101 on Air-Conditioner Servicing

“What are the different parts inside an air conditioner?”

“How does an air conditioner work?”

“How do you actually maintain one?”

These are some common questions that new home owners often ask themselves. If you do not maintain your air conditioner properly, you will face a lot of problems over time.

Before we delve into this topic on air-conditioner servicing, let me give you a brief introduction of what an air conditioner is made up of. An air conditioner is a machine that works wonders, helping you to cool down your surrounding and removing the awful heat. As Singapore’s weather is very humid these days, most people will prefer to be in air conditioned environments. Hence, many Singaporeans have at least one air conditioner back at home.

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How does an Air Conditioner work?

Many people often have a misconstrued impression of how Air-Conditioning works. Air-Conditioning is NOT the process of blowing cold air into the room to cool it down BUT rather the process of removing heat from the room through the use of Refrigerant (which we commonly refer to as Gas).

Refrigerant (Such as R22 / R134A) flows through the entire Air-Conditioning System via insulated copper pipes, connecting the external unit ( which comprises of both the Compressor and Condensing Unit in a single article ) and the Internal unit which we see in our room - the Evaporator Unit. The Refrigerant is basically the medium that transports heat from the room to the external environment.

Think of it this way - Refrigerant temperature is lower than the external environment and through thermal laws, heat is transferred from the environment into the refrigerant. The Refrigerant gains in temperature and at the heat is then expelled through the fans in the external Condensing unit ( that is why the air blowing out from the External Unit is hot ).

It is the Compressor unit that then comes into place - Compressing the Refrigerant and lowering its temperature before sending it on its way back to the Indoor Internal Evaporator Unit where the cycle repeats.

In all, via the law of thermodynamics (compression of air, temperature and pressure changes , state of refrigerant changes and yada yada), Air Conditioning is effectively the process of heat transfer from the internal environment to the external environment via the use of Refrigerants.

Effectively, Refrigerants play a big role in Air-Conditioning and is also the reason why Air-Conditioners are not cold anymore when there is leakage in the pipe, i.e. Refrigerant Leak (Gas Leak). In such a situation, there is a need to "top up gas" to ensure proper heat transfer between the internal and external environment. It could even escalate into a situation that requires a change the entire piping system if the leak is heavy.

And that my friends, is how an air conditioner works!

So why should you clean your air conditioner? Cleaning your air conditioner regularly will prolong its useful life as well as help you save on your monthly electrical bills and energy. Imagine how much money you can potentially save each year!

Air Conditioner Servicing by Air Connection

We can do our part to maintain our air conditioners by cleaning and washing the exterior of the air conditioner and filters every two weeks. But when do we require the professionals? When we need them to check the condition of our air conditioner’s system.

I was given the privilege to witness a service cleaning by Air Connection. There were three maintenance officers who dropped by to service a System 4 (4 air conditioning units) and they were very friendly and helpful. In the whole process of servicing, they kindly explained to me each step and the numerous parts & functions of the air conditioner. From what I observed, a normal air conditioner servicing consists of two phases: Cleaning the air conditioner and checking the compressor.

During the first phase, the exterior air conditioner case was removed physically first followed by the two filters, condenser, evaporator and lastly the cooling coil. All parts are cleaned thoroughly with water and a vacuum cleaner was used to suck water and particles from the water pipe and the two filters. The interior of the air conditioner was cleaned physically with a semi-wet piece of cloth.

Here are some pictures to show you what happens during the service:

1) Removal of water in the condenser:

2) Removal of evaporator:   

3) Cleansing of cooling coil with vacuum:

4) Removal of water and any impurities from water pipe:

5) After placing back the respective parts, this is how it looks now!

This are the differences before and after.

Before:

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After:

Look at the significant changes!

The end of the air-conditioner’s water pipe (usually located near the washroom floor) was also checked to prevent any clogging of small gels.

After the completion of the first phase, the Air Connection team proceeded with the second phase to check the refrigerant level in the compressor. The outer layer of the compressor was removed and an amp meter & a gas meter were attached to the compressor to check if the electricity and gas were in a safe range (around 0.75 ampere & above 140 for gas). I was informed by the Air Connection team that the refrigerant gas should be able to last up to a year and a half before requiring any top-up.

This is how an amp meter and a gas meter look like respectively:

The air conditioner servicing concluded upon the checking of the amp meter and gas meter.

Thank you Air Connection for a job well done! It was a very efficient process and we enjoyed excellent, prompt service from the team! 

Before we end this post, I would like to dispense some advice for you readers:

1) Service your air conditioners once every six months to keep your air conditioners in tip top shape.

2) Clean your filters once every two weeks to prevent dust particles from accumulating and clogging up the system. This will greatly decrease the likelihood of your air conditioner running into technical difficulties.

I hope that with this article, you are now equipped to better maintain your air conditioners! Thank you for reading!

The servicing was generously sponsored by Air Connection and written by our new Intern Cliffton Chua, edits by Lydia :)  

Lydia Lok

Lydia is a former civil servant who worked on policies regarding social issues and Singapore small medium enterprises. After serving the nation for six years, she left to join the start-up scene with Intraix to be an energy super hero! With a major in Political Science from NUS (minor in English), and a specialisation in Singapore’s public administration/ policy, Lydia has a passion for all things pertaining to start-ups and social enterprises!