Cooling Systems Maintenance

Air Conditioning

There are several types of air conditioning systems; They all work on the same basic principle - they move heat from a cool space to a warm space. All the systems take advantage of the basic scientific laws of liquid and gases. When liquids evaporate into gases they absorb a considerable amount of heat. When gases are condensed back into a liquid state, they give off heat. In addition, if the pressure of a gas is increased, the temperature will also increase. Most systems use refrigerants called “Freon” and “Puron”, substances which change state at temperatures and pressures that are well suited for this application.

Air Cooled

Air cooled air conditioning systems typically work together with a forced-air furnace. The systems have two main components, an evaporator unit located in the duct work right above the furnace, and the condenser unit located outdoors. The refrigerant enters the evaporator as a cold liquid and absorbs heat from the house air to boil the liquid and turn it into a gas. The reduction of air temperature causes water in the house air to condense, reducing humidity levels.

The refrigerant, which is now a gas, moves outdoors to the condensing unit. The compressor squeezes the gas into a smaller volume. All of the heat which is contained in the gas is also squeezed into a smaller volume and, consequently, the gas becomes hotter than the outside air. The hot gas then enters the condenser coil. A fan in the condenser unit blows outdoor air across the coil and cools the gas. As it cools it condenses into a liquid. The liquid then passes through a pressure reducing device which causes the temperature of the liquid to drop below that of the house air. The liquid passing through the evaporator coil is evaporated into a gas again, stealing more heat and humidity from the house and the cycle continues.

Recommended Maintenace for Air Cooled

The life expectancy of an air conditioner is based on the failure of the major component of your system - the compressor. The typical life expectancy of a compressor is ten to fifteen years although many units operate well beyond this time. An annual inspection from a heating and cooling specialist and performed maintenance will maximize the life span of your system.

  • During the cooling season, periodically inspect the condensate drain line (directly above the furnace) for signs of leakage.
  • Be sure to inspect, clean or replace your furnace filter during the cooling season as well as the heating season.
  • Make sure the exterior unit remains level.
  • Inspect the refrigerant lines for missing or damaged insulation.
  • Keep the exterior unit free of debris and vegetation.
  • To prevent corrosion, most manufacturers recommend that the unit stay uncovered during the winter months.
  • Wall units should be removed for the winter.

Your air conditioner can be severely damaged if it is operated severely damaged
if it is operated when the outside temperature is below 60 degrees.

Evaporative Coolers

Evaporative cooling systems are most common in the southwest parts of the country.

Evaporative coolers consist of a blower that pulls air from the exterior into the house usually through a wet cooling pad. The moisture on the pad absorbs heat from the air and cools it as it enters the home. A pump draws water out of a tray to keep the pad moist. The water to the tray is generally supplied from the house plumbing system. A float valve is used to regulate the water level.

Two variations of this system include a drip type cooler and a rotary type cooler.

A drip type system allows water to drip into the air flow supplied by the blower. Cooling pads are not used in this system.

The rotary type cooler is much like a humidifier. A screened drum rotates through a tray of water as the blower air passes over the upper part of the rotor.

Recommended Maintenace for Evaporative Coolers

  • Periodically clean or replace the cooling pads.
  • Electric motors and blower bearings are common failure points. Be alert for any unusual noises.
  • Inspect for any leakage or corrosion around the unit.
  • Units should be drained and cleaned seasonally.


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