Start Your Spring Cleaning With HVAC Maintenance
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we often seem to have two seasons: summer and winter. The frigid temperatures in the morning require just enough heat to take the chill off. And before you know it, the heat of the afternoon leaves you trying just about anything to escape to cooler temperatures.
Yes, heating and cooling here in Vancouver can often be challenging. But right now as the days grow longer, and the flowers burst into color all around us, it’s a challenge we’re willing to accept. It’s spring! And that means the warm days are coming fast. Lazy days enjoying the great outdoors followed by cool breezes as we sleep at night will soon be here. And really, is there a better time of the year?
Drive down your street, and you’ll see spring fever is everywhere. Yes, the trees are budding, and the flowers are poking their heads up from a long winter’s nap. But beyond that, you’ll find your neighbors spraying down their decks, hauling out the patio furniture, and preparing their gardens for many months of enjoyment. Join them. A thorough spring cleaning can be a fun and welcome chore when the temperatures move up, up, up.
While you are preparing your deck for the first party of the year and planting the first set of annuals that will add color to your landscaping, don’t forget to do a little spring cleaning on the inside as well. Your heating and cooling system needs a little TLC, too.
Many people don’t realize that HVAC maintenance should be a bi-annual priority. It’s important to clean and check your heating, cooling, and ventilation systems each year, too:
Avoid hidden allergens
When it comes to the air you breathe, what you can’t see can hurt you. If you have allergies or are sensitive to dust, mold, or other airborne materials, you might be surprised that your home’s air supply could be a contributing factor to feeling bad.
That air supply is controlled through your HVAC equipment. Your air filter plays its part in trapping these materials as they enter and circulate through the system. They settle on the coils in your air handling unit and combine with moisture to develop a layer of grime. It’s the prime breeding spot for bacteria and mold, and if left untouched, could contaminate the air supply you use all summer long.
Some of these particles move from the system through your ductwork. If you’ve never had duct cleaning performed before, you may have hidden bacteria and debris deep in the system. Ducts can provide a safe harbor for dust mites, insects, even rodents when your system isn’t in use. Dander, droppings, and dead insects may be contaminating your air supply as well. If you have recurring allergy symptoms, talk with your HVAC technician about maintenance to ensure your safety all through the year.
Avoid hidden costs
It takes regular maintenance to ensure HVAC equipment is operating at optimal efficiency. And in some cases, homeowners take the “out of sight, out of mind” road waiting for a problem to occur before addressing a concern. However, that approach often leads to larger repair bills and a greater chance of equipment failing before its time. Spring cleaning can ensure your heating and cooling system has better system performance, resulting in more controlled energy costs.
Dirt and film covering your indoor and outdoor coils can increase your cooling bills by as much as 30 percent. Blockages and leaks in your ducts can add another 20 percent to your energy use. Low refrigerant may result in another 20 percent. And if you continue to operate equipment that is stressed, it can lead to extensive repair bills or even the necessity of replacing the equipment altogether.
Check your system now before you need to
It’s a great idea to check your system now while it’s operating effectively to determine what problems may exist or what maintenance is needed to keep it operational in the coming months. As you’re cleaning out the flower beds, dusting off the outdoor furniture, and airing out your house from the dust that has accumulated throughout the winter, take the time to check your heating and cooling system, too. This simple list will show you the most important aspects.
Before you begin, ensure your thermostat is in the “off” position with the temperature set to a high setting – 80 degrees or higher. Then check the following:
- Check the thermostat – When was the last time it was updated? Do you have a programmable thermostat in place? Replacing an old thermostat can save money and energy by allowing you to schedule when your home is conditioned from day to day. It can automatically turn on before you rise in the morning and adjust before you return home from work. It can adjust based on the day of the week, with different setting on weekdays and weekends. And with today’s technology in place, you can control all of this and more via a smart device.
- Check exposed ductwork – Look for wear and tear. Do any joints appear to be leaking?
- Check air vents – Walk from room to room, ensuring all vents have a clear path to deliver conditioned air to your rooms. Remove any item that could block airflow, such as boxes, furniture, or drapery.
- Change your air filter – The filter should be replaced at a minimum every three months, up to once a month in active homes with pets.
- Check circuits – Make sure all electrical connections are on.
- Check power – Ensure the power is turned on at the furnace/air conditioning unit. Also, ensure you turn your thermostat on.
Next, ensure your outdoor equipment is still in great shape and doesn’t show signs of wear and tear after the harsh winter.
- Check the outdoor condenser unit – Make sure there is no blockage around the unit; clean the area around it removing leaves, vines, or debris to ensure they won’t affect performance.
- Check the refrigerant lines – The lines should be properly insulated. If they show wear and tear, all repairs should be performed by a professional heating and cooling technician.
- Check the wiring – If you see damage or wear to the outdoor electrical wiring, call a professional HVAC technician for service before operating your system.
In general, it’s a good idea to hire a service technician at least twice per year for regular maintenance work to keep your heating and cooling system running efficiently in each season. If you have any problems or concerns, you should call a professional for service before the problem grows in potential to ensure your home will be properly conditioned all year through.
And, with life as busy as it is, if you just want to pass along these HVAC checks to a professional, there are excellent, certified technicians in your area who are more than willing to lend a helping hand.