Year-round comfort is essential for families thoughout Southwest Missouri.
That means keeping your heating and cooling system in shape is a top priority. While a set-it-and-forget-it approach may be tempting, a little extra attention can pay off in terms of lower costs and a healthier indoor environment.
Just like a regular oil change keeps your car humming along, proactive home HVAC maintenance has many benefits. The good news is there are many simple things you can do to keep your system in good condition. On top of that, regular professional service helps you find and fix small glitches early, before they turn into big headaches down the road.
Benefits of Maintaining Your HVAC System
Did you know that over 40% of the typical home energy bill goes to heating and cooling? The more efficiently your system runs, the less it will cost you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
Here are a few other reasons why maintaining your HVAC is a smart investment:
- Enjoy a healthy indoor environment: Clearing out dust and dirt helps you breathe easier. This is especially important for folks with allergies and other respiratory conditions, and for households with furry friends.
- Your system will last longer: Delay the hassle and expense of replacing your current system by keeping it running smoothly for years.
- Fewer emergencies: The last thing you need is a breakdown in the dead of winter or the dog days of summer. A pre-season tune-up makes this less likely to happen.
- Safety: A properly functioning HVAC system lowers the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and other hazards.
Changing Filters Regularly
Dirty air filters impede airflow, forcing your system to work much harder than it should. The consequences include lower efficiency, higher utility bills and greater wear and tear, which reduces the lifespan of your system.
A general rule of thumb is to replace your air filter every three months. However, some filters should be changed more or less often depending on individual circumstances. Thicker, specially designed filters can sometimes last longer. At the other end of the scale, households with pets and/or allergy sufferers may need fresh filters more often.
Routine Inspections & Repairs
Get in the habit of checking your HVAC equipment for possible issues. Noticing these tell-tale signs may indicate it’s time to contact your technician for advice.
- Check your outdoor compressor for bent or crushed fins. Examine the concrete pad underneath to make sure the unit isn’t sinking, which may strain tubes and electrical lines and cause water to puddle.
- Check for leaks. Items to look at include condensate lines, refrigerant lines, drain lines and exhaust flues.
- Look for water puddling around the furnace when the air conditioner is running. This may be a sign of clogged drain tubes. Condensation contains bacteria that forms a yucky slime, which clogs the drain tube and degrades performance.
- Check for damaged or rotten insulation around outdoor lines, and replace as necessary.
- Check all moving parts for loose fittings, and tighten up where needed. Examples include blower fans and belts.
Your outdoor condenser unit works less efficiently when it becomes clogged with dirt, grass clippings and other debris. After turning off power to the unit, vacuum the exterior fins with a soft brush attachment. Temporarily remove the fan to clean the inside of the unit. Remove leaves and other debris, and use a hose to clean the fins from the inside out.
It’s also a good idea to vacuum dust and dirt from your indoor evaporator unit. Flush the drain tube with a bleach-water solution in a 1:16 ratio. Use a pipe cleaner to clear any debris from the drain port.
You can also clean your air vents with a vacuum cleaner, using the hose extension to reach it if needed. Remove the vent registers to clean more thoroughly with a damp cloth, and vacuum inside of the duct before replacing the register. Check for healthy air flow in between cleanings.
Regular Professional Service
Professional service helps to identify potential problems and make more complex repairs. It can also extend the life of your equipment and reduce operating costs. Your provider will let you know when it’s time to schedule heating and cooling tune-ups in the spring and fall.
During your spring tune-up, your technician will make sure your air conditioner is ready for summer, including pressure switches, thermostat operation, compressor, condensate drain and voltage. Spring is also a good time to clean condenser coils, clean the electrical area, lubricate moving parts and adjust belt tension as necessary.
Your fall visit will prepare your furnace for the winter. Items to inspect include the heat exchanger, blower wheel, heat strips and flue. The technician will check for safety hazards like carbon monoxide and gas leaks. Service also includes cleaning and adjusting the furnace, air handler, pilot assemblies and burners.
Other Helpful Fixes
Finally, here are some extra things you can do around the house to help your HVAC system run more efficiently and save some money.
- Use your ceiling fans to give your air conditioner a helping hand.
- Worn-out insulation and weather stripping make it harder on your system. Keep an eye on them and replace as needed.
- Close the shades on hot, sunny days to block unnecessary heat gain. Let the sun in during the winter to make things easier on your furnace.
- Install a programmable thermostat to control indoor temperature more efficiently.
At Lorenz Plumbing Heating & Air, our technicians work with you to keep your HVAC system working properly. If you need information on affordable maintenance plans, give us a call at 417-863-1122 or reach out online at any time.