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Texas homes and buildings’ central air-conditioning systems must be periodically inspected and maintained to function correctly. While a professional inspection is recommended, property owners can do much of the work by following the tips offered in this guide.

Clean the Exterior Condenser Unit and Components

The exterior condenser unit is the large box on the side of the building designed to push heat from inside to the outdoors. Inside the box are pipe coils surrounded by thousands of thin metal “fins” that allow the waves more surface area to exchange heat. Follow these tips when cleaning the exterior condenser unit and its inner components — after turning off the power to the team!

  • Remove leaves, spider webs, and other debris from the unit’s exterior. Trim foliage back several feet from the team to ensure proper airflow.
  • Remove the cover grill to clean debris from the unit’s interior. A garden hose can be helpful for this task.
  • Straighten any bent fins with a tool called a fin comb.
  • Add lubricating oil to the motor. Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
  • Clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil at least once a year. When these coils collect dirt, they may not function properly.

Inspect the Condensate Drain Line

Condensate drain lines collect condensed water and drain it away from the unit. They are located on the side of the inside fan unit. Sometimes there are two drain lines—a primary drain line that’s built into the team and a secondary drain line that can drain if the first line becomes blocked. Homeowners can inspect the drain line by using the following tips, which take very little time and require no specialized tools:

  • Inspect the drain line for obstructions, such as algae and debris. If the line becomes blocked, water will back into the drain pan and overflow, potentially causing a safety hazard or water damage to your home.
  • Make sure the hoses are secured and fit correctly.

Clean the Air Filter

Air filters remove pollen, dust, and other particles that would otherwise circulate indoors. Most filters are typically rectangular, about 20 inches by 16 inches, and about 1 inch thick. They slide into the central ductwork near the inside fan unit. The filter should be periodically washed or replaced depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. A dirty air filter will degrade indoor air quality and strain the motor to work harder to move air through it, increasing energy costs and reducing energy efficiency. The filter should be replaced monthly during heavy use during the cooling seasons. You may need to change the filter more often if the air conditioner is in constant use, if building occupants have respiratory problems, if you have pets with fur, or if dusty conditions are present.

Cover the Exterior Unit

When the cooling season is over, you should cover the exterior condenser unit in preparation for winter. If it isn’t being used, why expose it to the elements? This measure will prevent ice, leaves, and dirt from entering the unit, which can harm components and require additional maintenance in the spring. A cover can be purchased, or you can make one by taping plastic trash bags together. Be sure to turn the unit off before covering it.

Close the Air-Distribution Registers

Air-distribution registers are duct openings in ceilings, walls, and floors where cold air enters the room. They should be closed after the cooling season ends to keep warm air from back-flowing out of the room during the warming season. Pests and dust will also be unable to enter the ducts during the winter if the registers are closed. These vents typically can be opened or closed with an adjacent lever or wheel. Remember to open the registers in the spring before the cooling season starts. Also, ensure drapes, carpeting, or furniture do not block them.

In addition, homeowners should practice the following strategies to keep their central air conditioning systems running properly:

  • Have the air-conditioning system inspected by a professional each year before the start of the cooling season.
  • Reduce stress on the air conditioning system by enhancing your home’s energy efficiency. Switch from incandescent lights to compact fluorescents, which produce less heat.

In summary, homeowners can perform periodic inspections and maintenance on their home’s central air-conditioning system. Need a trusted property inspector in the North Texas area?