It's probably been a while since you last used your window air conditioner. In fact, you may even have it tucked away in a corner of your attic or storage area. But with the wintertime chill giving way to springtime warmth, now's the time to press your window A/C unit back into service. But before you do that, here are a few things you'll want to do to get it ready for the long and hard work ahead of it.
Perform a Rodent/Insect Check First
Whether it was left in your window or stashed inside your home throughout the winter, a dormant window A/C unit makes a tempting wintering home for mice, rat, and other rodents. Insects like ants, crickets, and cockroaches can also find the confines of your window A/C unit cozy enough to establish a new colony.
So before you start using your unit again, it's a good idea to carefully inspect it for any signs of pest infestation. Ideally, you should bring the entire unit outdoors and carefully disassemble it, all the while looking for any insect or rodent droppings. You can also leave the unit outdoors for a day or so and place bait near the unit to flush out any stubborn inhabitants.
Give Your Window A/C Unit a Thorough Cleaning
Having your window A/C unit apart also gives you an opportunity to give it a good cleaning. Start by removing large pieces of debris from the unit, either by hand or with the help of some compressed air. Once your unit is debris-free, you can then focus on washing away the accumulated dirt and grime.
Spray a mixture of mild detergent and warm water on the A/C unit and use a soft-bristle brush to give it a gentle scrubbing. Afterwards, use a garden hose to rinse down the unit and let it air dry before putting it back together. Don't forget to wash or change your air filter after cleaning your window A/C unit.
Check the State of Your Coils
After washing your window A/C unit, you'll want to have a look at the evaporator and condenser coils mounted at the front and rear of the unit. It's not unusual for the fragile aluminum fins lining the coils to get damaged after inadvertent contact during handling or after being struck by debris. Bent fins can prevent the coils from absorbing and releasing latent heat collected during operation, resulting in poor cooling performance.
Fortunately, you or your HVAC specialist can use a specialized fin-straightening comb to straighten out bent fins without damaging them any further or breaking them off completely.
Check the Refrigerant Charge
A small pinhole leak can cause refrigerant losses during your window A/C unit's time in storage. To prevent the problems caused by starting and operating an A/C system on low refrigerant, you should have a trained HVAC technician check your unit's refrigerant charge before using it again. This will also give your technician an opportunity to check your window A/C unit's overall health and suggest other repairs, if needed.
Why should you have a professional check your refrigerant? A/C refrigerant can be dangerous to handle since it's kept under high pressures. Checking and adding your own refrigerant also increases the likelihood of accidentally releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere or filling the A/C unit with too much refrigerant.
Give Your Drains the "All Clear"
Just like any other air conditioning system, window A/C units also generate large amounts of condensation as a byproduct of cooling your home's indoor air. Keeping your drains clean can help prevent blockages that could literally drown your window A/C unit in condensate. Use compressed air to force clogs out of the drain. Stubborn clogs can also be broken apart with a small length of stiff wire.
For more information, contact an air conditioning professional at a company like Arnold Service Co.
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