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Maintenance During Major Repairs
Every contractor is different. I get that.
We don't all need to do everything the same way or include the same services with repairs, but there are some “best practices” that can save you a lot of heartache before, during, and after you make a big repair.
Catch it During Diagnosis
Let's say you find a failed, shorted compressor on a 7-year-old system that still has manufacturer parts coverage. If you simply quote the compressor and leave, you may be missing many other maintenance-related issues that can affect operation once the compressor is replaced. A shortlist of items to check would be:
- Look at the accumulator for signs of corrosion.
- Perform an acid test to see if a burnout protocol should be employed. (Read more about burnouts HERE.)
- Check the air filter.
- Inspect the condenser coil's cleanliness.
- Look at the underside of the evaporator coil.
- Perform a static pressure test on the system to check for duct issues. (Read more about static pressure HERE.)
- Check the crankcase heater (if it has one). (Read more about crankcase heaters HERE.)
- Inspect the contactor.
- Check condenser fan and blower motor amps.
- Test all capacitors. (Here's an easy way to test capacitors.)
- Visually inspect wires and cap tubes.
- Check high-voltage electrical connections.
And this is just for cooling side issues. If the system is a fuel-burning appliance, you will inspect every part of the furnace operation.
- Condensate drainage
- Flame proving
And much more…
Testing all of these things is commonplace AFTER a repair. Still, it makes so much more sense to do it beforehand so that you can either charge appropriately for any of these items that need to be addressed or let the customer know you are including those items to differentiate you from the competition.
Things to Do Along With Major Repairs
There are a few things you need to do during major air conditioning or refrigeration repairs because they just make good sense to prevent callbacks. You can include them in the price or not, but either way, it will save you more than it costs to do it.
- Visually inspect the entire system for wiring damage, poor connections, excessive corrosion and refrigerant oil
- Clean the drain line and condensate pan. (Seriously, do this. Here's a guide.)
- Wash the condenser coil
- Clean the blower wheel if it is dirty. (Even if you've heard otherwise, you should still clean it if it's dirty.)
- Change the air filter
- Test all modes of operation
- Ensure system airflow is correct (at minimum look at blower settings and static pressure)
- Measure compressor and evaporator superheat
- Measure subcooling and ensure a proper refigerant charge
Do these things along with all the standard tests you perform to ensure that you have no issues and that whatever caused the fault in the system has been rectified. Being thorough will save you a lot of problems. When the customer spends a lot of money getting a system fixed, they don't want to turn around and have it fail for an “unrelated” reason.
While this list is clearly tailored to the residential and light commercial air conditioning market, every piece of equipment has its common maintenance items. So, what do you do whenever you make a major repair?