For the most part, residential air conditioners and furnaces don’t require constant upkeep to maintain good working order. However, there are certain things you can do to keep your system running optimally throughout the year. By taking care of your heating, cooling and indoor air quality systems, you’ll save money – and feel more comfortable, too. Here are a few tips on what you can do:
Change air filters
HVAC filters keep your home comfortable by trapping dust, pollen, dander and other particles that damage sensitive heating and cooling systems. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and if you can’t find it there, consider these general guidelines.
Keep the outdoor unit clean
The main purpose of a condenser unit is to cool your home while it’s in use. The outdoor condensing unit, which looks like a cube with metal coils around the outside, needs to be free of debris, which can easily accumulate through grass clippings, falling leaves or dust. Some models have access panels on the side, so you can vacuum the coils and fan blades. If the model you have doesn’t have this option, you can use a hose to spray down the outside with light pressure (Figure A). Never use a power washer or blast water from a hose; this could cause damage to the unit.
Let the air flow
There is an ongoing debate among many builders as to whether or not it is advisable to close off the vents and doors to rooms in which you do not spend time. The answer is simple: as long as you live in a wall/single-family home, you should keep all ducts and vents open throughout your house to allow for proper airflow of the HVAC system. Closing off any room will lead to a buildup of moisture and static pressure inside the ducts. If you want to avoid mold from growing inside your HVAC system’s components, ensuring that the entire ductwork system has unobstructed airflow will prevent this from happening.
Clean duct grills
It’s important to take a proactive approach to air duct cleaning, which includes cleaning around the registers and grills at the opening of every air duct (chimney).
Keep discharge pipes open
A stopped up discharge pipe can lead to expensive repairs. Your AC unit also has a drip tube that runs to a drain in the floor. This needs to remain open and clear to prevent backup within the system. After a long, sometimes brutal, winter it can be very tempting to procrastinate cleaning your HVAC vents. But you must wait no longer. Spring is the perfect time for cleaning your home and your ducts are a part of this process.
All of the tips above have something in common — they’re all simple and easy to implement. These three approaches should be able to make any homeowner feel more confident in their ability to perform basic home repairs and maintenance. The key is consistency. A little preventative maintenance will go a long way in saving you money down the road. If you feel that you’re not capable or qualified to perform the tips listed above, it’s always best to call a certified contractor.