It’s that time of the year again, the time that you switch your thermostat from heat to air conditioning and hope that it works.  It’s always such a refreshing feeling once you feel that cold air coming out of the vent and you know a call to the A/C repairman won’t be needed.

It’s also a good time of the year to make sure that your A/C unit is set up for success.  One of the easiest things to check (and fix) is issues with air clearance around the outdoor condenser.  Condensers need space around them to allow for airflow.  If this space is restricted, it takes longer for your condenser to move the heat out of your building and into the environment.  This in turn takes more energy than if the air was less restricted.  If you have shrubs that have grown up near your unit, consider trimming them to improve airflow.  Don’t forget about clearance above the unit.  Many condensers have a fan blowing out of the top, and if this is blocked by a building overhang or tree, that can restrict airflow as well.

Some people like to hide their condenser in bushes or behind fencing.  This can be done, but must respect the required clearances.  Outdoor condensing units should typically have at least 12 inches from any obstruction to the side and 60 inches from anything overhead.  If you have two units side by side, the dimension should be doubled to give each unit adequate airflow.  Most units are also designed to have at least one side that can face the building, but it still needs a few inches of clearance.  You should reference your unit’s installation manual for exact requirements.  Typically, the bigger the unit the greater the required distance.  If you don’t have an installation manual, you can usually search the model number online and be able to find it.  Below is an example of what an installation manual may show.

Condenser Clearance

You should also change your filter once every three months.  If you can’t remember the last time you changed it, now is as good a time as any.  Be sure that you are choosing the right type for your unit.

It may not be something that you can do yourself, but cleaning the outdoor unit with a special condenser cleaner can also increase heat transfer and make your unit more energy efficient.  Do not attempt to clean the unit with a regular hose or power washer.  This could bend the coils and make the unit less efficient.  A professional can also clean your indoor units and ductwork if you think your system is really dirty.

Periodic maintenance of your air conditioner can keep it running efficiently and even make it last longer.  If you own or manage a commercial property, we can help you identify other potential ways to save money by saving energy through an Energy Audit.  If you are looking to build or remodel a building, our design services can help make sure you have the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that best fit your needs.  If you are seeking to work with an engineering firm that is client-centered and strives to provide services that are on time, on budget and exceed expectations, please contact us. We would love to work with you on your next project!