A packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (or PTAC) is most recognizable as a commercial unit found in hotel and motel rooms, as well as apartments. In fact, the unit can be installed in any home to provide both air conditioning and heat. That’s because PTAC units operate in the same manner as a heat pump. Like a heat pump, PTAC units have a reversing valve which can reverse the direction of the refrigerant being pumped through the unit’s condenser and evaporator coils. When the hot liquid refrigerant travels from the condenser coils to the evaporator coils, the refrigerant expands into a gas which makes the coils cold. A blower fan will draw air past the cold evaporator coils and force it through the unit’s vent to cool the interior of the house, apartment, or hotel room. When the reversing valve is activated, the refrigerant travels from the evaporator coils to the condenser coils where it is again condensed into a hot liquid. The heat that is dissipated when the unit is in its cooling mode will, instead, be forced through the front vent to warm the air in the room. To keep the PTAC unit cooling and heating as intended, there are a few simple maintenance steps you should follow. Just be sure the unit is turned off and the power supply is disconnected.
1Clean the air filters regularly
The most important thing you can do to maintain efficiency is to clean the air filters every thirty days. PTAC units normally have two air filters that can be easily removed by lifting them straight up out of the front panel. Vacuum off the heavy soil then run water through the filters. Be sure to allow the filters to dry before reinstalling them.
2Inspect and clean the condenser coils
To inspect and clean the condenser coils, the unit will need to be removed from the wall. To do this, you will need to remove the unit’s front panel and, potentially, disconnect the wall thermostat terminal connecter. Unthread the screws securing the unit to its sleeve and have an assistant help to pull the unit out of the sleeve. Carry the unit outdoors and unthread the screws to detach the fan housing. You can now use warm water and a mild detergent to clean the condenser coils, but never use a high-pressure spray. You can use a dedicated non-acidic solution to dissolve heavier soiling. Wearing gloves and eye protection, spray the solution into the coil fins from the bottom up. Wait three to five minutes, then flush the coils with fresh water.
3Keep the unit’s base pan free of debris
Over time, the PTAC unit’s base pan can become clogged with debris or residue build-up which can prevent the pan from draining the condensate properly. To help keep the pan clean and clog-free, you should place one or more specially-formulated gel tabs in the area most likely to collect condensate. The gel-tabs will also help eliminate odors, but keep in mind, they should be replaced with new ones every three months. With the maintenance complete, reinstall the unit by sliding it into the wall sleeve until the seal on the rear of the outside frame rests against the front of the sleeve. Secure the unit to the sleeve with the screws, but don’t over-tighten the screws. Reconnect the wall thermostat terminal connecter, if applicable, and replace the front panel. Once fully installed, restore power to the PTAC unit.