ll have the same effect as the coil being dirty so that’ll affect refrigerant pressures or the freon pressures and your coil can start to freeze up or basically it’s not gonna keep up with the hot air or it’s not gonna cool your house enough these one-inch filters should be replaced monthly as you can see mine looks pretty clean but sometimes looks can be deceiving just because it looks clean doesn’t mean it is clean I have a video where I check a bunch of filters and kind of prove that point but this should be replaced about every month and some people think that you know I use my furnace a lot more than I use my air conditioner therefore I don’t really need to replace my filter as much just so you know the air conditioning fan speed that blower motor is the highest speed so it runs on a higher speed than your furnace does meaning it pulls more air through that whole system and that filter will plug up a little bit faster that’s just a quick side note these filters are directional you may have noticed that they have an arrow on them that says air flow this way the arrow is always supposed to be facing the blower motor or towards the furnace a lot of times for customers I’ll actually draw an arrow pointing towards the furnace as a reminder as you can see one side has a chicken wire net the other one does not so this is more as a preventative type of thing if somebody doesn’t replace their filter for a long time this net will prevent the filter from getting sucked in I have seen filters get sucked in and wrapped around the motor not a pretty sight and to take a long time to get off the motor so replace your 1-inch filters every month or at least check them monthly you know maybe every every two months if your house is clean you don’t have a lot of dirt no pets or anything and people ask me about 4-inch filters or the 5 inch filters those big thick ones some of them say that they last up to a year it’s usually not the case typically they will not last a year if you leave them in there for a whole year your furnace is going to be overheating and your air conditioner is going to be freezing over unless you have like a spot clean house with no dust or anything in it so those one-year filters they do not last one year I would replace them at least half a year or every eight months and maintenance tip number 12 will require you to take off the furnace doors so figure out why your doors come off on my unit it’s an American Standard or a train I just slide up and pull out on some of these Trane furnaces you have to take the bottom door off first and then the top maybe you’ll have screws that hold the doors or some knobs take those doors off and maintenance tip number 12 is the blower motor or more specifically at the blower wheel the fins on that blower wheel they eventually with time get plugged up with dust and other debris so an easy way to check if your blower wheel is dirty or not so here’s your blower wheel you got this big metal housing after you take your bottom door off make sure the power is off to your furnace there’s a power switch right here on most furnaces it’ll be on the side of the furnace or you can just go ahead and turn off your circuit breaker around the furnace and then just reach in on one side of this blower motor housing reach in and just kind of feel with your fingers in between those fins if you feel a lot of dust in there that means you may need to clean up that blower wheel because that really restricts the air flow if you have a lot of dust and other stuff gunk in there that really messes with the airflow and I do have a video of where I replaced my blower motor and in that same video I took that blower wheel out and I cleaned it up and mine was really filthy so if you want an example of a really dirty blower wheel that one was mine and in that video you see a bunch of gunk coming out so if you want to see that go ahead and wilderun the topic of the blower wheel that blower wheel most of them unless you have a variable-speed one most of them will have a capacitor just like the capacitor that you saw on the air-conditioner outside it can be in different locations usually it’ll be mounted towards the front you know either on the bottom right here or on the side sometimes if you’re not lucky it’ll be way in the back there but it has two Brown wires going to it this is just a single capacitor meaning is just for the fan where is the one outside is for the fan of the compressor that’s why it’s called a dual capacitor but this capacitor is the same as outside if it’s really weak or dead that blower motor will not turn on so if you have a meter as preventive maintenance you can check your capacitor and make sure that’s rated good as well and make sure the readings are within spec and these capacitors aren’t too expensive so it would be a good idea as preventive maintenance to just have one of these as backup along with the dual capacitor so if they do ever go out on you on a really hot day or a really cold day you can just swap them out with that extra that you have and be good to go so that’s all you have to check in the blower motor and I do get asked do we do to oil that blower motor and the answer is no unless you have a really old furnace you do not need to oil that motor it comes permanently lubricated so there’s no oil ports where you can oil it and just a fair warning some of these doors come off a lot easier than they come back on and once in a while I’ll get a order to go to