Preparing Your HVAC Systems for the Fall

Friday, August 28th, 2015

If you are like most people, you have been relying on your air conditioning to keep you cool for the hot summer. With fall just around the corner, however, it may be time to start thinking about preparing your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems for the winter months. After a long summer, your air conditioner needs to be ready for a season of disuse.

 

Importance of Fall MaintenanceFall Leaf

Just like any piece of home equipment, your HVAC systems require regular maintenance to keep them running efficiently and effectively. There are many reasons to make sure that your AC and heating system are properly serviced for next year.

  • Keeps your system running efficiently: Even if you have not been regularly servicing your HVAC systems, there are several things that you can do to keep your AC and heating system running smoothly. For example, maintaining the condenser, or the part of the unit that sits outside, is incredibly easy and will guarantee that your unit is running at its maximum efficiency. However, there are portions of your AC and heater that you cannot access, so it is recommended that a professional visually inspects your unit before the next summer season starts.
  • Regular tune-ups make your HVAC systems trustworthy: By keeping your HVAC units properly serviced, you can count on your systems to work for you when you need them most.
  • Regular maintenance protects your investment in your home: HVAC systems are incredibly expensive and can cost upwards of $10,000 or even more if your system needs to be replaced, depending on who you buy from. By having your systems properly serviced, they’ll last far longer.
  • Makes your home more efficient: When your unit is running at maximum capacity, not only is it saving you money, but it is also consuming less energy.

 

Preparing Your HVAC Systems for Fall

 

While it is hard to believe that summer is almost over and the cold weather is just around the corner, now is the time to prepare your HVAC systems. By performing this maintenance early, you’ll be ready to take on that first cold night, no matter when it hits.

  • Check the filters: While your heater and air conditioning unit are in use, the filters should be changed or cleaned monthly depending upon the type of filter your systems use. If you did not change the filter before you last used your furnace, it is recommended to switch it out and start out the fall and winter seasons with a fresh one.
  • Clear the side vent: If you have a high efficiency furnace, you will have a side vent leading to the outside of your home. This should be located about three feet or so above the foundation line of your home. Make sure the area around your vent is clear to keep the air moving freely.
  • Inspect the area around your furnace: Before turning your furnace on, it is a good idea to ensure that the area around your furnace is clear. This will help keep your furnace from becoming overheated. In addition, this can be used as an opportunity to ensure that there are no flammables located anywhere near your furnace, as these materials can pose serious safety risks.
  • Yearly inspection: One of the most important things that you can do to keep your HVAC systems running smoothly is to call your trusted HVAC inspector before each heating and cooling season begins. While these inspections will help care for the parts of your systems that you do not have access to, the professional can also notify you and fix any potential problems before they cause permanent damage.

Your HVAC systems are a huge financial investment. By properly maintaining your systems and keeping them running smoothly, you’ll ensure that your systems have a long life ahead of them.

 

Preparing Your Central AC for the Cooling Season Part 1

Friday, April 17th, 2015

After sitting unused through the winter months, your air conditioning unit will need a thorough cleaning to make it run efficiently. It is highly recommended that your unit receive an annual checkup from your local HVAC professional, as only they can check the coolant levels and electrical components. For the most efficient service, call before the cooling season begins.

Otherwise, a thorough cleaning of your basic air conditioning components will guarantee that your unit will be running at full efficiency at the beginning of the cooling season. Continuing basic maintenance throughout the season will help to keep your unit working properly through the heat of the summer while keeping your energy bills low.

Before beginning any cleaning on your unit, make sure that the power to the air conditioner has been turned off.

Air Conditioner Basics: Components

Outdoor air conditioner units are comprised an evaporator and a condenser. The condenser is located outside the home while the evaporator sits above the furnace inside.

The condenser contains a fan, which pulls air into the unit. The air passes through cooling fins and reduces the temperature of a special coolant, which is then pushed by the compressor into the evaporator. Once inside the evaporator, the coolant chills the tubes. Warm air is pulled through the house and into the evaporator by the blower, where it is cooled by the chilled tubes. Condensation is drained out of the evaporator through a tube, which connects to a floor drain.

General Cleaning and Maintenance of the Condenser:

Trane AC Cutaway

As a quick reminder, the power to the air conditioning unit should always be turned off before you begin any routine maintenance or cleaning.

Since the condenser fan pulls outdoor air through the cooling fins, the unit often becomes clogged with dust, dirt and other organic debris. This causes your unit to work less efficiently by blocking the air flow. Thus, the grille and cooling fins are the main focus when servicing your condenser.

  • Clear the area of any leaf litter and debris surrounding the condenser. Make sure to pull any twigs, leaves and grass clippings from the grille. Using a soft brush attachment, vacuum up any dust, seeds and pollen from the exterior cooling fins. In some newer models, the cooling fins are housed behind a metal box, which will need to be unscrewed and removed to reach the fins.
  • The cooling fins are fragile and bend easily. If you notice any bent fins, a fin comb can be used to straighten them. Fin combs can be found at any store that sells appliance parts.
  •  Unscrew the fan in order to vacuum any debris that may have found its way into the interior of the condenser. The fan will still be attached to the condenser by a number of wires, so you may need to recruit an extra set of hands to hold the fan while you clean the interior.
  •  Hose down the cooling fins. Always make sure to direct the spray from the inside out so that none of the electrical components get wet.
  •  If you have an older model, check for lubrication ports on the fan motor. Add a few drops of electric motor oil to the ports. If the bearings are sealed, no lubrication is required. Replace the fan.

Next post: General Cleaning and Maintenance of the Evaporator Coil and Cleaning or Replacing the Filter