Winter is a few weeks away and among the many other things you will think about at this time of year, the state of your HVAC system is likely to be near the top of your list. The last thing you need is to grapple with a frigid home because your furnace is not working as it should.
One would imagine that HVAC contractors look forward to such problems because that is how they make their money. But contractors also benefit when their clients are more knowledgeable. Here are some of the most important things your HVAC contractor wishes you knew.
1. Obstruction Lowers Efficiency
Your HVAC’s outdoor unit “perspires” from the sides and top. That is why HVAC manufacturers and technicians usually recommend that the outdoor unit have at least 2 feet of space around it.
You may have done that when the unit was first installed, but as the months and years go by, shrubs, tree branches, and other debris can encroach on the space. These will block the airflow and thereby reduce the condenser’s efficiency.
Schedule regular cleaning and clearing around the outdoor cabinet so the air flows as freely as it was designed to.
2. Service the Units Regularly
Your car and other mechanical equipment require regular servicing to ensure smooth operations. The same routine applies to your HVAC unit. Get a qualified technician to check out your coils, refrigerant level and clear out any dirt hidden from sight.
Find out if there’s a leak from your furnace’s heat exchange to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
How often your HVAC unit should be serviced depends on the manufacturer’s recommendation, the age of the unit, and the area’s air quality. In general, older units have to be serviced more often.
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3. Change Filters Monthly
Changing air filters is perhaps one of the most important maintenance activities you can do for your HVAC on your own. While most people understand the need to do this, the main problem is remembering to change the filters when it’s time. There are a number of ways you can get around that.
One would be to set a reminder on your phone. The other is to sign up for a replacement parts subscription service that will have the filters delivered at the frequency you ask for. Air filters differ, so make sure you order the type and size that your unit requires.
Ensure the filters are installed correctly as well. An arrow on the side indicates the correct direction of airflow.
4. Watch for Unusual Sounds, Sights, and Smells
You may not have the qualifications of an HVAC contractor. But one thing you do possess is the ability to pick up signs that things are not as they normally are. Like any other appliance, deterioration of an HVAC unit is often accompanied by changes in sound, smell, and appearance.
Watch for unusual odors immediately when you turn on the unit that could signal it needs cleaning and/or repair. When dirt and debris are trapped in your HVAC system, it will start to smell musty or feel stuffy. If you sense this, check for water leaks as these may trigger the growth of mildew.
Look for any blockages caused by the accumulation of pollen or leaves. Find out if there are any stains in the return air grills. Examine for debris blown out of the floor registers. Check if the ductwork is leaking.
5. Spring and Fall Are the Best Times for Upgrades or Repairs
When the hottest weeks of the year strike, it is officially boom time for HVAC contractors. Trying to get your unit checked and repaired during this time of year will usually mean enduring a long queue.
Spring is most ideal, though the fall also works if you are trying to get your unit in shape before the winter sets in. It’s all about getting the timing right to ensure you get your contractor on site quickly.
The More You Know
The more you know about keeping your HVAC running smoothly, the longer the system’s life expectancy will be. Not to mention, the more you can do on your own means fewer calls to your HVAC contractor – meaning cost savings and less hassle for you.