Your HVAC system is crucial for maintaining home comfort throughout the year. In a typical U.S. home, HVAC uses up to 48% of energy, says the Department of Energy. With regular DIY care like replacing air filters, you can cut AC energy use by 5-15%.
Knowing your HVAC parts and how to maintain them is essential. This keeps heating and cooling running smoothly. Let’s explore the easy steps any homeowner can take.
Change or Clean Filters Often
One big HVAC health item is your air filter. As air circulates, the filter grabs dust, dirt, pollen, and more. Over time, the filter clogs up. This blocks proper airflow. Experts say to change or clean filters every 1-3 months.
Replacing a dirty filter can lower energy use by 5-15%. It also improves indoor air quality by removing allergens and irritants. Find your filter and check it monthly. Replace disposable pleated filters. For reusable ones, remove and wash gently with warm water and mild detergent. Let filters air dry fully before putting them back.
Keep Vents and Registers Clean
For proper heating and cooling, air needs to flow freely through ducts and vents into each room. As part of regular HVAC checks, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down vents and registers. This removes built-up dust and debris.
Also check that vents are open and not blocked by furniture. Any clogs in ducts or vents will limit airflow. This makes your system work extra hard to keep you comfortable.
Maintain Your Outdoor Unit
The outdoor AC condenser unit is vital for heating and cooling. Make sure it has at least 2 feet of space all around so air can flow. Use a hose to spray out any dirt or debris in the fins or coils. Straighten any bent fins with a fin comb tool.
Check that the unit is level with the ground. If tilted, use shims to re-level it. A level position lets condensation drain right. Also trim any plants crowding the unit. Proper outdoor unit care improves efficiency.
Look for Blocked Ducts
Blocked ducts can significantly reduce your HVAC system’s effectiveness, which is especially important for HVAC installation in Dallas where the weather can be quite extreme. Restricted airflow means some rooms won’t get properly heated or cooled. Check ducts for kinks or crush spots. Also, look near vents for big dust buildups that could mean a clog.
You can fix minor blocks by detaching the duct and running a vacuum hose through to suck out debris. For major clogs or kinks, call a technician to see if duct replacement is needed. Keeping ducts clear improves indoor comfort.
Find and Fix Heating System Leaks
If your heater isn’t performing as it used to, thoroughly check for potential refrigerant leaks. Signs include cooler airflow even when running a while, longer run times, and higher bills as the system struggles to hold temperature.
Carefully inspect refrigerant lines for any oily residue, which can mean a small leak. Also look at joints and connections for corrosion signs. Check for ice on the lines when the AC is on – another leak clue.
Use a specialized spray or electronic detector to pinpoint any leak’s exact location. Some refrigerant detectors use ultrasound and fluorescent dye for better leak finding.
If you find a leak, call an HVAC technician right away. Refrigerant leaks should never be DIY repairs. Ignoring leaks lets air and moisture in, leading to damage and eventual failure. A pro can properly extract refrigerant and expertly fix leaks.
Leaks often happen due to loose fittings, corrosion, or physical damage to lines. A technician may recommend replacing old or corroded parts to prevent future leaks. Ensure refrigerant is properly recharged after repairs before turning your system back on. Fast leak fixes preserve your HVAC.
Maintain the Evaporator Coil and Drain
The evaporator coil working right is key for effective AC cooling. Dust on the coil reduces its ability to absorb heat. This strains the compressor and lowers cooling ability. Carefully clean the coil with a no-rinse foaming spray. Flush out the condensate drain line with a bleach and water solution to prevent algae.
Make evaporator coil maintenance part of your seasonal AC prep. A clean coil and drain optimizes cooling power.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
One of the most impactful efficiency steps is a programmable thermostat. It lets you set custom heating and cooling schedules that match when you’re home. This prevents wasting energy on an empty house.
Programmable thermostats can save homeowners about $180 per year on energy bills. Look for a model with auto changeover that switches between heating and cooling automatically as needed. Taking the time to set schedules will really improve your HVAC performance.
Shade the Outdoor Compressor
If your AC compressor gets direct sun in summer, it places strain on the system. The radiant heat can cause unsafe pressure levels inside, triggering overload cutoffs. This prevents proper cooling.
Make sure to shade the compressor with a cover or plants. You can also paint the cabinet white to reflect sunlight. Keeping your compressor shaded improves cooling efficiency on hot, sunny days.
Use Fans to Complement HVAC
Circulating air with ceiling fans or portable fans is an easy way to boost your HVAC performance. The gentle airflow from fans lets you raise the thermostat temperature by 2 to 4°F without losing comfort. This takes pressure off your AC.
Fans help push cooled and heated air around too. Strategically using fans to move air gives your HVAC a helping hand. Just turn fans off when you leave a room. The air movement makes rooms feel cooler than they are.
Get Professional HVAC Servicing Yearly
While regular DIY care is key, it’s also vital to get your entire HVAC system professionally inspected and serviced at least once a year, usually spring or fall.
Per Department of Energy data, only about 40% of homeowners get regular professional HVAC tune-ups. However, regular maintenance checks can extend your HVAC lifespan by up to 40%, saving big costs over time.
A qualified technician will do a thorough inspection and tune-up, check for leaks, clear drains, calibrate controls, and ensure peak operation.
Technicians can detect small problems through testing before issues get bigger and mean expensive emergency repairs. For instance, less airflow often signals underlying blockages or motor problems that degrade system capacity if ignored. Catching problems early allows preventative maintenance instead of costly repairs later.
Getting professional HVAC servicing yearly also ensures your equipment runs safely and efficiently, providing energy savings. EPA studies show a properly serviced system can save homeowners up to 30% on heating and cooling costs versus an unmaintained one.
Keep all HVAC service reports to document maintenance records. Protecting your home comfort investment requires diligence and teamwork between DIY care and professional tune-ups. Regular pro maintenance plus your own filter changes, cleaning and checks are essential to get the most from your HVAC.
Keeping your HVAC in great shape takes DIY care and professional servicing together. Stay proactive on filters, vents, drains and other easy-access maintenance. But also use HVAC technicians to maximize system longevity and efficiency. Caring for your heating and cooling is vital for a cozy, cost-effective home year-round.