Air conditioning maintenance prolongs the life of the equipment and reduces energy consumption. A well-maintained system is efficient, less expensive to operate and improves indoor quality. This guide provides HVAC maintenance tips to help homeowners get their systems ready for the summer.
Some digital thermostats use batteries to power the display unit and save programming data during power failures. Older batteries can fail or corrode and leak acid, which damages the thermostat. Homeowners should change the batteries at least once a year.
Whole-house air conditioners use filters to prevent airborne particles from entering the system to accumulate on fans, blower motors, heating and cooling coils and other system components. They also enhance the quality of indoor air by removing dust, pollen, pet dander, dust mites and other airborne allergens. Their ability to perform these tasks depends upon the type and size of filters as well as how often they are changed or cleaned. The air inside a home circulates through the filters of a properly sized air conditioning system based on fan selection at the thermostat. Clogged filters restrict airflow and cause the system to work harder. The result is higher energy consumption and utility bills.
The typical filter is a one-inch thick, disposable panel, but manufacturers also produce models that are up to four inches thick. The filter is installed in the return vent, which is located on the ceiling or in the wall. It may also be located in the indoor air handler housing. Filters are available in fiberglass or a tightly woven, pleated fabric. Generally, see-through air filters are inefficient because their loose, open weave patterns allow a high volume of microscopic particles to enter the system and circulate throughout the house. Changing or cleaning air filters on a regular basis will improve indoor air quality. Most homeowner system maintenance guides recommend that owners change disposable filters at least once per month. A trained service technician can clean and inspect a system equipped with an electrostatic air-purifying unit.
Homeowners can prevent the growth of mold and other microbial matter within their condensation drain lines. Turn off the circuit breaker if any wires are connected to the access port. Open the drain line port, and slowly pour in a bleach and water or vinegar solution. Repeat this process every two to three months. Clearing an obstructed drain line will require the assistance of a professional air conditioning service technician.
Before performing any air conditioning maintenance, homeowners should turn off the power to the HVAC unit. The unit is controlled by a circuit breaker or electrical quick disconnect located in a metal electrical housing near the outside unit. Restore power when the service is finished. The outside unit requires proper airflow to efficiently dissipate heat. If the coils are blocked, the unit can over heat and burnout prematurely. Use a garden hose to rinse away any dirt and debris from the fins of the coil. An up and down motion follows the path of the blades on the coil and reduces the risk that the water pressure will bend the thin metal. Sweep away any debris that has accumulated near the housing to ensure that the unit has at least three feet of space around each side. Protect the exterior surfaces of the housing by applying a mixture of wax and rust inhibitor.
Professional Air Conditioning Maintenance
An air conditioning servicetechnician can charge refrigerant if necessary and inspect crucial components, such as the compressor, motors, belts, relays and coils. HVAC systems lose 5 percent of their efficiency each year without professional maintenance. Regular maintenance keeps the system operating at peak efficiency, which protects the equipment and significantly reduces operating costs, especially during the summer heat. Getting an annual tune-up for your home comfort system is just as important as tuning up your car!