By keeping your heating and cooling system maintained, you will be doing more than just saving money on your energy bills; you will also be extending the lifespan of the system, which then saves you money on having to replace it too soon. HVAC systems need attention on a regular basis to ensure that they are operating at the highest levels of efficiency. The systems we will be talking about today are the central heating and cooling systems that have both an interior (evaporator coil) and an exterior (condenser) unit. In other words, a heat pump unit or a whole home air conditioning unit.
Both the condenser and the evaporator will be sealed. For that reason, a professional HVAC service technician needs to be called for any type of maintenance that goes beyond simple cleaning. These types of systems should be inspected and adjusted professionally at the beginning of each heating and cooling season. That being said, don’t think that your maintenance begins and ends with this checkup. No, there aren’t too many repairs that you will be able to make yourself, but there are a few maintenance procedures that you can do in order to make sure that your system remains working at peak efficiency.
Remember to turn your unit off before you do any maintenance to it.
This is so important and it should be common sense, but you might be surprised at how many people don’t do this. Your heating and cooling system has a filter and that filter needs to be changed on a regular basis… usually about every 3 months. The purpose of this filter is to protect the internal machinations of the system from particles and dust that could cause quite a bit of damage to the working parts of the system. Once this filter gets clogged, it can block the flow of air to those parts and that is not a good thing either because it causes the efficiency to not be as good as it should be and your system will have to work harder to do the same job.
Another part of maintaining your air conditioner has to do with keeping the coils clean. The condenser and evaporator coils tend to collect dust and grime throughout the year. Having a filter that is clean will assist in preventing the evaporator coils from becoming too dirty to fast. Even so, over the passage of time, it will still manage to collect dirt. This dirt will reduce the flow of air while it also insulates the coil, which will reduce its ability to absorb any heat. If you want to avoid this situation, and you should, check the coil on the evaporator on a yearly basis and clean it when it is needed.
When it comes to the coils on the condenser (the outside unit), these can also get quite dirty. This is especially true if the environment is one in which there is foliage close to it or if it is in a dusty area. You can see the condenser coil easily and will be able to tell by looking at it if dirt has collected on the fins. To avoid it becoming dirty too quickly, you can minimize the debris and dirt that is close to the unit. Lawn mowers, falling leaves, and even dryer vents can be sources of this debris and dirt. Making sure that the area around the unit is free from debris and trimming any greenery back to a minimum of 2 feet from the system will allow for the adequate amounts of air to get to the condenser.
Check the Pipes
Now that you have cleaned the coils, you can power the unit back on. Listen for any types of strange noises that can be indicative of wear and or damage. Locate the insulated pipes for the system and after it has been running for about 10 minutes, pull back the insulation and feel it. It should feel a bit cool to the touch. If it doesn’t, there is something wrong with the system and you will need to call in a professional who will more than likely need to add a bit of refrigerant to the system.