Servicing your air conditioner

ON THE JOB: A refrigeration technician will check the gas charge in an air conditioner as part of a regular service. Photo: Shutterstock
ON THE JOB: A refrigeration technician will check the gas charge in an air conditioner as part of a regular service. Photo: Shutterstock

The verdict on whether summer is the best season or the worst may still be out, but one thing most people can agree on is that good air conditioning is essential to get through those hot months.

This is especially critical in our country, where temperatures can soar to uncomfortable heights.

If you don't have air conditioning in your home, the best person to speak to about getting it is your local electrician or refrigeration technician, who will recommend the right system for you and your lifestyle and provide you with a range of quotes.

While it may seem straightforward, there are many options on the market - evaporative, reverse-cycle, ducted, and split systems, to name a few - which can be overwhelming.

For those with existing air conditioning, an electrician can advise you on whether or not the unit needs replacing, upgrading, or a simple service.

James Moss, an electrician and refrigeration technician with more than eight years of experience, said air conditioner servicing was vital.

"It is important to get your air conditioner serviced regularly as it helps with the efficiency, which in turn saves you money, keeps the air that is being conditioned clean, and it may prevent any potential problems that may occur due to lack of servicing, for example gas leaks or electrical faults," he said.

"An air conditioner service includes checking the condition of the fans, coils, drains and cleaning filters.

"It also involves checking: the electrical connections for any vermin or burnt wires; overloads and circuit breakers; the gas charge of the system; the tightness of flares; for signs of oil; and temperature set points, as well as washing the condenser coil."

An expert may also report a lack of cooling, a noisy fan motor, a broken condenser fan, or a burning smell coming from the unit, which could mean you are in for more than just a service.

"These are just some signs that your air conditioner may not be operating as it should," Mr Moss said.

While forking out for a new air conditioner may be costly at the time, it could save you money in the long run.

"An old air conditioner would more likely be costing you more money to run than a new one would," he said.

"This is due to age and new technologies that have been developed in the new systems.

"New air conditioners have an inverter compressor that ramps up and down from 0 per cent to 100 depending on the desired temperature that the air con is trying to achieve.

"This enables the unit to run at a lower energy cost compared to the old systems where compressors run at 100 per cent all the time when trying to achieve temperature."

All new air conditioning units have a star rating, which can be viewed online so you can compare the most efficient units.

Get the best out of your AC unit

While it's important to seek advice from a qualified refrigeration technician when deciding on a new air conditioner, there are some things you can do yourself to help keep it running smoothly once it has been installed.

By following these few simple tips, you should get the best out of your unit for as long as possible:

  • Clean the internal filter monthly. This enables good airflow through the coil and gives the best chance for the air in the room to get conditioned to the desired temperature.
  • Keep the condenser, or the outside unit, free of leaves and dirt and have nothing stored around it. This will help the air conditioner unit breathe and once again get good airflow around the coil.
  • Washing the coil every month could also be an option, but be aware that electrical cables are close by.
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