Air Conditioning maintenance tips from the pros

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Air Conditioning maintenance tips from the pros
Engine Room
Keeping Your Cool
Air conditioning maintenance tips from the pros
Dometic Marine’s EnviroComfort
kit has everything needed for a
professional installation on boats
with or without an existing air
conditioning system. It comes
complete with all the parts from
pumps to seawater intake to grill.
Is
the heat getting to you? Self-contained air-conditioning
the Southeast’s largest Dometic air conditioning distributors,
systems can be a Godsend for the owners of boats
with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Florida, and in
under 60 feet, especially in Southern climes. Mounted on a
Savannah, Georgia. “There are some basic checks that should
single chassis, they fit neatly beneath a berth or settee. While
be carried out regularly to ensure continued operation, though,
air conditioning systems are offered as standard or optional
and these are unblocking, cleaning and securing.”
equipment on many new smaller cabin boats these days, if
When air conditioning problems occur, the most common
your vessel does not have one, a wide range of aftermarket kits
causes are related to the water flow or air flow. “With seawater
are available complete with everything needed for installation.
cooling systems, debris can often clog the system and if
These systems control both temperature and humidity inside the
unchecked, can reduce the heat exchange and seawater flow,
boat, as well as removing moisture from the air and preventing
which will eventually lead to system failure,” Dianne says.
dampness, rot and mold.
“There are several warning signs that you can look for,” Scott
“The systems are seawater-cooled and work by absorbing
adds. “The system may be having trouble cooling, cycling on
heat from the air and transferring it into the seawater, which
and off frequently; the cooling unit could be throwing water
circulates through the unit,” said Dianne Keller, director of
out of the discharge grill, or there may be visible debris in the
aftermarket sales for Dometic Marine, the world’s largest
unit.”
supplier of marine air-conditioning systems through its wellknown Cruisair, Marine Air and Condaria brands.
If water flow is the problem, it is likely that parts of the
system are fouled with mud, barnacles or something else
While self-contained air conditioning systems are easy to
picked up from the sea, and this is restricting the flow. To
install onboard, you can’t just “set them and forget them.” The
avoid a block and maintain peak performance, Dometic
experts advise performing a few routine maintenance chores
recommends regularly checking the seawater strainer, which
to keep them functioning correctly.
is located between the seawater intake valve and pump.
“In general, self-contained air conditioning systems are
As debris can accumulate and grow even when your boat
very easy to use and maintain,” said Scott Beard, general
is not in use, you should check the strainer daily no matter
manager of Beard Marine Group in Fort Lauderdale, one of
how often you take the boat out. The strainer can be cleaned
36 • SOUTHERN BOATING • July 2011
by using lots of fresh water and high pressure to loosen
debris. Not openly visible on deck, the strainer can often be
forgotten, so make a conscious effort to clean and unblock
it if necessary.
“Also, ensure the proper amount of air is being circulated,”
Scott says. “A good quality air filter that is fitted correctly will
protect your system from dirt and debris that can restrict air
flow. If it is not changed or cleaned regularly, system capacity
will be reduced.”
Another maintenance tip is to regularly check the
condensate pan. “It is where the humidity goes when it is
pulled from the air during the cooling process,” Dianne says.
“This is one of the easiest air conditioning maintenance tasks.
First, check that there is no debris blocking the drain outlet,
then pour water into the pan to test that the water flow is
functioning properly. It should drain away quickly.”
Beard adds: “A final check of the system’s hoses, fixings
and electrical connections should be carried out in case of
leaks or loose fixings.” Following these basic steps will help
you to ensure that your air conditioning system is in full
working order. Should more serious problems arise, seek
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advice from your boat’s air conditioning system manufacturer
or a professional service dealer.
For a full list of Dometic Marine dealers, visit dometic.
com/marinedealers.
Self-contained air conditioning units
are ideal for smaller boats because
they are compact and fit under a
berth or in a locker. Two or more
units can be used to cool different
zones with individual controls.
July 2011 • SOUTHERN BOATING • 37

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