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Being cool!

Submitted by SterlingBrown on Wed, 05/08/2019 - 07:17

In Fargo Morehead and the lakes region including Alexandria, Wadena, Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls it is still hard to believe that will be using our air conditioning units very soon to provide indoor comfort we desire. But the National Weather Service does assure us that there will be a warm day before fall, maybe, or at least it’s not impossible.

It does mean that it’s time for us to take another look before we do need the air conditioning to see that it’s ready to provide the cool that is cool. As home inspectors we frequently find the following issues that can reduce the efficiency of your conditioning and are easily corrected.

Perhaps the simplest and quickest task to prepare our air conditioning is to check the filters to make sure we have good airflow. This is something we should have been doing throughout the winter months because the same filter is almost always used for both heating and air conditioning in homes with forced air systems.

Most homes will be equipped with disposable filters. These are quite inexpensive but require more frequent replacement. A second filter, found less frequently, is reusable. These are designed to be cleaned and reinstalled.

Less frequently found are electronic filters that remove particulate matter from the air using static electricity. These are rather expensive to replace, so proper handling and cleaning are vital. If you do not know the proper procedure, it might be best, and a lot cheaper, to have a heating and cooling specialist perform that task for you.

You’ll probably notice that as your air conditioning extracts heat from the interior of your home, it also extracts moisture forming on the evaporator portion of the AC system. This water needs to go somewhere appropriate.

There will almost always be a drain line leading from the evaporator section of the air conditioning system to a point of disposal. Most frequently, the simple plastic tube will be leading to a nearby floor drain.

It’s not unusual to find the condensation line going to a small condensation pump. This allows the condensation to be boosted up and disposed of at a more distant location if there is no readily accessible disposal point.

It’s vital that this condensation line not be clogged. If it is clogged, it can lead to the evaporator pan overflowing and water flowing down into the internals of your furnace or, in the case of an attic insulation, onto the ceiling below. This can be quite expensive.

The condensation lines can often be cleaned by simply attaching to a faucet and allowing water to go through it under more pressure than gravity would provide. For shorter lengths, it may be just as economical to replace it as it is to clean it.

If your system does use a condensation pump, pour sufficient water in it to activate the pump and confirm proper operation.

Moving to the outside of the house, we will check, and cleanup, some things that might interfere with proper operation. Locate the condenser unit and turn off the service switch, which should be located on the an exterior wall immediately adjacent to the condenser unit.

If you live in a part of the country where freezing regularly occurs, you may want to invest in a full condenser cover. The condenser is designed to perform satisfactorily even in the rain. What it’s not designed to do is have water inside freeze and possibly damage some mechanical portions of the condenser. Always remove the cover prior to starting here conditioning system. Restricting airflow to the condenser system can cause serious and very expensive damage.

Visually inspect your unit for obvious signs of damage being excessively unlevel or having plants or other objects restricting airflow to the condenser. Ideally, there will be at least 18 inches to 2 feet clearance all away around the unit to allow for the necessary airflow for proper operation. Most units will have a slight slope to the pad they set on allowing for drainage.

Clear any debris that might have accumulated over the winter, such as leaves and twigs, and perhaps grass clippings from the fan and visible condenser coils. Wash the condenser unit down with your garden hose using normal pressure. We do not recommend the use of high pressure washers that can actually bend the fins on the condenser coils.

If you see a number of the fins on the condenser coils flattened out or damaged in any way, refer this to your heating and cooling professional. For simple denting, he can comb out the fins to allow proper airflow. If dogs have mistaken your condenser unit for a fire hydrant more extensive service or repairs may be necessary.

It is typical to see some surface rusting on your unit. If caught early, this can usually be cleaned off, and the paint refreshed to help protect the metal from further damage.

The cooling lines running from the condenser to the interior of the house should be insulated. This is most often a foam insulator, which is split on one side to allow installation and in quite often held in place with cable ties. The ultraviolet rays from the sun will deteriorate this insulation over a few years. Replacement is inexpensive and recommended during your next servicing of the heating and cooling system.

One final note, in the case of attic installations you should ask your heating and cooling professional to confirm that there is a drain pan beneath the evaporative unit or air handler in the attic and that there are two condensation drain lines. These will be a primary and a secondary condensation discharge. The secondary discharge, the one which will be used should the primary become clogged, should discharge to an area visible during normal day-to-day activities. If you should see condensation discharge in the secondary, you should immediately call your heating and cooling specialist for service to help avoid the risk of damage to ceilings and insulation.

If you have questions about spring maintenance around your home you can call Mid-America Inspection for a complete home inspection to help you be more informed about your home.

Submitted by SterlingBrown on Wed, 05/08/2019 - 07:17