Preseason Air Conditioning Service
Even while technicians continue to service heating systems, it is a good idea to start thinking about preseason cooling service. Technicians can begin reminding customers of the need for servicing their air conditioning systems before the warmer weather arrives. Just as we prepare our automobiles in the fall prior to winter's freezing temperatures, air conditioning systems need to be prepared for the hot summer conditions.
Customers can be reminded of the following reasons preseason service needs to be performed. However, all of us in the business need to remind ourselves as well.
Even a film of residue on the coil and fins of the condenser will raise the high side pressure and decrease heat transfer to the point of increasing running time and decreasing compressor efficiency. Reciprocating compressors operating with even a slightly increased high side pressure lose effective stroke rapidly, thus increasing power consumption. Excessive high side pressure is trapped in the clearance pocket of a reciprocating compressor at the end of the compression stroke. This trapped pressure must re-expand on the down stroke before the suction valve can open to draw in new refrigerant from the low side. The higher the high side pressure, the farther the piston must fall on the suction stroke before the suction valve opens. This can amount to a substantial loss in pumping capacity.
In addition to the loss in capacity, the compressor is consuming more power as it works against the higher high side pressure. Just cleaning a dirty condenser can increase capacity by 20 percent or more while decreasing operating cost by 15 percent or more, depending upon how much the high side pressure is lowered.
This has already been discussed in the last item but bears repeating. Cleaning condensers really does make a substantial difference in improving system efficiency. This fact is so important to understand that I intend to discuss it in some detail in a future article.
Properly servicing a system will reduce the possibility of a problem during the summer. Just cleaning the condenser and lowering the high side pressure will decrease the stress on the system. Additional items rectified during the preseason check may eliminate other potential problems.
For example, vibrating copper lines, lines in contact with each other, or in contact with the cabinet could become leaks. Loose electrical connections could become the cause of other problems.
A clean system operating at its rated capacity and airflow will provide the greatest possible level of comfort. A clean evaporator coil with good airflow will allow for better humidity control.
With the new awareness for the necessity of improved indoor air quality in our homes and workplaces, we need to stress the importance of keeping cooling systems clean. All technicians have serviced residential systems that were incredibly dirty. So dirty, in fact, that they were disgusting to work on. Considering that the air we breathe has been transported through this filth, it should not be difficult to convince customers of the need to clean their units. I like to actually show my customers their systems while I have them apart and let them see for themselves. That alone often sells the customer on a contract for regularly scheduled service.
There are also advantages to the contractor and technician:
This is pretty obvious. Preseason service brings in more work and added income.
Preseason service can be scheduled to be performed during slower times of the week or month, whereas emergency service cannot.
Unlike emergency service calls, technicians can take more time to discuss the operation and maintenance of the system with the customer. Actually showing the customer the dirt flowing out of the condenser while washing it out is pretty strong evidence to the customer of the need to regularly service the system. Technicians who take the time to communicate with their customers are building trust for a continued business relationship.
Preseason service is not only a good time to increase system efficiency, increase comfort, decrease the operating cost, and reduce the potential for future problems, but it is also a time to build customer trust and begin planting the seed for a future replacement sale. Even an older, well maintained 8 SEER system is a candidate for an upgrade to a new 12, 14, 16, or better replacement.
When given the scoop on the potential for energy savings with a new higher SEER system, some customers are ready to make the upgrade. Many customers are more comfortable with their technician than with a salesperson, so preseason service is also an opportunity for a sale.
Once a customer actually sees the dirt removed from their system and the technician actually takes the time to discuss how the preseason service benefits them, the potential for the sale of a service contract is much greater. Good technician communication with the customer is key.
Each technician should take time to learn these customer benefits and be prepared to clearly explain them to each customer on every call. Remember, even the heating service calls we get are ideal opportunities to sell customers on preseason air conditioning service.
What Does Preseason A/C Service Consist Of?
This checklist is general in nature and may be modified to match the type of equipment serviced.
Before You Leave
Note: Contractors or service managers should use this article as a guide for one of your service meetings with your technicians. Do so now before the warm weather arrives and before the summer heat has you too busy servicing air conditioning systems to even hold a service meeting.
Norm Christopherson is a former HVACR instructor, a technical writer, and a seminar presenter. He is currently seeking seminar and training opportunities. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: 04/05/2004