With spring approaching, everyone is excited by thoughts of sunny days and the absence of snow.  Although you may be ready for this change in weather, it’s important your air conditioner is too.  Some preventative measures can be taken to help prolong the life of an air conditioning system.


The Refrigeration Cycle

The refrigeration cycle, courtesy of archtoolbox.com, is shown below.  It illustrates the basic concepts of how your air conditioning system operates.  It will also be handy when discussing the preventative measures to take.

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How to Prolong the Life of your Air Conditioner

Air filters are necessary components in air handling units.  They are located at the end of the return ductwork, before the evaporator coil fan.  If the air filter is not replaced regularly and becomes too dirty, the pressure drop across the filter increases and internal air flow in the air handling unit is reduced.  This could lead to an increase in energy usage, malfunctioning or ultimately failing. 

An example would be the evaporator coil dropping below freezing, with the lack of air flow, and condensate freezing on the coil.  Although monotonous, replacing the air filter every month helps extend the life of the air conditioner.


Condensate Lines

The condensate line carries liquid that forms when humid air drops in temperature away from the evaporator coil and to the building’s plumbing system. If these lines become clogged, algae or mold growth can become an issue.

Another issue with a clogged line is flooding.  Checking the condensate line for obstructions can reduce the risk of significant and costly repairs.  It is also a good idea to place a drain pan underneath the air handling unit to catch any water from a backed up condensate line and prevent flooding.


Evaporator and Condenser Coils

The evaporator and condenser coils are responsible for the heat transfer that takes place between the refrigerant and the air.  These coils are typically made out of a material with a high heat transfer coefficient such as copper or aluminum.  Dirt or buildup can form on either coil, decreasing their efficiency.

Whether it’s dusting the evaporator coil or removing grass clippings from the condensing unit, cleaning the coils of your air conditioning system will help maintain efficiency and low operating costs.


Allegheny Design Services

If your building and/or equipment has been through one too many rough winters, contact Allegheny Design Services at 304-599-0771.  ADS provides structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering services, specializing in retrofit and new construction.

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Thanks for reading,

Alex

 

Written by Alex Clarkson, EIT, Junior Mechanical Engineer

Alex-ClarksonAlex Clarkson joined the Allegheny Design Services team in March of 2015 as an engineering Intern. He graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia University with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in May 2015. While at WVU, Alex served as the treasurer of the student branch of ASHRAE during the fall 2014 semester and president during the spring 2015 semester. Prior to joining ADS, Alex worked as an MEP engineering Intern at Miller Engineering. He is now a junior mechanical engineer at ADS, primarily focusing on the design of mechanical and plumbing building systems.