Studies have shown that regular HVAC maintenance can reduce the costs of heating and cooling by 5-40%, depending on the home. If this isn’t incentive enough to get interested in HVAC maintenance, this is also a great way to find minor faults. When an HVAC technician is working on your system, they can locate those smaller issues before they develop into larger problems that can be very expensive to fix. In this article, we have put together five HVAC maintenance tips for your system.
- Check the Air Filter
This is one of the most important HVAC maintenance tasks. Anyone can do it without special training, and yet most people don’t do this regularly. The air filter is an important component of your entire HVAC system, and it needs to be kept clean and clear. Many people think that the air filter is needed to remove airborne particulates to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ). To a certain extent, this is true, but it isn’t the primary function of the air filter. Removing particulates from the air prevents them from coming into contact with other sensitive components in the HVAC system. When these parts get coated with dust and dirt, they can become less efficient and even more prone to failure. Less dust and dirt in the air also reduces the frequency of dusting in your home.
If the air filter is clogged, it will prevent the flow of air through the entire system. Every HVAC system relies on a steady supply of air to function properly. When the air cannot pass through a clogged air filter, the HVAC equipment will attempt to compensate and work harder. Overworked equipment is more likely to fail, and parts will wear out quickly, leading to an earlier than expected replacement. When an HVAC system is working too hard, it also consumes more energy leading to a higher than expected utility bill.
Check your air filter every month. The location will be shown in the owner’s manual for your HVAC system. If you have a filter that needs replacement take out the old one and put a new one in that has the exact same model number on the rim. If you have an air filter that can be cleaned, simply wash it in warm water and dry it thoroughly before you replace it. If you want cleaner air, you can invest in an air filter with a higher minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating. But, get some advice from your local HVAC specialist first, or you may inhibit the airflow and cause some of the problems mentioned earlier. It’s a good idea to check the air filter every month or more often if you have pets in your home.
- Outdoor Debris Cleaning
The outdoor unit of your air conditioning system is where the heat that is removed from your home is dissipated. If this unit is surrounded or covered with debris, it will work less efficiently and be more prone to failure. If you have trees or shrubs growing nearby, they can reduce the volume of airflow that the system needs, which can lead to problems, such as: overheating, component failure, and a loss of energy efficiency. If you have any items stored around or on the outdoor unit, they need to be relocated. Plant growth in the area should be trimmed back, and any twigs or leaves in the outdoor unit must be removed. Then you’re ready to clean the outdoor unit.
To start cleaning your air conditioning outdoor unit, you will need a hose with a water sprayer, protective goggles, rubber gloves, and an air conditioner coil cleaner. Shut-off the power to the outdoor unit and then spray away any remaining debris from the outer casing of the unit. The apply the coil cleaner to the outside unit and wait for 15 minutes to allow the foam cleaner to bond with the dirt. Then rinse the area clean and allow the unit to dry naturally before you restore the power. If you’re not sure about tackling the cleaning yourself, contact your local HVAC specialist, and they will do it for you.
- Cleaning the Coils
If the condenser coils are dirty, the cooling efficiency may be lowered. This leads to a lower level of performance and higher energy bills. When the coils are clean, they will improve the IAQ and cool your home using less energy. But, condenser coils are a sensitive component. They can be easily damaged if you don’t have specialized training. Don’t attempt to clean the coils yourself. It’s a better idea to get them checked by an HVAC technician instead. Inspecting and cleaning the coils is usually included in an annual maintenance checkup which is a great way to keep your HVAC system operating at peak efficiency.
- Improving Airflow
As we mentioned earlier, maximizing the airflow to your HVAC system will ensure that it’s operating efficiently. You can improve the airflow yourself, check the vents and registers for dust and dirt and keep them clean. It’s a good idea to avoid closing more than 20% of your registers, even in rooms that you’re not using. This will reduce the strain on your HVAC system and lower your energy bills. Make sure that you don’t block vents and registers with heavy drapes, tall furniture, and other items that may impede the airflow.
- Regular HVAC Maintenance
An HVAC system represents a significant investment in your home comfort, and it makes good sense to protect it. The best way to do this is to schedule some regular seasonal maintenance with your local HVAC company. Ideally, you should schedule the maintenance for 1-2 months ahead of that season. As an example: schedule your air conditioning maintenance for 1-2 before summer arrives. This will put you ahead of the curve and ensure that your system is ready for those higher demand months ahead. Regular maintenance extends the useful lifespan of your heating and cooling equipment. This is also an excellent way to maintain and even improve the energy efficiency to lower your energy bills. Well maintained equipment is less likely to fail when you need extra peace of mind.
If you want to learn more about regular HVAC maintenance for your system, contact your local certified and licensed heating and cooling specialist today.