Keeping Things in Shape: The Top HVAC Maintenance Tips
Your HVAC system is key to maintaining an inviting and comfortable atmosphere in your home. If it goes down, you’ll lose control of your home’s climate. For this reason, you need to do everything in your power to ensure that your HVAC system runs at optimal levels.
The question you might have is, “how do you keep an HVAC system running properly?” There is a great deal involved in HVAC maintenance. Both your furnace and your air conditioner will require specific upkeep on a regular basis.
Below, we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of heating and air maintenance. Let’s begin!
Basic HVAC Maintenance
First, we’ll focus in on standard, basic HVAC upkeep. This maintenance is beneficial toward both your cooling and heating system. It includes the following.
Change the Filter
If there’s any sole form of maintenance that you’re going to perform on your HVAC system, it should be changing its filter. HVAC air filters are key to keeping airborne dust, debris, and other particles out of your HVAC system. If they’re not changed on a regular basis, the HVAC systems to which they’re attached will suffer in terms of efficiency and functionality.
While it can vary, as a general rule of thumb, you should change your HVAC air filter every 2 to 3 months. Note, though, that if you have pets in your home, a change might be needed every month.
Wipe Down Registers
Not only do you want to prevent dust and debris from making their way into your furnace and air conditioner, but into your duct system as well. Should debris makes its way into your duct system, it will start to compromise its functionality and efficiency. Not only will you be spending more money for conditioned air, but you’ll be receiving it less consistently.
This is why, every time you clean your home, you should vacuum your air registers. By doing so, you should be able to prevent substantial amounts of dust from making its way into your ducts.
Schedule Professional Inspections
Regardless of how well you take care of your HVAC system, you’re still advised to schedule professional HVAC inspections on a yearly basis. A professional HVAC technician will offer an experienced set of eyes, catching small problems which could potentially turn into big problems. If need be, he or she will also be able to carry out repairs.
Failing to schedule regular inspections can cost you in the long run, forcing you to pay for large repairs that you otherwise could have avoided with inspections. In essence, while inspections will cost you some money in the short-term, they will ultimately save you money over time.
Now, we’re going to get into the specifics of furnace maintenance. The tips below deal with gas furnaces, specifically.
Take a Look at the Pilot Light
A furnace’s pilot light is absolutely vital to its overall functionality. This light is used to create heat within the furnace and must stay lit in order to serve its purpose.
Ideally, the pilot light in your furnace will burn a light, but bright blue color. If it’s displaying a different color, it has likely encountered a problem of some kind. These problems run the gamut from minor to severe and come sometimes even indicate a safety hazard.
In particular, if your pilot light is yellow, you could have a big problem on your hands. A yellow pilot light is often indicative of a carbon monoxide leak. Allowing such a leak to persist could have major negative repercussions on the health of you and your family.
If your pilot light is yellow, bring in an HVAC technician as soon as possible. This is not a problem that you want to play around with.
Look for Flue Pipe Problems
In order to operate, gas furnaces must ignite a variety of substances. Once these substances ignite, they create potentially harmful gases. If not properly disposed of, these gases can pose a problem.
So, how do furnaces get rid of these gases? With the use of a flue pipe. The flue pipe leads from the furnace to the outside of the home in which the furnace exists, filtering out all toxic gases.
Unfortunately, over time, flue pipes can rust. Should this occur, toxic gases will start to leak into the home.
For this reason, you need to keep a close watch on your flue pipe. If it’s rusted or displaying holes, you need to have it repaired ASAP.
Check the Thermocouple
One of the most important components in a furnace is the thermocouple. This component sits next to the pilot light and is used to indicate whether or not the pilot light is still burning. Should it detect that the pilot light is no longer burning, it will cause the gas valve to stop flowing.
Unless . . . the thermocouple is dirty. If it’s too dirty, it won’t be able to properly gauge the pilot light. In other words, it won’t be able to perform its intended function.
This is why you need to check your furnace thermocouple every couple of months. If it’s clean, it’s sufficient for continued use. If it’s dirty, it will need to be changed.
Clean the Furnace
Over time, a furnace is bound to get dirty. This is just a natural part of furnace use. Unfortunately, a dirty furnace is also an inefficient furnace.
Because of this, you must take measures to keep your furnace clean. The blower and blower blades, in particular, will need to be scrubbed clean of residue. It’s a good idea to clean this component at least once a year.
Air Conditioning Maintenance
If you use central air in your home, you’ll have quite a few maintenance responsibilities to tend to. Those responsibilities include the following.
Keep the Area Around the Condenser Clear
Because it exists outside, your air conditioner condenser is in a constant state of vulnerability. Over time, it can become surrounded by everything from plants, to stones, to sticks, and more. These entities not only disturb the efficiency of your air conditioner but the functionality of your air conditioner as well.
This is why you must make attempts to keep your condenser clear of these entities. Every month or so, you should make a concerted effort to trim plants and pick up unwanted items. When doing so, provide your condenser with at least 3 feet of space.
Look for Leaks
In order for an air conditioner to function, it requires a regular stream of refrigerant. Unfortunately, refrigerant leaks do happen, specifically when air conditioner refrigerant lines are met with physical trauma.
If you notice a liquid sitting in the area around your condenser, you’ll need to have your AC refrigerant line patched up as soon as possible. If you don’t patch up the leak, your air conditioner will continue to not blow cold air.
Clean the Coils
Over time, the evaporator and condenser coils within an air conditioner take on residue. The more residue that inundates these coils, the more poorly the air conditioner will perform.
This is why you need to clean the coils in your air conditioner on a regular basis. To complete this task, you’ll need a hose, a brush, and a specifically-designed coil cleaner. Try to clean your coils every year or so.
Straighten the Fins
Connected to your air conditioner’s evaporator coil is a series of small “fins” or metal stips. Ideally, these fins will be straight and unbent, assisting in the climate exchange process. Unfortunately, over time, they tend to curl and become misaligned.
For this reason, you must manually straighten them on a regular basis. Your best bet for doing this is to use a fin comb. This is a small tool which can be easily run over the fins in just a short amount of time.
Unclog the Condensate Drain
When air conditioners operate, they create a good deal of moisture. Because this moisture has to end up somewhere, it ends up in a component known as a condensate drain.
Unfortunately, over time, this moisture turns forms mold and other types of mildew. After enough time has elapsed, mold and mildew will start to clog the drain, resulting in overflows and causing the air conditioner to turn off involuntarily.
How do you combat this problem? By unclogging the condensate drain with a wet/dry vacuum.
Place the wet/dry vacuum over the condensate drain line. Duct tape it on so that it’s perfectly sealed. Then, let it run for about an hour or so.
In most cases, this will produce the result that you want. Your drain will remain clear for the foreseeable future. If it doesn’t produce the desired result, you’re advised to bring in an experienced HVAC technician to complete the task.
Need Help With HVAC Maintenance in Seattle?
Don’t have the time or wherewithal to complete HVAC maintenance on your own? If not, you should bring in a professional to help you with the task.
Looking for a professional HVAC company in the Seattle area? Fischer Heating and Air have you covered.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment!