Spring is officially here. Baseball season has officially started. The Final Four of College Basketball will be playing for the Championship. The schools are on spring break.
So, what does this have to do with an HVAC blog? I already have had some calls about air conditioners. YES — air conditioner calls instead of heating calls. In some parts of the country, it seems, that there is warm weather — at least warm enough for some people to start to get their air conditioners ready for the real heat of summer (if we ever get there :>)).
Now, none of these calls have been about issues or problems or anything like that — they’ve been about what sort of pressures should I be seeing at 55 degrees or whatever? My simple answer to this type of question is —“has the unit ever had a history of leaks?” Now you’re wondering – that doesn’t answer the question. It really does if you truly think about it.
The refrigerant side of a system can only have 3 problems — OVERCHARGED, UNDERCHARGED, AND NON-CONDENSIBLES – right? And since refrigerant does not evaporate in the system, why should you be concerned with that side of the system. What affects the pressures you read on your gauges are all external to the refrigerant side of the system. so, if there has never been a history of leaks, why be concerned with that.
So, what are the external factors affecting these pressures?
- Is the condenser coil clean?
- Is the indoor blower wheel clean?
- Are the filters clean?
- Is the evaporator coil clean?
- On 90+% efficient furnaces, is the secondary heat-exchanger coil clean?
It all comes down to SPRING CLEANING! The biggest enemy to a properly functioning air conditioner is DIRT.
Dirt causes not enough air flow through the evaporator. Dirt causes not enough air flow through the condenser coil. Dirt causes not enough air flow through the filters.
So, why did I ask, “has the unit ever had a history of leaks?”, because if it hasn’t, then why even play with that side of the system. If you start playing with the refrigerant charge without FIRST checking all the things above, all you will do is make the system NOT work properly. If you add refrigerant because the pressures appear low and then clean the filters, you are now overcharged. If you remove refrigerant because the pressures appeared high without first cleaning the condenser, you are now under-charged. this goes on and on and on!
The last thing you should ever do is play with the refrigerant charge on any air conditioner (or heat pump) without first looking at all the thing that can and will affect those readings.
So, now that spring is officially here and air conditioning season is, hopefully, around the corner, — let’s get back to the basics. Let’s all start doing our “spring cleaning” and making sure all the components of that air conditioner are ready for summer.
AND For those of us up north who have had it with the snow this year…………..