Home Inspector's tips to care for your central air conditioning system?

Home Inspector with Morrison Home Inspections, Inc.

First let me begin by explaining how your central air conditioning system is installed.  Most people don't realize systems today are actually split systems.  The first half of the system is the compressor, which is located outside, usually at the rear or side of the home.  The second half are the cooling coils and blower, which is located at the furnace.   Yes, the furnace and A/C system share the same blower, which circulates the air through your home.  The furnace/blower is typically located at an interior closet, garage, attic and or basement areas.  If your home doesn't have a furnace you may have an air conditioner which can work in reverse, this type of system is called a heat pump.  A heat pump looks just like a regular split A/C system, but instead of having a furnace; you only have the cooling coils and blower.

The refrigerate cycles through the system from the compressor to the cooling coils and back again.  Condensate or water builds up in the housing, which houses the cooling coils.  This water must drain to the exterior or a drain (usually underneath the bathroom sink).   The drain lines for the condensate are typically white PVC pipes.  There should always be a primary and an alternate condensate drain line, just in case the primary clogs.  If your furnace and cooling coils are located in the attic and the drain line clogs, you may experience leaking and water damage at the ceiling or walls.  Even if the cooling coils are located above furnace in the garage, leaking can damage the furnace.  This is why it is a good idea for you learn which drain line is your alternate.  For example, if you see water dripping from the alternate, then you know the primary is clogged.  Always call for service before the alternate clogs and damage occurs.  You can ask you're A/C contractor to identify the alternate.  Often times the primary and alternate are connected or the alternate is not even installed.  If this is the case, correction is recommended.

Here are some basic things to consider regarding the compressor, which is located outside.  Make sure this unit is level and elevated 3 inches above the ground on a platform.  This will help prevent the unit from rusting or corrosion from the bottom.  Also make sure it is at least 6 to 12 inches from any walls or obstructions, to allow for adequate air flow.  If the air flow around the compressor is inadequate, it can affect the efficiency of the unit.  The last thing anyone wants is a higher electrical bill, due to personal items or vegetation growing on the compressor.

As always change your air filters once every 3 months and service the system once annually. 

Article courtesy of Duane Morrison, Morrison Home Inspections


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Linda Alexander Sacramento 08/25/2009 11:58 PM
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Yvette Gardner
Keller Williams Realty, Spartanburg, SC - Spartanburg, SC

Welcome to the Active Rain community and congratulations on your first post.  Below is a link that may help you get started.  Hope to see more of your blogs soon.  All our best, Yvette & Dennis


Aug 05, 2009 11:53 PM #1
Duane Morrison
Morrison Home Inspections, Inc. - Glendora, CA

Thanks, I am looking forward to being a member.

Best Regards,  Duane

Aug 06, 2009 03:39 AM #2
Jean Terry
Keller Williams Realty Spartanburg, S.C. - Spartanburg, SC

Hi and welcome to Active Rain, a great site to network, share, learn, and have fun. Good luck. And if you ever need an agent in the upstate of South Carolina, please call me.

Aug 06, 2009 02:48 PM #3
The Trumm Team Omaha Homes for Sale, Real Estate
Keller Williams Greater Omaha - Omaha, NE

Welcome to ActiveRain!

If you would like a few tips on getting the most out of ActiveRain, just click search and type in "Welcome to Activerain by Troy Trumm". The first link returned will take you to my blog about getting started. It has a few simple steps of what to do now that you have joined.

If you ever have any questions, just let me know.

Troy Trumm, Trumm Team, Omaha NE

Aug 08, 2009 02:25 AM #4
Lanora Campbell
NMLS#232975 - Springfield, MO
Ozarks Home Loan Professional

Lanora Campbell, Senior Loan Officer

Duane,  this is a great article and should be very helpful to the consumer.  I also wanted to Welcome you to Active Rain.... You will find some of the most helpful people right here in the Network on Active Rain.  Have fun at it and if you ever find that you need a Loan Officer in Springfield, MO. give me a call.

Lanora M. Campbell, Senior Loan Officer, Mid Nation Mortgage

Cell:  417-844-4012

Aug 10, 2009 02:34 AM #5

Those are good tips however, they don't always have an alternate drain line. That is why you need to flush your line and your alternate if it has it, everytime you service the system. The system should be serviced at least once a year. This is just another reason I preach switching to geothermal. With the exception of filter changes, they are virtually maintenance free. Here is a great example of geothermal http://geothermalexperts.net/residential_systems.html .

Aug 17, 2009 10:33 AM #6
Linda Alexander Sacramento
Sacramento, CA

Hi Duane,

My house was built in 1955 without CH&A.  It had a wall AC and a wall heater, common for this tract of homes.  Mom & dad upgraded to CH&A.  The installer put flexible shafts throughout the crawl space between the roof and ceiling.

Last winter, the ceiling started dripping when it rained.  Now I have a big mess and will have to replace the sheet rock.  I'm waiting because I want to add 320 sq ft at the back of my house.  I will be increasing it from 994 sf to 1314.  This will make a back bedroom into a master and I will create a second bathroom.  The kitchen and dining area will be expanded and the laundry equipment will be relocated from the garage into the house behind closet doors.  I will also put up a pergola just outside the MBR with a ceiling fan, misters and flagstone on the ground.  Margaritas and a BBQ anyone?

Because of the age of the house I will have to deal with lead based paint, perhaps mold, and insulation.  Optimally, I would like to take the AC unit OFF the roof and put it on the ground in the back yard.

Do you think this is financially feasible?  I would like to put solar panels on the roof.  We get LOTS of sun in Sacramento.  Are there any incentives for converting from the older AC equipment to a new unit? I also want to put in a tankless water heater.  I am NOT an ECO-Nazi, I just think it makes better sense for this "one planet" where we all live.

As mentioned earlier, I am in Sacramento by the California State Fair.  If you are in the neighborhood, give me a call if you need directions or want to know about this area.

Oh, any referrals would be appreciated too.

Regards, Linda Alexander land_acquisitions@yahoo.com


Aug 25, 2009 11:49 PM #7
Letitia Stevenson
BHHS Fox & Roach | www.DelawareValleyRE.com - Greenville, DE
Listing Agent DE/PA/MD, Digital Marketer & Coach

Hi Duane, Welcome to Active Rain! Active Rain is a great place to share your knowledge, expertise and thoughts, as well as network and learn so much from the vast pool of talent already onboard.

Welcome Aboard and Much Success!

Aug 31, 2009 12:22 AM #8
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