Recently a window air conditioner caught fire, gutting two bedrooms and the attic in the small home in San Diego. Nearby trees also caught fire, causing an overhead electrical wire to crash to the ground. An elderly lady, suffering from smoke inhalation, was taken to the hospital.
It could have been worse, but smoke inhalation, a gutted home and downed trees and wires are bad enough. The cause was all too common, a malfunctioning air conditioner.
These units are popular all over the country, and in fact are the most common device used to stay comfortable on hot days.
Need Regular Inspections
But experts say they are often not handled correctly. Air conditioners need to be inspected regularly and tuned up once a year, just like any mechanical device.
As an example, in a similar fire in Memphis, Tennessee, in September, 2016, the Memphis Fire Department blamed the power cord on the air conditioner.
According to air conditioner specialists, power cords are major contributors to fires related to air conditioners. If the wire isn’t the correct size, it can easily overheat. It overloads the circuit, causing the fire.
What To Look For
HVAC technicians suggest that homeowners do a quick inspection once a month to look for obvious problems. These include:
The Benefits of an A/C Tune-up
Every mechanical device has moving parts that wear out with use and age. A yearly tune-up lets a skilled technician check your air conditioning unit for signs of wear and tear and damage. By catching problems early, he can keep your air conditioner running safety and prevent fires. Early repairs are also less expensive.
He can perform preventive maintenance that adds years to your air conditioner’s useful life. His tweaks will also keep it running at peak performance, keeping you more comfortable because it produces more cool air, more quickly. It also saves you money by reducing the amount of energy it consumes.
What Happens During a Tune-Up
During an annual tune-up, the technician will clean and change the filters in your unit. This lets air move freely and traps debris before it gets into the air you breathe.
He will check the thermostat to make sure it is calibrated correctly. He examines the electrical components, including the cords and plugs, to make sure they are in good repair. At the same time he checks the current and motor voltage. He inspects the system controls to make sure the device starts, stops and shuts down correctly. All of these are safety measures.
He lubricates the moving parts to reduce friction. This increases efficiency and keeps your system operating longer. The technician inspects and cleans the condensate drain line. The evaporator and condenser coils are next. And the components in the blower are cleaned and adjusted.
Stay safe. Let a skilled HVAC technician tune up your air conditioner once a year. It will give you peace of mind and save you money.