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Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog

Your Air Conditioner’s Worst Enemy

If your home air conditioner could speak it would probably tell you that it hates winter. Surprisingly, the mild winter we are having this year in Los Angeles can do even more damage to the outdoor components of home heating and cooling systems. Danger to your air conditioning equipment comes from an unexpected source.

You may remember making a wish on the fluffy seeds that float in the air.

Now that you are a homeowner you will wish for those seeds stay far away from your air conditioning condenser!

The assault on your HVAC equipment starts with the leaves in fall making their way through the grate on top of your outdoor equipment, the AC condenser, which is located either next to your home or on the roof. The condenser includes a coil of tubes which carry refrigerant. Fins, aluminum blades, are mounted on the condenser coil and they are thin enough to transfer heat very rapidly. Leaves that fall into your condenser lay for months against the delicate fins. Rain tamps them down and turns them into a moldy mess.

When spring comes seed pods across Los Angeles break open and millions of pounds of seeds are released into the atmosphere. Fluffy hair like fibers help the seed float through the air, giving it a wider range of distribution. Similar to true cotton, these fibers can be gathered and woven into fabric if properly prepared or used as stuffing if enough fiber is gathered.

What these fluffy fibrous seeds do to your air conditioner is disastrous! AC condenser fins must be kept clean and free of damage for them to work well. Nothing gets more deeply embedded in the fins or blocks the air flow better than these kinds
of cottony seeds.

Proper care of your Air Conditioner

Air conditioning equipment manufacturers require regular professional maintenance in order to preserve their warranty. We typically recommend two maintenance visits per year to:

  • Correct refrigerant levels
  • Seal minor duct leakage in central systems
  • Standardize airflow through the evaporator coil and interior equipment
  • Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary
  • Lubricate motors and replace belts as needed
  • Check the accuracy of the thermostat

Sometimes additional cleaning is needed for the outdoor condenser or evaporative coil to remove the seeds and leaves. We use a non-toxic cleaner that safely and effectively removes caked on and dirt and debris.

A Great Solution

Some of our customers opt for a vinyl condenser cover during the winter months. These are great at blocking out the elements that cause damage. The concern is that you must remember NOT to use the air conditioner during the occasional hot winter days we get when you may be tempted to turn on the AC! Condensers need plenty of room to for proper air flow, 18 to 24 inches of side clearance and 4 feet above is recommended. If the air conditioner is turned on with a vinyl covering on the condenser, air flow is restricted and the motor can easily burn out.

If you would like a condenser cover, we can order and deliver the proper one for your unit.

If you notice that your outdoor condenser is dirty or if your air is not blowing as cold as it used to, give us a call and schedule an HVAC maintenance visit. The money saved on your energy bill will more than make up for the cost.

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