Make your air-con work for you

Insider tips on troubleshooting and caring for your air-conditioner.

With Singapore’s hot and humid weather, the air-conditioner is something most households cannot do without. In
some homes, the air-conditioners get cranked up all day and night. With such heavy usage, they need proper care
and maintenance to make them last longer. So how can we care for our air-conditioners? We get advice
from Li Guorong, Gain City’s Air-con Specialist, who has more than 13 years of experience under his belt.

Q: How often should I service my air-con?
Generally, for newly-installed units, we recommend carrying out servicing every six months within the first year of installation. For units that are more than a year old and are in operation for at least 8 hours daily, for example the air-con in the master bedroom, we recommend servicing every 3 to 4 months. For units that are used only occasionally, servicing
can still be done every 6 months.


Q: What is involved in a regular servicing?
For regular servicing, we will first remove the front panel to access the inside of the unit. We then remove the air filter, the blower and water tray and so forth, and do systematic examination and cleaning of all parts. As dirt accumulated in the drainage pipe will form “jelly” when in contact with drainage water and cause blockage, we will also vacuum the drainage
pipe. We also check on all electrical components and the compressor. For units that are more than a year old and heavily
used (more than 10 hours every day), it is highly chemical wash every one to two years depending on the condition of the unit.

Q: What might happen if I don't get my air-con unit serviced regularly?

Skipping regular service may cause the FCU (fan coil unit) to become dirty, resulting in blockage. Subsequently, the aircon
system will have to work harder to achieve the desired temperature and this means higher electricity consumption
and, ultimately, a higher electricity bill. The blockage may also cause water leakage and cause the compressor to rust easily.
What is even worse is that it may shorten the lifespan of the compressor.



Q: Can I do my own air-con maintenance?
Yes, you may perform a cleaning of the outer panel and air filter yourself. However, we do not recommend cleaning the
FCU and other components yourself as it is complicated. It is best to leave the job to a professional.

Q: Why is my air-con leaking water? What should I do to address this problem?
Water leakage can be caused by a dirty FCU or blockage in the drainage pipe due to the “jelly" formed. In such situations, you have to get a professional to do a servicing. Another possible reason is low fan speed. We notice many customers
often set the temperature at 25 degrees Celsius but set the fan speed to “low". This can cause heavy condensation on the
copper piping due to low temperatures on the copper pipe. To avoid condensation, set the fan speed higher.

Q: Why does my air-con unit smell bad sometimes?
In many cases, this is due to lack of proper air circulation in the room, resulting in high humidity which can encourage the growth of mildew. As residential aircon units do not have fresh air inlet, if we eat or smoke in an air-conditioned room,
the smell of food or cigarette smoke, combined with mildew and dirt from the FCU will cause a bad smell when we run the air-con.

Q: Why is my air-conditioner not cooling?
If the air-con is not cooling even when set at a lower temperature, chances are there is a problem with the FCU and you will need to get a professional to check and find the root cause.

Q: I mainly use the air-con during the hotter months. How can I get it ready for this heavy usage period?
In Singapore, the hotter months are between March to August every year. We recommend that you carry out regular servicing before the start of the hotter months. In the other months when the air-con is not used regularly, it is highly
recommended that the aircon be turned on at least once a month and left to run for at least 20 minutes, so as to keep the unit functioning properly. Opt for regular servicing when you feel that the air-con is not cooling as expected.

Q: Why is the light on my air-con unit flashing?
At times like these, you will need a professional air-con technician to check out the unit to see what the problem is. We always advise our customers to take a video of the flashing light. We can actually identify the root cause based on the frequency of the flashing light. The flashing light can be the air-con’s way of telling you that it needs to be serviced
or it can be due to a pre-set timing to remind its owner to clean the unit.

Q: Can I leave doors and windows open while my air-conditioner is turned on?
No, because this will actually cause more problems than skipping regular servicing. Allowing the cool air to escape
means that the FCU will not be able to achieve the desired room temperature. This will cause stress to the compressor as it
has to run at high speed in order to achieve the desired room temperature. Not only will this result in high power consumption, the unit will also emit more noise and this may eventually shorten the lifespan of the compressor.
The compressor is akin to the heart of the airconditioner and changing it is complicated and costly.

Q: Any other advice?
Getting a warranty plan for your newly-installed airconditioners can save you lots of money in the long run. Gain City has three types of warranty plans which run from five to eight years, covering unlimited repair, parts and labour and
product replacement. My colleagues and I find these plans so worthwhile that we recommend them to our family and friends too!