You might be surprised to learn about the extensive benefits of spring HVAC system maintenance. A combination of easy do-it-yourself steps, coupled with a precision HVAC tuneup, will help prepare your A/C or heat pump for a long summer of efficient and comfortable cooling. First we’ll start with steps you can do yourself.
DIY HVAC System Maintenance
- Change the air filter. Look at the filter every month and if it looks dirty or clogged, change it or clean it, depending on the type you use. A dirty filter will restrict airflow, forcing the A/C or heat pump to work harder to satisfy the thermostat temperature. This can damage the compressor and air handler/blower motor. A dirty filter may also allow dirt and debris to cover sensitive HVAC components or blow past the filter and contaminate air being distributed to your rooms.
- Remove yard debris and other clutter away from the outside condenser/compressor. Leaves, weeds, sticks and other clutter can collect around the equipment and reduce necessary airflow through the coils. You might also consider cleaning the outside unit, both the fan motor, fan blades and coil, though this task you can leave for your HVAC professional.
- Remove rugs, drapes and furniture from HVAC registers and vents. If your forced-air system can’t circulate air as designed, it can’t effectively cool your home.
- Seal windows and doors. Use either new weatherstripping or caulk, depending on the gap or crack being sealed. Window sashes and door jambs need weatherstripping. Inspect your home’s outside envelope and use caulk or spray foam to seal holes and gaps, paying particular attention to spots where building materials meet, and penetrations for wiring, plumbing and vents.
- Check to make sure ceiling fans are set for counter-clockwise operation. Many homeowners switch the fan blades to clockwise rotation in the late fall. This pushes air upward in rooms to help redistribute warm air that collects near the ceiling. With the fan blades set for spring and summer operation (counter-clockwise), they’ll blow the air downward toward room occupants, creating a cooling wind chill effect. This takes some of the pressure off your A/C.
Professional HVAC System Maintenance
During a professional technician’s spring tuneup of your A/C or heat pump, he should perform the following tasks:
- Clean both the inside and outside coils of your split-system A/C or heat pump. Outside coils can collect dirt and dust, while inside coils are vulnerable to mold and bacteria. In either case, the coating of gunk on a coil will impede the heat exchange process that’s crucial for heat pump and A/C operation. Dirty coils will force the system to work harder to cool your home and may damage the compressor and air handler. When inside coils get contaminated with mold or bacteria, that can create a health hazard.
- Clean and lubricate all moving parts in mechanical components, including the air handler and compressor motors. When parts get dirty, it creates friction, requiring more energy to operate.
- Check and tighten electrical connections, cleaning terminals as needed.
- Measure the refrigerant level to make sure it meets precise manufacturer guidelines. If the refrigerant is low, the technician should recharge it, though not before inspecting the A/C or heat pump for refrigerant leaks. Refrigerant does its work in a closed system, so a low level either means it was under-filled in the first place or is leaking.
- Check and adjust system airflow. Any forced-air cooling or heating system requires a certain amount of airflow to operate optimally. Issues with the blower/air handler motor can affect airflow, as can a dirty air filter or blockages or leaks in the ductwork.
- Ductwork should be inspected for leaks or damage and repaired or replaced if necessary. Ducts running through unconditioned areas should be insulated. A home with leaky, uninsulated ducts can lose up to 30 percent of conditioned air before it arrives at its intended destination.
- Thermostats should be checked for proper operation and calibration. If the homeowner is confused about how to program a “smart” thermostat, the technician should review the process.
- System controls should be checked for proper operation. The technician should also check the component in a heat pump that reverses its mode from heating to cooling.
- If you have a dehumidifier or air purifier working in tandem with your A/C system, the technician should check these add-ons for proper operation.
Learn more about Griffith Energy Services, Inc.’s HVAC system maintenance services, or give us a call at 888-474-3391 to schedule an appointment for your home!
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