somebody’s house just to put the furnace doors back on because somebody took them off and they’re not able to put them back on so when you’re taking your doors off do pay attention how they come off so you can put them back together in a similar fashion and maintenance tip number 13 is to turn off your humidifier if your furnace has one so as you can see I have a whole house humidifier it right here month until I return duct here’s my control the control part is easy you just turn it to off because you don’t want your humidifier running during this summer you have enough humidity as is that’s what your air conditioner is trying to do is start off pull out the humidity and then all humidifiers will also have a damper sometimes the damper will be right next to the humidifier other times it’ll be on to this duct further down and mine’s even labeled see how it’s a summer right there and winter right there basically I just want to set it to a summer position and all this is is a damper so it opens and closes so in the summer I want to close this off so I don’t have any air going through here maintenance tip number 14 involves your vents or your registers and your returns as for the vents you don’t want to have too many of them closed some people closed off like half of the house that’s too many when you closed off that many registers or vents that starts to impede the air flow and it can cause various problems with the AC the refrigeration system and then the furnace that can cause your furnace to overheat so you don’t want too many of them closed the rule of thumb even though there really isn’t a rule of thumb is that you don’t want to close off more than one-third of all your events so for example if you have twenty-one registers and the whole house you don’t want to turn off more than seven of them just so you know the difference between returned grills and the supply vents the supplies they will always have a shutoff they should have a shutoff any way that you can turn it off or close the event returns they usually will not have a shutoff you cannot turn them off or close them as preventative maintenance if your return grill is getting all hairy with dust you can vacuum it you can even take it off in just vacuum the back side of that grill Thank You Minh side that duct and also I have seen people put furniture in front of it like a piano or like a box or a couch you don’t want to have anything in front of those returns because they are sucking air in if your unit does not have enough return air that will also cause air flow problems which in turn will lead to more system problems with the AC or the furnace so keep all the returns open do not put anything in front of them I have seen people tape them up thinking that their a vent there blowing air out an easy way to tell is to just take a piece of paper or like a leaf or a string and see if the air is pulling it in or blowing it out and just figure it out that way and maintenance tip number fifteen involves the thermostat many thermostats will have batteries in them and a lot of people aren’t aware that their thermostat has batteries so if you take your thermostat off the wall a lot of times the thermostat will come off by pulling from the bottom first different thermostats come off differently sometimes there it’ll be two screws other times you have to take one side off and then two other but anyways once you take the thermostat off if your thermostat goes blank like mine that means it does not have batteries it gets power from the furnace so if there’s no power to the furnace the thermostat will be blank as well but if your thermostat stays on after you pull it off the wall that means it does have batteries a lot of times are just gonna be somewhere in the back sometimes they’ll be under a cover you know like on this side or up here sometimes you just swivel them out batteries are in there either a triple-a or double-a are the most frequent ones but if the batteries and the thermostat become weak or dead sometimes weak batteries does not mean that your thermostat will die or the little battery icon will show up if it’s weak it might be just weak enough where it won’t close the switch and your air conditioner won’t turn off so if you haven’t replaced their thermostat batteries in awhile you should replace them every night on all three or four years at least to prevent any kind of problems that might arise down the road also if you replace their thermostat during the winter make sure that your thermostat has a jumper in between R and R see if you have our NRC sometimes you have only the art terminal and not the RC it’s kind of hard to see behind the wire but if you see right there that little silver jumper that connects my art to RC that should be in there RC is power to cooling so if you don’t have a jumper going from R to R see your air conditioner will not get powered on well guys and those are the 15 AC maintenance tips that I had for you I hope you found them useful if you have any other maintenance tips that you know of that I did not mention in this video let us know in the comments below to help out everybody else as well thank you so much for watching this video don’t forget to mash that like button on the way out and we’ll see you next time still here so a friend of mine says hey bro how many people work at your company and I tell him let me think about half of them [Applause] you [Music]

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