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Pre-Season AC Maintenance Check

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It would be best to integrate an AC maintenance check into your routine in prepping for the Portland summer.

Summer months anywhere in Oregon can be humid, especially in Portland. Its winter climate is considered mild, with significant Mediterranean effects all year round.

If you get hot quickly, you should take steps to prevent a mid-season breakdown. Keep your air conditioners well-maintained to beat the heat every summer.

Why is Pre-season Maintenance Necessary?

Like routine check-ups for our bodies and cars, an air conditioner is no different. Its system requires regular maintenance. Pre-season tune-ups keep your air conditioner working correctly and can save you from unwanted costs against current and future problems.

As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention...you know the rest.

Even the most reliable AC unit can break down in Portland's summer months without proper maintenance. A pre-season tune-up helps prevent breakdowns during hotter seasons when you need your cooling unit in tip-top shape the most.

A lower refrigerant level produces poor airflow and won't be able to fight back scalding temperatures. Under intense heat, the air conditioner needs refrigerant levels at an all-time high.

However, there are more than a few obvious indicators that we should be on the lookout for.

Signs your HVAC System is in Trouble

It isn't easy to figure out if your air conditioner has issues.

Besides obvious indicators like loud noises and lack of cooling, there aren't any more we know to distinguish as our AC's distress signals.

Watch out for these signs:

  • If your AC takes much longer to cool your room
  • If your AC has to be set a few degrees lower than usual to achieve your desired room temperature
  • If your AC takes longer to respond to commands you set on your remote
  • If it takes longer to turn on/off
  • If it emits a high-pitched whistling sound. It isn't loud or disruptive, but it is high-pitched.
  • If it produces low murmuring from heavy internal vibrations
  • If you can see the outdoor unit vibrating or seizing and promptly stopping when switched off
  • If the indoor/outdoor unit is superheated to the touch
  • If there are bursts of moisture blown from the unit
  • If your AC is leaking indoors or from its outdoor pipes
  • If your AC produces foul-smelling odors
  • If your AC has a digital display on the unit, some have visual indicators to signal internal issues.
  • If at any time your outdoor unit produces smoke or smog. Even releasing just a bit of smoke may indicate a wiring issue, a fire hazard. Please do not dismiss it as a one-off. Get it checked immediately.

If you are experiencing any signs listed above, call a professional immediately.

However, if you aren't explicitly having any issues stated above, trust your gut if you feel something unusual in the air your AC is producing.

Still, we don't encourage you to tinker with your unit to verify your assumptions solely based on air quality alone. You can't determine if your AC unit is dipping without the help of an expert.

Hazards of Tinkering with Your AC

If you are inexperienced in remedying technical issues with appliances, do not risk opening up your unit.

You may do more harm than good by DIY-ing the cleaning or tuning of your unit.

Even if you are an experienced mechanic, air conditioners have different mechanisms you need to familiarize yourself with before fiddling with any of your AC's components.

Hazards include:

  • Minor and severe burns
  • Electrocution
  • Headaches from fume inhalation
  • Allergies 
  • Sustaining sprains and other bone injuries from reaching units in high places

Besides personal injuries, you can cause more significant damage to your AC unit that will cost you more.

Additionally, unknowledgeable upgrades and repairs made to your unit can cause long-term issues. It will not only shorten the lifespan of your unit but may also hinder its capabilities.

You cannot risk it in time for summer when you rely on it the most.

If your HVAC equipment is having trouble producing appropriate levels, you will need professional advice on what to do next.

What are HVAC Systems?

All air conditioning types of equipment have an HVAC system responsible for managing air flow.

The HVAC system takes air from the outside and conditions it according to your thermostat settings to provide satisfactory temperatures and enhance the overall indoor air quality. There are various moving parts in the system that require specific skills to handle.

The improper handling of the HVAC system can permanently damage your AC unit.

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Heating and blower components comprise its system controls.

Within its heating elements lay different coils, chambers, and motors.

Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is a sophisticated system. It is responsible for converting the outside's atmosphere into a gaseous state for an even distribution indoors.

It also possesses a heat pump, which extracts heat from indoors to help lower temperatures.

