An air conditionerâ€™s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance to work efficiently and properly. You have to maintain these few things in order to get the years of service that you need and deserve from the unit in which you have invested your money.Â Neglecting these few steps will cause a steady declineÂ in performanceâ€”costing you money. Also, your comfort level will decreaseÂ because your unit is struggling to reach peak performance potential to enable it to work efficiently and properly.
One of the most important things to check on your HVAC unit is your filter. Clogged and dirty air filters will block the flow of air through your unit causing a significant drop in your system’s performance. With the air flow being blocked by dirt and debris, the air that comes through the filter can carry the dust and debris directly to the evaporator coil causing a big drop in performance. Keeping your air conditioner filters clean can lower your unitâ€™s energy consumption by 5%-15%. For central air units, the filters are generally located somewhere along the air return ducts. They are sometimes found in walls, ceilings, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself. Room air conditioners have the filter mounted on the front of the unit behind the front grill. Some types of filters are reusable; others have to be replaced. The more your unit runs, the more often you need to check the filters. Filters are rated by a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The higher the MERV number, the more effective the filter will be at keeping dirt out of your system.
Your air conditioner evaporator coil and condenser coil can collect dirt over years of usage. A clean filter will delay this accumulation, but in time, the coil will still collect dirtâ€”reducing the air flow and reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, you need to check the coil at least once a year. A good time of year to do this is in the spring when you do your spring cleanup from the winter that has just ended.
Outdoor condenser units need the same type of attention. You can easily check the coil to see if dirt is collecting on the fins. Check with your local home improvement store or HVAC expert to see if they have a cleaner available for these coils. The aluminum fins on evaporator and condensing coils can easily become bent and prevent air from moving through them. Air conditioner supply stores sell a tool called a â€œfin combâ€ that will move or â€œcombâ€ these fins closer to their original position.
These units also have a condensate drain that can become clogged. Clogged drains prevent the unit from reducing humidity, therefore, sending more moisture into your home. You can occasionally send a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels to prevent them from clogging.
These are just a few things that you can do to help bring your HVAC unit closer to peak performance to help you save moneyÂ and conserve energy at the same time.
Your air conditioning unit is exposed to all sorts of weather and the elements. You can be exposing your air conditioning unit to harmful substances during the spring and summer months.Â As harmless as it sounds, mowing your lawn can be harmful to the health of your air conditioning unit. Newly cut grass can be sucked into the unit and cause clogs that greatly reduce the air flow for your air conditioning unit. The best thing that you can do is turn your air conditioning unit completely off before you begin to mow your lawn. This will prevent the need to call a heating and air repair technician later.
If you are not using a bag to collect your grass as you mow, the grass flies through the air and lands on the air conditioning unit. Grass adheres to the unit and must be removed. During the spring, pollen collects faster than the grass grows, and it builds up in the air conditioner condenser also. If the pollen is pulled into the unit along with the grass, the reduced air flow will cause the condenser to have to work harder. After you are finished mowing, find your water hose and use the highest setting for the water pressure. Wash the air conditioning unit to clean the condenser and rid the unit of the grass and pollen residue. If the gunk is not removed, it will overwork your condenser and will reduce the life span of your unit.
Washing this gunk away will extend the life of your air conditioning unit. After a long hot day of mowing the grass, indulge yourself with the cool water from the water hose as it splashes back toward you from the air conditioning unit. You can play a bit in the water and do something good for your pocketbook at the same time. This will reduce the need for your heating and air technician to come out and professionally clean your unit for you. You will find that your unit works better and cools much faster than it has in the past when it has been covered with debris and gunk. Be a helper for your air conditioning unit; you will reap the benefits of your hard work both inside with a cooled house and in paying a reduced utility bill later.
Time to Investigate
Do you know what is in your attic? The best time to climb into your attic to investigate is during the Â winter months. You will find that the unconditioned atticâ€™s temperature will be more bearable during winter than it will ever be during the summer months.
What You Might Find
If your home is built on a concrete pad foundation, you are going to find your heating and air ductwork in the attic. Ductwork is the veins and arteries of the air flow system that provides heated or cooled air to the living space in your home.Â Ductwork is sealed and is most likely wrapped in insulation in your attic. In older homes, ductwork can leak causing warm or cold air to escape into the attic before it reaches your living space.Â If your unit is working properly, but you are having issues heating or cooling your home, leaky ductwork may be the culprit.
A common cause of leaky ductwork is attic invasion. If you are hearing noises in your attic and your homeâ€™s temperature is not comfortable, you might have unwanted and uninvited guests living up there. Squirrels and raccoons are common attic invaders. Squirrels most often enter from the roofline during the end of winter to build new nests. They are known to damage ductwork and electrical wiring. However, the raccoons tend to wreak much more havoc by destroying insulation and all of the ductwork. These invaders must be removed by trapping and physically removing them, and then the damaged ductwork must be repaired by trained technicians.
January is the time for pest prevention in your attic. You should check for entry points and close them off with wire.Â Uncovered vents of any kind on the roof are perfect access points for squirrels. Wire is the best deterrent because the varmints cannot chew through it to make their own way inside. Once you have your attic pest-proof, you will be able to rest comfortably knowing that your ductwork and electrical wiring is safe.
There are two types of furnace replacements: emergency replacement and planned replacement. The good news is that furnaces have lengthy life spans and that they can be used year after year without replacement. If your unit has been heating all of your homeâ€™s living space, then you are in a position to keep the unit that is already installed and in use.
If you choose to keep the furnace that is already installed until it fails beyond repair, you will be faced with emergency furnace replacement. This occurs when your heater fails during normal use on a winter day or night, and you call out the heating and air technician. The technician looks it over and determines that the old furnace must go and a new one must take its place. You will be faced with choices on a deadline because you will want to have the fastest fix. Also, you will find with emergency replacement that calling out a service technician after hours or on a holiday is much more expensive than a planned service call during normal business hours.
To avoid the extra expense of emergency replacement, you can plan ahead.
It may be in your best interest to plan a replacement to avoid the hassle and expense of the emergency replacement. The following are four tips for knowing if a planned replacement is in order this year:
- Furnace Age – If your furnace is between 16 and 25 years old, you might want to start planning for a replacement. The average life span of a furnace is 20 years. If you have had no problems requiring replacement parts, your furnace could last longer, but if your furnace has already been repaired frequently, you might want to start working a furnace replacement into your budget for the New Year.
- Replacement Parts – If you have had work done on your furnace during the past two winters, you might want to start budgeting for a new furnace. Newer furnaces will be cheaper in the long run because you will not have to keep adding parts like you would to an older one to keep it running.Â Older furnaces that have problems often need replacement parts; sometimes, older furnaces need parts that are hard to find, and those harder-to-find parts are many times more expensive.
- Winter Weather – If the parts are hard to find, it can be a long cold wait for them to arrive. This is another reason to schedule a replacement.
- Carbon Monoxide – If you have a carbon monoxide detector that is alarming, or if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms only at home or are experiencing frequent headaches, nausea, or burning eyes or nose, then you need to have your old furnace repaired or replaced immediately. Open windows and evacuate before calling your service technician.