NATIONAL REPORT—To maintain the energy efficiency of PTACs and to extend their life, it is important to implement a preventive maintenance program.
“The internal filter should be cleaned once a month and once a year the entire unit should be removed from the wall so that the coils can be cleaned,” says Mel Harris, PTAC business development manager for LG Electronics Inc., Englewood, N.J. “The compressor will have to work harder if the PTAC is dirty. A dirty unit will also use more energy.”
Be sure to purchase a PTAC that can be easily cleaned. The filter should be easily removed and the coils easily accessible. In newer PTACs, coils can be tightly packed and become filters themselves. That is why frequent cleaning is important. Coils that do not allow air flow become less energy efficient.
Tom Guffey, vice president of sales for Amana’s PTAC division, a part of Houston-based Goodman Co. L.P., says it is especially important to implement a preventive maintenance program when new PTACs are purchased. If they are not properly cleaned and maintained right off the bat, they will forever run inefficiently.
“Because the newer PTAC models are more efficient, they have to be tuned and maintained more often,” Guffey says. “Newer products are more readily damaged by heat. Heat is more prevalent if you do not keep your coils clean. Clean the filter, the evaporator coil, and the condenser coil.”
Like Harris, Guffey recommends cleaning the evaporator filter every 30 days. Be mindful of environmental considerations that may cause the PTAC to require more frequent cleaning. These could include bugs, tree seeds, and even dust if there is new construction taking place close to the hotel.
“Be careful of vegetation,” Guffey says. “Without enough space between the PTAC and the plant, the PTAC will suck back in the hot air it is emitting. The closest plant should be three feet away.”
In addition to factors related to unit size and efficiency, it is also important to consider warranty and service options when purchasing PTACs. Inevitably, they will break down. Be sure to identify a local service provider that is part of the manufacturer’s service network.
Maintained properly, PTACs can last more than 10 years but Jane Deming, manager, marketing services for Friedrich Air Conditioning, San Antonio, Texas, says a life span of about seven years is average. To reduce the initial cost of purchase, contact the local utility company and ask about rebate programs for PTACs with EERs of 10 or above. In California, for example, rebates can range from $60 to $100 a unit.
If you need to replace a full PTAC unit after a repair doesn’t go as hoped, you can also consider purchasing a refurbished unit. They’re often available with a warranty at a cheaper price.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.