We’ve all been enjoying the spring weather, but temperatures are quickly rising, and soon, the sweltering summer heat will be upon us. Regardless of if you’ve been using your A/C system already, it’s important to get it ready for higher temperatures and higher demands.
Just like any expensive piece of machinery, your HVAC system requires professional maintenance and some regular TLC on your part. Considering that around 50% of your home’s total energy consumption goes toward heating and cooling the home, it’s especially important to pay attention to its health and efficiency.
Start by turning on your air conditioner. You don’t want to wait until the first really hot day of the year to see if the A/C is working. That’s what most people do, which leads to heavy demand and long waiting times. Avoid the wait by finding out if you have a problem now.
A clean HVAC filter will prevent dust and dirt from building up in your HVAC system and ductwork. This will reduce the amount of airborne contaminants in your home and improve the efficiency and lifespan of your HVAC system.
It’s recommended that you change your HVAC filter every 30-60 days, but that depends on a variety of factors. During peak use months, you should replace them more often. If you are running your HVAC system every day, then you probably need a new HVAC filter every 30 days. Filter change times will also depend on how many pets you have and how frequently you clean the home.
In order to check the condition of your filter, hold it up to the light and see if any light can pass though. If light can easily pass through the filter, you can probably wait another 15 days or so. If the light is very dim or seems to be blocked by a lot of dust and dirt, then you should probably change your filter as soon as possible.
Wait no longer than 90 days to replace your filter. Set calendar and phone reminders so you never forget this important home maintenance task.
Over the winter, your outdoor heat pump could have been damaged. Before you start using your air conditioning system, it’s important to check the area around your outdoor heat pump.
If there are a lot of leaves, grass clippings, dirt, and other debris around your heat pump’s condenser coils, airflow will be severely restricted, causing your system to work a lot harder than it needs to.
It’s important to regularly clear off debris from your outdoor condenser unit, especially if there was a recent big storm. If you decide to clean your heat pump yourself, make sure you turn the system off first! Usually, there is a shut-off switch or fuse near the heat pump. If you cannot find it, turn the heat pump off at the breaker box. Test to make sure that power has been turned off before attempting to remove any objects or clean the condenser fins.
Once power is off, put on work gloves and remove any debris from the heat pump with you hand. You can also clean your outdoor condenser unit with a regular water hose. It won’t damage your unit and can help clean off the smaller bits of dirt and debris that may be stuck in your coils. Just be careful not to bend the fins.
Dirty and clogged heat pumps can decrease energy efficiency by up to 60%. Cleaning your condenser coils can save you around 10-25% off your heating and cooling costs. If you have the right tools and are feeling up to the task, you can clean your heat pump coil, however, we recommend hiring a professional for the task.
Although most HVAC companies include condenser coil cleanings as part of their annual maintenance appointment, it’s a good idea to double-check.
In addition to cleaning the heat pump fins and coils, it’s important to maintain a minimum 2-foot clearance around the entire unit. The common culprit for restricted airflow is encroaching bushes and plants.
Trim back any bushes or plants that are getting too close and prune back tree branches that are directly above the unit. Not only will this protect the unit from falling leaves and debris, but it will also prevent the possibility of a tree branch falling and damaging the unit.
One of the most common HVAC problems that homeowners have is that they haven’t set their thermostat properly. If you aren’t experiencing any heating or cooling for your central air system, check the thermostat first.
Is it set to “heat” or “cool”? Is the temperature setting lower or higher than the room temperature? Are there any heat-producing appliances or sunlight giving your thermostat false readings? Does the thermostat battery need to be replaced?
If you have any questions about how to set your install your programmable thermostat for maximum energy savings, don’t hesitate to contact your heating and cooling experts.
Besides remembering to change your filter every 30-60 days, the other crucial element for maintaining your HVAC system is to schedule regular professional tune-ups from a qualified HVAC technician.
The most important aspect of this regular seasonal visit is prevention. Your HVAC technician will be able to tell you if there are any developing problems in your existing system and if you could benefit from any easy repairs and improvements.
Just remember that HVAC technicians get busy during the peak months and extremely hot and cold days. If you want to have your technician available, remember to schedule your HVAC tune-ups early. We recommend scheduling your professional air conditioning tune-up in the early spring months and your heating tune-up in the early fall months.
Another good reminder is Daylight Saving Time each spring and fall. When you set your clocks back or forward, it’s also a great time to schedule your professional heating and cooling appointments.
Contact OnTime Service for your next air conditioning tune-up and increase energy efficiency levels by up to 30%. A little time and attention now can save you a lot of headaches later.
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Give us a call at 205-942-1405 or contact us online to schedule your HVAC, electrical, and plumbing inspections.