Asked on May 2, 2013

Air Conditioner Maintenance?

NancyLulu DubinWoodbridge Environmental


I live in a pretty old apartment with an air conditioner that's probably been here since the 70's. I'm not sure what kind of maintenance it has received, if any. Is it necessary to do regular maintenance like changing coolant or something?
8 answers
  • Lulu, Maintenance on a system such as this is really only changing the filters. Quite often the filters were not properly serviced over the years causing a buildup of dust on the fan. This dust can cause the cooling system to work harder to cool the room in which its located. As far as service for coolant, most likely its a sealed system and no access is provided for in field work. Much like your refrigerator only keeping it clean is all that is needed. Also if there was a leak of refrigerant from the system it would not cool at all. These units even window units hold such a low charge even the smallest leak will be empty in short order. So simply change the filter and any exposed fins from the system should be vacuumed. That is all you can do. :)

  • J & J Refrigeration
    on May 3, 2013

    Older air conditioners mounted in the wall or window should have both coils(front-evaporator & back-condenser) washed with power washer or taken to self serve car wash. You will probably need another person to help with lifting and carring. You will have to remove casing. Do not get tip of hose to close to coil(presure may damage fins). Wash both sides of coils. Try to get only the coils wet, but it is alright to get other parts wet. Drain and let air dry. Reassemble and you should be good to go.

  • David Richardson
    on May 3, 2013

    Lulu, One thing to also concern, depending on the age of the unit, you may want to look at replacing it with an updated model. Window Units are very economical today and the ones manufactured now are more energy efficient than units that are older than 10 years. As far as maintenance, cleaning the coils and checking the fan motor are really the only things that need to be addressed on window units.

  • H.O. Electric
    on May 3, 2013

    I would concider buying a new unit. A new unit will save energy, therefore money. you can take it with you when you move.

    • Jay Taylor
      on Jul 7, 2014

      @H.O. Electric I agree with you .Of course, it is time for change. If you are living with outdated Air condition system then it is a time for update, gets modern air condition systems with latest equipment, which will give a peak performance and you can save your energy bills. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Lulu Dubin
    on May 9, 2013

    Thanks for the input everyone! @David Richardson, @H.O. Electric & @J & J Creative Construction I only plan to live in this apartment another year and a half so I don't want to spend a lot of money or buy a new unit. This unit was built inside the wall and it's one of those deals where the air comes out into two rooms, on either side of the wall (if you're familiar with these) so it doesn't seem to me that I can remove the unit in any way, but I'll check again. Either way, according to the contract we're not allowed to make any structural changes to the apartment, so I don't want to risk removing or replacing the unit and causing damage to the wall. Also, we live on the ground floor, so all/most of our windows have safety bars on them, so I think a window unit is out of the question. @Woodbridge Environmental I will look into changing the filters. There is definitely cold air coming out so I doubt there's a leak, but it seems like the air flow could definitely be stronger. Thanks again!

  • Lulu, then the fan is dirty. The tiny squirrel cage style motor fills fast with dust if the filters have not been properly maintained. A 1/16 build up on the tiny cups of the fan can lower your air flow by close to 20%! This air loss is often the reason why people think they need to do something with the refrigerant charge. Not only does it prevent the air from moving properly but it effects the cooling capacity of the unit. Sometimes if you can see the fan a simple air blast from those cans for computers will do the trick in getting them cleaner. Just be sure to be running the vacuum when doing this or there will be dust everywhere. Before you turn the unit back on, cover it with a towel until the fan runs for 30 seconds or so to catch any loose dust that the vacuum missed or you will be dusting the entire apartment.

  • Lulu Dubin
    on May 9, 2013

    Thanks @Woodbridge Environmental! I'll try that.

  • Nancy
    on Mar 24, 2015

    Another thing to consider is that older air conditioners can give you Legionnaire's disease from improper filter maintenance.

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