Maintenance Tips - CoolerBearJax

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Maintenance Tips

HVAC Maintenance Tips

 
The age old adage is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Below you will find our Preventative Maintenance checklist. This is our proven method of keeping your system operating reliably and efficiently. Regular maintenance helps give you peace of mind by reducing the risk of unnecessary system shut down created by clogged drains, dirty coils, and other preventable mechanical issues.
 
You would not drive your car 100,000 miles without changing the oil. The same logic holds true for your home comfort system. Regular preventative maintenance is the best way to insure trouble free operation and peak performance. We recommend bi annual planned maintenance to prepare the system for cooling and heating seasons. By cleaning the system and checking all functions of the system components, we can insure that your system is ready to handle summer’s heat, winter’s cold, and the occasional winter warm spell.




How Air Conditioning System Works
HVAC Preventative Maintenance Checklist

Customers can inspect the non-italicized items below for fix common issues.
Italicized items below will need a Cooler Bear Heat & Air Specialist.
Bi-annual preventative maintenance will ensure that your system runs as efficiently as possible.
Your Cooler Bear Heat & Air Specialist will perform the following tasks, depending on the unit:

OUTDOOR UNITS
  • Clean dirt, leaves and debris from inside cabinet
  • Inspect base pan for restricted drain openings—remove obstructions as necessary
  • Inspect coil and cabinet—clean as needed
  • Inspect fan motor and fan blades for wear and damage—on older models lubricate as needed
  • Inspect unit for proper refrigerant level and adjust if necessary
  • Inspect control box, associated controls/accessories, wiring and connections. Controls may include contactors, relays, circuit boards, capacitors, sump heat and other accessories. All control box and electrical parts should be checked for wear or damage.
  • Inspect compressor and associated tubing for damage

INDOOR UNITS
  • Inspect control box, associated controls, wiring and connections
  • Clean or replace air filter
  • Inspect evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain lines. Clean as needed
  • Inspect and clean blower assembly (includes blower housing, blower wheel and motor)
  • Inspect evaporator coil, drain pan and condensate drain lines. Clean as needed
  • WHILE YOUR SYSTEM IS OPERATING
  • Monitor system starting characteristics and capabilities
  • Monitor air conditioning and heat pump systems for correct refrigerant charge
  • Measure high and low side system pressures
  • Monitor system for correct line and load volts/amps
  • Monitor system operation per manufacturer's specifications
  • Provide system operation report and recommend repairs or replacement as necessary


Heat Pump and Air Conditioner Operation

 
Most homes in the North East Florida area are conditioned by air to air heat pumps. Some heat pumps are referred to as water source, or water to air heat pumps, as they use water for the medium to transfer heat to and from the home. There are some Air Conditioners with electric heat, and others use gas or oil furnaces for heat in combination with the air conditioner. Nearly all home comfort systems use a fan and duct system to distribute conditioned air throughout the home. Return duct can be “positive” using ducted return from ceiling fixtures that are connected to the fan coil assembly by physical duct work. There are many homes and condominiums that use “passive” or “free return”. These terms are used to describe a fan coil assembly that sits in a closet and draws return air through a louvered door or a return fixture through the wall of the mechanical closet. There are also ductless heat pumps that can be used in single or multiple zone applications where duct work will not fit in available space. These systems are generally referred to as ductless mini split systems.

The heat pump or air conditioner condensing unit is the outdoor section. This component houses the compressor and condenser coil. Some other parts in a condensing unit are the accumulator, muffler, condenser fan and motor, reversing valve (in heat pumps), contactor, and capacitor. The condensing unit is the machine that does most of the work circulating the refrigerant that absorbs heat and transfers heat to or from outdoors.
 
 
The air handler (evaporator fan coil) is the indoor section of the system. The air handler is primarily an evaporator coil, fan motor and blower wheel inside of a fan housing, a low voltage fan control board, and a cabinet. The evaporator coil is connected to the condensing unit using a sealed refrigerant tubing loop. Heat is absorbed by the refrigerant gas that is running through the evaporator coils, as air passes through the fan coil assembly. Moisture condenses out of the air, is collected in a catch pan, and is carried outdoors in a pvc gravity condensate drain line. When a gravity drain cannot be routed outside, the condensate can be pumped outdoors. Heat that is absorbed by the refrigerant gas, at the evaporator coil, is carried to the condensing unit. That heat is transferred to the outdoors by the condenser fan pulling air across the condensing coils. The heat you feel coming out of the top of your condensing unit is the heat that is being transferred from your living space to outside. The refrigerant gas is condensed back into liquid form at the condenser and is sent back to the evaporator to repeat the cycle.
 

Heat pumps reverse that cycle using a “reversing valve” which essentially makes the two coils “trade” duties. The heat pump condenser will frost over in heating mode. When humid air is drawn across the coils, moisture in the air condenses and freezes on the coil. As frost builds up on the coil it becomes less effective at absorbing heat. The machine will defrost itself by temporarily reversing the cycle back to cooling mode to heat and dry the condenser coil. During the defrost cycle the air handler activates the electric resistance “emergency” heat strips to offset the cooling effect created by the defrost cycle. The defrost cycle also shuts down the condenser fan motor to speed up the coil defrost process. This is a normal heat pump function that makes abnormal sounds come from the heat pump condensing unit. You may see steam rising from the condensing unit during a defrost cycle. Do not be alarmed or turn the system off as this is a normal function of a heat pump condensing unit. The defrost cycle can be timed and or controlled by a temperature sensor that is located at the condenser coil.
 

The system is controlled by your thermostat, some older systems may still have thermostats that are controlled by mercury bulb contacts. These thermostats are generally less accurate and must be recycled when replaced by a new digital thermostat. There are a wide variety of digital thermostats available. Digital programmable thermostats allow you to run a program, fit to your schedule, to raise and lower temperatures according to your time preferences. They are energy conserving devises that help reduce electric consumption. Thermostats are also available in a variety of wifi versions that allow you to monitor and change settings from your mobile devices.
 

Do it yourself checklist
 
  • Change filters monthly
  • Keep condensate termination point free of debris, grass clippings, and lawn overgrowth. Termination point should be at least 2’ off of the homes foundation
  • Keep the condensing unit free of foliage and clutter around the unit
  • Avoid hitting refrigerant piping, low voltage control wires, and condenser coils with weed trimmers
  • Rinse the condenser and coils with city water as often as possible in beach locations to get the salt and sand off of the machine. Rinsing is also helpful during pollen season to keep coils free of pollen dust.  
    **Do not jet water into condenser coils and avoid getting water in the control area of the machine, a soft shower setting is best to rinse the condenser. Never use ground water to clean condensing units as the Sulphur and minerals in ground water are harmful to the coils and cabinetry!
  • Keep leaves, pine needles, and other debris out of the condenser. Leaf guards are a great way to prevent these things from making their way into you condensing unit.
    **Never open the top of a condensing unit to clean inside the condensing unit before confirming that the power supply to the machine has been turned off !
 
 
 
 
 
 
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