While it is comprised of robust material, its tremendous responsibility of controlling temperatures leaves this HVAC component the most susceptible to ruptures and damages, which your typical tools can't remedy.

Heating components handle higher temperatures but require routine check-ups and maintenance by someone with the necessary expertise and specific tools to remain cool.

After an expert inspection, you will know which areas need work, and a tune-up will help prevent cracks that cause air leaks. A leak in its ducts can interrupt air production through the AC unit's blowers.

Blower Motors

More complex elements found within your air conditioner are its blower motors. Without its engines, your well-conditioned air won't make it indoors.

If your ducts have leaks, your blowers will overcompensate to meet your temperature requirements. This ends up using more power in delivering air to meet standards, increasing energy costs.

You might be quick to chalk up an unjust increase in energy bills without feeling any colder to the hotter climate. Still, a well-maintained air conditioner will only produce a negligible rise in energy bills to compensate for weather conditions.

Insufficient refrigerant levels lead to the freezing of coils that cause cracks where air may escape. Air leaks within ducts interfere with proper air conditioning by diminishing air flow quality and pushing its air conditioning functions into overdrive, utilizing a surplus of energy.

Disproportionate refrigerant levels also cause dirty coils that may affect internal temperature levels. While cleaning coils may seem simple, temperatures too cool can freeze coils and filters, which may leak into ducting systems and cause water damage.

The cleaning of air filters and other equipment must be done thoroughly and efficiently. You should schedule pre-season maintenance that includes thorough cleaning in the spring to prepare for Portland's summer months.

A pre-season maintenance check will also expose interferences in electrical connections. You might find other obstructions within condenser coils, which affect your unit's energy efficiency in time for summer.

Electrical System

If you hear strange noises in your air conditioning unit, it may be more than just a dirty filter that needs cleaning.

Water damage can lead to the short-circuiting of system controls which can be detrimental to its lifespan and pose a fire hazard.

A general electrician can check out your outdoor unit and determine whether there have any wiring issues. Still, internal matters won't be as easy to find. You should hire an electrician who specializes in AC units.

Maybe one that is certified by Energy Star, who can address electrical issues and diagnose price surges.

HVAC System: Air Conditioner

Your air conditioner is comprised of all the components stated above. A snag in one of its elements may result in its total breakdown.

Schedule pre-season maintenance routinely to avoid any delays in diagnosis. You can prevent problems from arising or worsening by regularly keeping up with tune-ups that remedy any issues immediately.

If you purchased your unit from a Brand X Factory Authorized Dealer, you could check if your warranty still covers a tune-up. You might end up paying more for that company's after-sale services.

It would be best if you utilized the proper measures to prevent more minor issues from becoming bigger ones in the future, especially during hotter seasons. By properly preserving your unit, not only will you stay cool for the summer, but you may avoid serious costs down the line.

Luckily, finding a reliable third-party expert in Portland, OR, isn't hard.

Schedule your AC Maintenance in Portland, OR, Today!

A routine check-up is a must to keep any cooling system working properly. Air conditioners require more attention in places like Portland, which has a more Mediterranian climate, where winters are milder and summers more intense.

If you neglect your cooling equipment, you might feel the burn of summer indoors.

You can count on us at Sunset Heating & Cooling to provide comprehensive HVAC services anywhere in Portland. 

 If you're curious about our services, you can chat with us online 24/7. For immediate concerns, you can reach us via text or call at (503) 500-5866. 

Schedule your yearly maintenance now.

What Our Clients Say

Sunset went out of their way to help with my project and David was amazing. Great job and look forward to future projects.

-Todd T.

Roman did an awesome job. I had the trifecta, new AC unit ,furnace and hot water heater. Courteous, and competent service. I highly recommend Sunset Heating & Cooling.

-Charles E.

Eduardo provided excellent service when he repaired our AC. I felt his effort was over and above expected. Polite and professional at all times. Good job!

-William G.

Caring, professional and helpful. Thanks for making things happen quickly and getting my Dear friend's heating back up and running in such a quick manner. You went above and beyond for a family in need and that is very much appreciated. Thanks from the whole group!

-Kristina K.

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