Types of air conditioning
In our Beijing home we use individual air-conditioners, wall-mounted, of the split air conditioner type. I don’t see anymore any of the window type. If you have a central air conditioning system you have less control on the air quality and maintenance is generally limited to clean the ducts, vents and collectors of condensation. If the condensation collection is dirty or badly installed (e.g. the water cannot drain easily and also the outlet tube is blocked), you can have fungus growing plus dripping from the ducts.
In our Beijing home most are of the Chinese brand HAIER and were installed around the year 2000.
For an overview of types of air conditioning systems: http://www.brighthubengineering.com/hvac/897-types-of-air-conditioning-systems/
Maintaining and cleaning challenges
We had a couple of breakdowns with the split air conditioner type, mostly because of old electric capacitors or low cooling gas levels.
In Beijing (I guess all over China), the external tubing is badly projected as they use that white tape that is not UV resistant and disintegrates after one year with the sunlight. I bought better tape in Belgium.
I have given up asking “repairmen” to clean the wall-mounted units. Parts that need cleaning are the filters (easy), the cylindrical fans (very difficult) and the collectors of condensation plus the piping to drain the condensation. Some workers injects a kind of foam in the units. Totally useless, does not clean and for months you still have foam coming out from somewhere.
The fan is a pain to reach and to clean. Despite the filters the fans collect dust that glues to the inside of the blades. That results often in fungus growing on it and vibration.
How I clean
I simply dismount as much as I can. removing the fan cylinder is however too difficult.
The most efficient cleaning method for the fan: using a strong spray of water with some detergent. Most of the dirt gets lose and drips out. A bit messy, so one needs to protect stuff around.
The aircon in my office, the one most used, is getting at its end. Reason: rather poorly designed axle support at the end of the fan cylinder: a tefal-like axle support that is worn out and is inside some rubber support, with the rubber giving up now. To get the spare part, forget it. Might be cheap but also impossible to find, so I guess after over 15 years it is time to buy a new one…
The pictures of the maintenance, two different rooms.
See the axle support piece of the office unit.
Two different repairs shown, in the library I could remove the unit from the wall (easier cleaning).
See the simple spray I used, also using a brush to clean the fins of the cooling unit.