That first January blizzard is no time to discover your furnace’s shortcomings. And we’re sure you’d prefer your air conditioning system not self-destruct with the first major heatwave of summer.
One of the keys to being able to depend on your HVAC system when you need it most is to perform routine maintenance during the off-season. Below are components of your HVAC system you should be extra attentive to.
Some of these steps you can easily undertake yourself. For others, you’ll want to be sure to hire certified technicians who can do the work right.
- Check thermostat settings - Your home should be comfortable when it’s occupied, but at minimal output, while the family’s away. According to the U.S. Department of Energy1, a home can conserve energy by dialing down to a high of about 68°F while present and awake and down 7-10° from that high when asleep or away. In the summertime, keep the thermostat no cooler than 78° when present, and higher when away.
- Make sure all electrical connections are tightened to measure motor voltage and current - Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe system operation and reduce the life of major components.
- Lubricate all moving parts - Friction boosts the amount of electricity used to run your HVAC system and increase wear and tear on those parts. Proper lubrication of system components can help reduce the odds of a middle-of-the-night phone call for service on a broken-down furnace.
- Check the condensate drain on your central air conditioner, furnace and heat pump - A plugged drain might cause water damage in the home and affect indoor humidity levels.
- Inspect system controls to ensure safe and proper operation - This involves checking the starting cycle for assurance that the system is starting, operating and shutting off properly.
- Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils - This can help keep your AC unit operating at peak performance, contain energy costs and increase the life of the system.
- Check refrigerant level and adjust as necessary - Too much or too little refrigerant can make your AC system run at less than optimal efficiency and reduce the life of the system.
- Clean and adjust blower components - This will help provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.
- Check gas or oil connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger - A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently. Other related problems can cause fire hazards.
- Inspect, clean or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump - A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.
As mentioned, some of these tips are easy enough to do yourself. But in other cases, make sure it’s on the checklist of the technician you call in to service your HVAC system at least once a year. Doing so will help assure the energy- and cost-efficient performance of your heating and cooling system when you need it most.
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