A mild winter and early spring temperatures in Chattanooga means that central air systems will inevitably get some use well before summer officially begins. At Metro, we believe in empowering our customers and neighbors with practical DIY advice for their plumbing, heating and air systems. With this mind, we thought we would offer some early HVAC maintenance tips before the temperatures dictate turning on the A/C.
We’ve stated many of these essential procedures before, but they’re worth repeating; especially if you have an older system. Keep in mind that these steps are not that technical in nature and can be tackled by anyone – even if you’ve never touched your condenser (outdoor A/C component). While we are still experiencing lows in the 30’s, it’s a good time to begin thinking about DIY maintenance for you’re A/C. Following these easy tips will help ensure that your central air system runs at peak efficiency throughout the spring and summer.
Clean the Condensing Unit
The condenser is the outdoor component of your air conditioning. It’s the square or dome-like unit that is connected to the side or back of your home. Its location isn’t as important as what surrounds it. A condenser situated close to bushes or trees should be monitored closely to ensure that limbs and leaves don’t compromise the air flow. Yard debris can also find its way into the interior and harm the compressor, condensing coil and other parts housed inside.
Make sure to keep at least two feet of space between the unit and any other structures. This will ensure sufficient space for the flow of air – and keep the contamination minimal. Remove any debris from around the condenser and trim any limbs or plant life that might have grown too close. You will also want to take a hose to the unit if it appears to be dirty/dusty from the months of non-use. Before you wash it off, be sure to turn of the electricity feeding it first.
Change the Air Filter
In the spring, it’s important to change the HVAC filter before the summer season begins. The basic rule for air filters is that they should be changed (or cleaned if reusable) every three months in fall and spring – the off-seasons. During peak operating times, in the summer and winter, a filter should be changed every month. These windows can vary depending on usage and a combination of things. If you own pets and your city has poor air quality, you might consider looking at your filter once a month and checking the condition. A dirty air filter will cause a system to work harder, raise the electricity bill and provide less protection from airborne contaminants. A compromised filter will also shorten the life of your HVAC system.
If you are buying a filter for the first time, you will want to make sure to pay attention to the EPA’s minimum efficiency reporting value (or MERV). Listed on the packaging of every HVAC filter, the MERV scale rates the effectiveness of residential brands from 1 to 12. The higher the number, the better the filtration capacity. But be mindful of the higher-rated brands as they require more energy for the air to properly run through. So it’s important to weigh filter effectiveness versus higher energy costs when comparing options. Fortunately, most hardware and home improvement stores carry a wide variety of brands and MERV ratings.
Check the Thermostat
Chattanooga homes have probably had their heat on at some point in the past few weeks. Morning lows in the 30’s have kept most people reaching for the thermostat – regardless of the warmer-than-average highs. If there were something wrong with your thermostat, you would already know it by now. But it’s important to check your thermostat when going through your first air conditioning cycle because it can help in detecting problems with the unit. If you own a digital/programmable thermostat that has been functioning properly with your heating unit, but has difficulty communicating with the A/C, there might be problems with the condensing unit. Is your central air still run by a mechanical thermostat? Technical problems with your HVAC are more easily discovered with a digital device.
Schedule Annual Maintenance
Because your HVAC is such an essential part of keeping your household healthy and comfortable, ensuring it runs in optimal condition is important. Annual maintenance performed twice a year will help extend the life of your system, increase energy efficiency and help reduce your utility bills. It will also help identify problems before they become major repair issues – potentially saving you hundreds on repairs. Most manufacturer warranties include provisions that annual maintenance be performed to ensure they remain valid. If you are not signed up for Metro’s Heating and Air Conditioning Maintenance Plan, you should consider participating. About 70% of our repair calls could be prevented with proper annual maintenance. If you are on the plan and would like to schedule an early service inspection for later this month, contact us today!
Keep your HVAC running at maximum efficiency with regular DIY and professional maintenance. The combination will ensure your central air system lives a long life and keeps repair bills at a minimum. Call us at 423-616-1025 or 706-516-1980 to schedule an appointment today!
Want to keep your HVAC running efficiently? Metro Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning is the service company you want! Call us today at (423) 616-1025!