Your HVAC system is what keeps you cool in the spring and summer months and warm in the fall and winter.
You might not know what in the world it stands for – heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, in case you were wondering – but you can certainly take steps on your own to keep it in good working order. While repairs should be left to the pros, there are several things you can do to avoid a visit from the pros altogether.
Clean and Replace Your Air Filter
Whether you are a new homeowner or a seasoned pro, it’s not uncommon to forget to check and replace the air filter or not realize you need to do it in the first place. However, air filters have an important job to do, and they need to be able to do it well. When you raise or lower the temperature in your home, your HVAC unit pulls air in over the coils to cool or heat it and then blows it back out. When air is pulled in, it passes through your air filter, which traps dust, dirt, and allergens to prevent them from clogging your system and dispersing throughout your home.
A good rule of thumb is to change your filter every three months, but you may want to shorten this if you have pets or kids, or you notice the air not blowing out properly. Changing your filter is easy, but it is very important that you have the correct filter size so that air flows through it properly rather than squeezing through cracks around it. For a quick tutorial on how to change your air filter, check out this guide courtesy of HomeTips.com.
Give Your Outdoor Unit Some TLC
If you have an outdoor unit, it is exposed to the elements and can become quite dirty, which can reduce its efficiency, leading to higher energy consumption and HVAC bills. To clean your unit, start by removing the filter. Wash it if it is reusable or replace it altogether. Before you begin cleaning the unit, make sure to turn the power off by flipping the breaker. Using a screwdriver, remove the top panel so that you can access the coils and fan blades inside. There are two coils that are responsible for the efficiency or your unit: the evaporator coil and the condenser coil.
According to Arista, the importance of a clean coil can be summed up with this one statistic: “If 1/100th of an inch of dirt and grime accumulates on your air conditioner’s condenser coil, efficiency will decline by 5-percent.” Dust, dirt, and debris can easily accumulate on your coils, making your system work harder than it should. Use a shop vacuum to remove the built-up debris, and wipe the fan blades with a wet rag. If you notice the fins on the condenser coils are bent, use a fin comb to straighten the blades. You can purchase a fin comb via air conditioner wholesalers, as well as online or at your local hardware store.
When to Call the Pros
DIY HVAC maintenance is a great way to save money and avoid having to call in a professional, but there are some instances where bringing in a pro is the right call. To put it simply, anything other than cleaning and very basic maintenance requires a professional’s touch. The following are common problems that are out of your scope:
● Indoor fan or outdoor unit that runs nonstop
● Outdoor unit making rattling, hissing, or otherwise loud noise beyond the norm
● Water leaks
● Failure to heat or cool your home properly
However, professionals are handy for more than just when problems arise. A yearly visit from your local HVAC pro can ensure that your refrigerant is at the appropriate level, leaks aren’t present, the wiring is correct, and the unit is working efficiently.
Your entire home requires regular maintenance, and your HVAC system is included. Check and replace your filters and clean your outdoor unit regularly for a system that meets your needs and expectations. However, when in doubt, call a professional!
This is a guest post written by Ray Flynn, a civil engineer and co-creator along with Bret Engle of DIYGuys dot net.