The 10-Minute Air-con Routine That Will Save You Hundreds!
Air-con technicians hate this!
By Vince Wong
Our late founding father and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew once quipped that the greatest invention of the 21st century was the air-conditioner.
Those of us who agree with him are also aware of the huge expense involved in its running and maintenance. And if yours is blowing hot instead of cold, you are probably dreading the inevitable hunt for an affordable air-con technician, the half-day you’ll need off to wait for him, and the deep hole in your wallet.
But with a simple 10 minute routine, you can usually postpone the need for a full-on service. Used on a monthly basis, this same routine can prolong the lifespan of your air conditioner units, decrease electricity bills, and prevent allergens such as mold and dust from turning your home into a potential health hazard.
So are you ready to save? Here is what you need to know.
Know Your AC
First of all, the air conditioning unit inside your home is called the evaporator, while the unit outside your home is called the condenser. By and large, the various brands of air-conditioners all have similar, user-serviceable evaporator components, which are:
- a) Front panel
This is the hinged hood or cowl that keeps the air filters hidden from view. It is usually designed to be opened upwards to provide access to unit’s interior.
- b) Air filters
The air filters resemble large, flat pieces of netting, sponge or foam-like material splayed out over a plastic grid.
- c) Blower fan
This pulls air through the filters, and over the evaporator where it is cooled and blown out again through the vanes.
- d) Horizontal and vertical vanes
These vanes control the directions which the cold air currents.
- e) Drainage pipe
Lastly the drainage pipe prevents water that has condensed over the evaporator from pooling and spilling out
With the above components identified:
- Turn off power
Ensure that power to the air conditioner is turned off, or the circuit breaker tripped, to prevent the risk of electrocution.
- Open front panel
Flip the front panel open, exposing the air filters. You may need to tug at the panel if it is secured using a snap-fit design.
- Take out air filters and clean them
Pull the air-filters out; this is usually accomplished via a sliding action. Once the filters are out, you can clean the dust that has accumulated on them with a vacuum, brush or water.
- Push out safety latches and detach/swing out vanes
To access the blower, you will need to remove the vanes. The vanes are usually secured via safety latches and have swing out/detachable easy access.
- Vacuum the blower
The blower tends to accumulate dust and grime, just like any fan. Use a vacuum to remove the dust.
Reassemble by following the steps in reverse, then turn on power and test for improvements in cooling. Your air-con should now work as well as it did when it was new.
So why pay an air-conditioning technician?
An air-conditioner specialist will employ exactly the same steps to clean your system, but with these add-ons steps:
- using chemicals on your evaporator to prevent the buildup of mold,
- deploying a vacuum and/or chemicals to clear blockages in your drainage pipe; and
- topping up condenser coolant levels
- replace/repair broken parts like vent motors
If you are a confident DIY-er, you too can perform these additional steps up to iii). Stay tuned for a how-to right here on The Interior Portal!