Staying cool in the summer is a lot easier with a properly functioning air conditioning system in your home. But that requires selecting the right system in the first place and then maintaining it, and if necessary, repairing it too.
Air conditioning systems come in a variety of styles and energy efficiency measured in SEER. Current regulations require at least a 13 SEER system with SEER ratings going as high as 21.
01 of 07
It would be so easy if all you had to do to buy an air conditioner was to well, buy an air conditioner!
However, today you have many different options. And that's really a good thing. You now have choices available to you that cover a wide range of budget and physical construction considerations.
When considering an air conditioning system you will find there are options available including unitary, PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner), window style, portable units, central air systems, split / ductless systems and so on.
Even though there are several styles and price points for air conditioning systems, they all use the same basic components of refrigerant, condenser, compressor, expansion valve and an evaporator coil
In this tutorial we will review the most commonly used air conditioning and cooling systems in the home, including these systems:
- Window Air Conditioner
- Portable Air Conditioner
- Split or Ductless Air Conditioner (technically called a packaged terminal air conditioner)
- Central Air Conditioning System
02 of 07
One of the most amazing machines made is the air conditioner. I mean it takes heat from your house and dumps it outside. And does it using 5 bizarre things including:
- Expansion Valve
- Evaporator Coil
Refrigerant is amazing stuff as it changes its state from a gas vapor to a liquid as heat is collected from your house and rejected to the outside.
The Compressor is the pump that keeps things moving and the Condenser is where the refrigerant changes state for a vapor to a liquid. The Expansion Valve houses more physics and state changes and a hot high-pressure fluid on one side of the valve change to a cool low-pressure mist on the other side of the valve because a gas cools as it expands. Lastly, the Evaporator Coil is where cool air is created as air is blown across the coil to cool your home.
It's all explained in this tutorial.
03 of 07
The air conditioner takes hot air and makes it cold. The heat pump does the same thing except it can also "run in reverse" and pump heat out of cold air. So cool!
These two devices share the same components of refrigerant, compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator coil.
With their location outside, a good annual maintenance program should include:
- Cleaning the condensing coils of dirt, leaves and other debris;
- Checking the condensing coil fins for damage;
- Lubricating fan bearings; and
- Inspecting the fan for damage.
This tutorial will also describe shutting off the power to the unit, removing the protective grills and lubricating the motor, cleaning condenser coils, straightening the coil fins and leveling the condenser.
04 of 07
Window air conditioners are a great solution for limited cooling applications, or when you want to add removable cooling to a home you don't own, like a rental.
But to do an effective job at cooling they need to be sized properly and periodically maintained. A room that is 150 square feet to 250 square feet require an average of 6,000 BTU of cooling per hour, a 450 to 550 square foot room requires about 12,000 BTU then the ratio decreases above that point in terms of BTU required per square foot.
Sizing and seasonal maintenance tips are all found in this tutorial.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Window-mounted air conditioners pack a lot of equipment in a small space. The same basic components as found in a central air system are found in these little units that set on your windowsill, it's just that the condenser discharge is out the window instead of a remote ground mounted unit.
This tutorial will cover some of the problems more common to the window air conditioner such as:
- Water Drips From the Front Panel
- Air Conditioner Cycles On and Off Too Frequently
- Unit Will Not Turn On
- Unit Blows Fuses or Pops a Circuit Breaker
06 of 07
This tutorial is about doing more with less. So what do you do if you have a window air conditioner with good cooling capacity but want to cool more than one room?
Well, aside from using multiple window air conditioners there are some tricks you can use employing a box fan or even your home's furnace and ductwork.
You'll learn how to strategically place box fans for maximum effect and how to use the return air duct in your home's furnace to deliver cool air to remote rooms. Cool solutions!
07 of 07
The condensing unit in your air conditioner relies on air moving through its cooling fins to cool the refrigerant in the system. Occasionally the fins, made of thin metal can get damaged from impact by tree limbs or sticks, hail, high-pressure power washing or other external factors.
Bent fins can restrict the flow of air through the condensing unit and can cause problems. So when the fins get bent it's a good idea to fix the fins and straighten them with a small tool called a fin comb. The fin comb comes in different head styles and sizes to best match the condensing coil fin counts.