How often should I service my aircon?

If servicing is defined as removal of dust from the aircon covers and filters, it depends on how dusty the environment is and how often you use your aircon.

I’ve been in this industry for more almost 20 years. I’ve seen aircon that needs no servicing even after 10years, because it hasn’t been used at all or used just a few times only.

If the filters are dirty, just wash them, you can easily do it yourself.

However, please bear in mind that the aircon fan coil and blower can become wet and very wet when the aircon is cold and especially so after shut down. If your environment has starch/protein/oil particles in the air, it get circulated through the aircon system repeatedly and after many long hours of usage and after several months or years, it will have enough bio-deposits to attract mold and bacteria to break these bio-deposit down. Since the aircon is a wet environment, it can easily support the mold and bacteria colony. Aircon that is used for 8-10 hours daily, can become bacteria and mold infested as soon as 1 year. How fast bacteria and mold shows up depends on the level of bio-deposits, heat sources and level of cross ventilation. An interesting fact to note is from this video that you’ve just seen (by clicking on the link above) is taken from an aircon that was only in use for 1 year. Another interesting fact is that despite so clogged up, the aircon did not experience water dripping issues. The aircon is in such a terrible state within just 1 year is because the occupant have kept the windows shut all of the time because of child safety concerns and mosquito concerns. This matter was made worst due to cooking activities in the house and the cooking fume enters the rooms and have no chance of escaping. Aircon water dripping is largely due to blockage of the drain pipe, Therefore, if the aircon drain pipe is set up very efficiently, water flows out quickly and do not stagnate and block the drain pipe. The video we’ve just seen was taken from an old landed property , the water pipe was buried in the concrete. It runs vertically downwards upon leaving the aircon before finding its way out from the attached bathrrom’s floor tray thats only a meter away. Most HDB and modern condomimium runs the water pipe horizontally for a few meters (some more than 5 meters) before running it vertically downwards to discharge the water into floor traps. The horizontal section have very slow flow rate and if your aircon has those sticky jelly liked substance, it clogs up. However, if your aircon don’t have those sticky jelly liked bacteria biofilm, you will not experience aircon dripping problem.

If you diffuse scented oil, burn scented candles, use perfume diffusers, be it in the attached bathroom or in the room itself, it will release lots of bio-deposits, your aircon can become moldy and bacteria infested as soon as 6-8 months (some even shorter interval). Since these are mold and bacteria, if you attempt to remove them by general servicing, which is vacuuming. You will end up dislodging mold and causing them to become air borne. You will start to move the bacteria around and spread it over a much large surface area and they will multiply. “Servicing interval” the aircon keeps getting shorter and shorter, averaging at once every 3 months. But please don’t do this, the air quality is getting from bad to worst and occupants may start to fall sick. If you think that you are regularly servicing the aircon and they are clean, how wrong can that be! If occupants keeps falling sick despite having a “really clean” aircon, most tuns to alternative products like the use of essential oil to treat the running nose and cough issues. This resulted in an even moldier and bacteria infested system. So you start to invest in an air purifiers and dehumidifiers and constantly keep the room shut, and this makes matters worst, isn’t it?.

The root of all aircon problem is simple.

First, bio-deposits. Family that cooks releases starch, protein and oil into the aircon, these are nutrient rich particles. Use of scented oil, candles and diffusers also contribute to release of oil particles.

Secondly, heat sources. Rooms that are inherently hot is like a laboratory incubator, bacteria and mold grows very quickly. When you are out for work and no one is home, the windows are shut to keep out the rain, burglars and mosquitoes. The sunlight shines through the windows and heats up the room and the heat doesn’t escape. You are not at home during these times and it doesn’t bother you. However, the bacteria and mold is having their summer holiday, multiplies very quickly when it is hot.

Thirdly, water trapped in the aircon fan coil and blower. This is very easy to manage. Companies like Daikin recognise this problem and introduced aircon with a “mold proof” function, what it does is that when you turn off the aircon, the louver does not shut fully and the fan will run for the next 2 hours. This is the move effective way to dry up the fan coil and blower. If your aircon doesn’t come with such feature, you can manually set it to fan mode and run it for a couple of hours every time you turn off the aircon. Running a dehumidifier doesn’t work as well as running a fan mode. A dehumidifier is effective to pull moisture out from the air. But inside the aircon fan coil and blower, those are already condensed water droplets. A dehumidifier is not effective in removing water. Rather, it is wind that does a fantastic job.

How often you need to service your aircon must be properly defined too. If servicing is defined as removal of dust, then just visually check your filters. Every environment is different, if its dusty , wash the filters, simple as it is.

However, if servicing is defined as mold and bacteria control, it depends on how much bio-deposits you are releasing into your space. Cross ventilation is utmost important, keep doors and windows opened at all times whenever it is possible to do so. This is the most effective way to reduce bio-deposit. Air purifier does a terrible job. The smaller the article size, the tighter must be the filters and slower rate of removal. Air purifiers often can’t remove enough before you turn on your aircon and the aircon always outruns the air purifier. By exchanging the air in the room is the best option.

Well ventilated place with little or no bio-deposit may only require a thorough disinfection service once every 1-2 years. Not well ventilated places will average at once every 6 – 8 months. Extreme cases where usage is high, more than 12 hours daily, lots of bio-deposits and with hot rooms and not well ventilated, may require proper disinfection once every 3 months.

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