The heat of summer will soon be bearing down, giving millions of window-mounted air conditioners a real workout. Many owners of said units are wondering why their air conditioners aren't working properly. Good news! In most situations, consumers can fix a window air conditioner themselves, provided they have the right information and an inexpensive handy tool.
If you have a window air conditioner in your home, here's what you need to know to fix it, clean it and make it like new.
AN EASY DO-IT-YOURSELF PROJECT
More than any other household appliance, window-type air conditioning units are the most frequently neglected. This is a pity because one that is operating poorly can be a big energy guzzler. A little maintenance means that homeowners can save money on both utility and repair bills.
With the right information and access to replacement parts, you should be able to repair a window air conditioner yourself, saving the cost of a service call or, worse, replacing the unit altogether.
BASICALLY THE SAME
All residential window air conditioners have a cooling system consisting of four primary components: a compressor, an evaporator, a temperature-sensing device and a condenser.
Air conditioner cooling systems are better understood if you think of them as devices that remove heat and humidity from the air rather than devices that cool the air.
These are the essential maintenance steps you should take to keep your window-mounted air conditioning unit operating in tip-top condition while using the least amount of energy:
Every month during the months of operation, replace (or clean) the filter located in the front grill. Cost to replace: about $20.
The condensing coils on an air conditioner get very dirty, and the dirt tends to accumulate on the inside of the coils, out of sight. Once a year, remove the entire cover of the air conditioner to gain access to the coils, and then clean them by blowing compressed, or "canned," air on them.
Here are solutions for the top four repair dilemmas with window air conditioners:
No. 1: Bent Fins
Don't despair if you've accidentally bent the delicate aluminum fins on the rear of the unit. They need to be straight for the best operation. This is not as tedious as it might sound. Repair Clinic (https://www.repairclinic.com/) will send you a handy fin-straightening comb. Cost: $12.78.
No 2: A Motor Is Running, but No Air Is Blowing
Air conditioners have two motors: the compressor and the fan motor. It is possible that only one is running. If, after removing the cover of the unit, you discover the fan blade is very stiff and difficult to rotate, the fan motor may need oiling or may need to be replaced.
No. 3: Water Leaks From the Front of the Unit
This is normal. All air conditioners should be installed so they tilt slightly backward to allow for proper removal of condensed water that accumulates.
No. 4: The Air Smells Musty
Air conditioners remove moisture from the air. Most of it is evaporated from the unit. However, it is possible for some water to stagnate in the base of the air conditioner. Also, dirt, lint or dust can collect in the water pan at the base of the unit and absorb water, allowing mold and mildew to grow. All this leads to bad smells. Thoroughly clean the water pan each year when you clean the condenser coils.
Need more help with your window-mounted air conditioners? Check out Repair Clinic, where you can live chat with a repair technician, plus get the exact parts you may need. Super helpful site!
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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