Do it Yourself Tips for Maintaining Your Air Conditioning System
Preventing or even fixing a problem on your own can be both fun and rewarding when you have the know-how to get the heart of the project. Learn how to maintain your total home comfort, recognize a problem and more with the use of these tips and techniques.
NOTE: While we offer these guides, we highly recommend having a licensed HVAC professional perform all maintenance and installation functions. Schedule your regular maintenance today.
- Keep outdoor condenser clean. Shut the power off to your outdoor air conditioning unit, either at the breaker and/or at the disconnect box. Spray the air conditioner coil down with a hose to clean off any debris. Trim bushes away 18" from the air conditioner to prevent a restriction of air to the unit. It may be necessary to use professional coil cleaner to remove built up pollution on the coil. Do not use household chemicals that could cause corrosion damage to the coil. It is best to have a professional perform this when needed. It is not necessary to cover the outdoor unit during the winter.
- Inspect your indoor unit to protect against water damage. Check that there are no water leaks and that the system is draining properly. Turn the unit on and let it run for about 15 minutes, periodically checking for any visible water leaks. Water build-up (due to the condensation on your indoor unit's plumbing) is nothing to be nervous about. However, if there is a significant accumulation due to a broken, loose or malfunctioning part, your problem could eventually turn into a costly repair. In addition, blockages inside your pipes can also become hazardous to your system. If your system is leaking water in any significant way, call a service technician immediately.
While these steps will help to keep your system in proper running order, the best way to save money and avoid system malfunctions is professional, seasonal maintenance. Having our service professionals perform a full 21 point Maintenance Inspection each heating and cooling season helps to keep your system running as it is supposed to.
Regular maintenance can help lower your energy bills as well as provide extended life and efficiency of your air conditioning systems. Call today and schedule an appointment for a full system tune-up with a trained technician.
- Utilize shrubs and trees. Planting tall trees or shrubs around the outside of your house can greatly increase the efficiency of your air conditioning unit. The shading these plants produce can decrease costs by as much as 25%. Especially effective are deciduous trees (ones that shed their leaves in the winter). You'll receive cool shade all summer long, while allowing warming sunlight to enter your home all winter.
Problem: My system is running properly, but it doesn't seem to be cooling my house.
Solution: Most likely, your system is in need of a tune-up. Have a professional come out to check out the entire system seasonally to avoid dirt build up. Even a small amount of dirt can cause your system to work harder to cool your home. You should check regularly monitor your outside condenser for blockage such as leaves and debris and have a professional inspect your ductwork for any airflow problems.
Problem: Some rooms in my home are much cooler than others.
Solution: This is commonly due to insufficient ductwork as well as the natural tendency for cooler air to fall and hot air to rise. The first step is to regulate airflow from registers in lower rooms of the house, forcing the cold air to exit at the top of your home and drop to the bottom. This should create an even spread of cooling throughout the home. If that is not effective, the next step is to call a professional and have your ventilation inspected for leaks or blockage.
Problem: System is non-operational
Solution: Your temperature settings may not be correct on your thermostat. Check to see that it is set for a temperature below the current indoor temperature of your home. Next, check to see whether power is being sent to your system. Inspect circuit breakers to ensure that it is receiving the required energy. If both steps have been performed and the system has not started, have a technician come to inspect the system as soon as possible.
- Check and change air filters regularly. Check your system's air filters on a regular basis. This will help greatly increase your home's indoor air quality as well as the efficiency of your air condition system. You should clean or replace air filters about once a month.
- Maintain your air purifier. If you have installed a central air purification system in your home, it is a good idea to thoroughly clean it two or three times a year. Cleaning out dust and debris from pre-filter and collection cells at the start of every heating and cooling season will help maintain peak performance.
- Keeping ducts clean. It is not recommended to clean your home's entire duct system yourself, though you can still clean key areas. Removing the vents at the registers in your home will allow you to vacuum areas that accumulate dust. Make sure your vacuum's attachments are tightly connected to ensure that none become dislodged inside of your duct system.
- Protect from moisture build-up. Utilize bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans to help remove excess moisture from these areas of your home. Whenever a room is in use, turn on the fan. If rooms do not have fans, consider installing one as they help to greatly reduce moisture build-up and the lessen potential for mildew growth.
- Keep your air clean. Consistent home cleaning including vacuuming and dusting can greatly help to improve indoor air quality. Washing bed sheets and window dressings can also help reduce allergens and irritants, giving you and your ventilation system a break.
Problem: My air filter has not been changed in a while and it needs to be replaced
Solution: Locate the portion of your ventilation that contains your air filter. If you do not know where that is located, simply ask the next time you have a professional service your system, or simply call your service company. Most systems have a hatch or access panel that will open to expose your main filtering mechanism. Locate your filter and simply slide it out. After you have removed the filter, be sure to clean out any dust or debris that may be located in the surrounding area. It will quickly re-clog your system if it is not removed. Depending on the type of filter you have installed, clean or replace the filter. Slide the new or cleaned filter back into the slot and close the hatch or access panel.
- Keep your thermostat setting under control. Adjust your thermostat to the proper settings throughout the day to reduce system operation, especially when you are not at home.
- Cover the windows. Keep your window coverings closed on the south, east, and west windows during the hot months to help maintain a comfortable climate inside.
- Switch from Incandescent to Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFLs). CFLs last 4 to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs - and they only require one quarter of the energy!
- Use appliances efficiently. Wash only full loads when using your dishwasher or laundry. Use the cold water setting on your washing machine when you can. You can conserve up to 75% of the energy required to run the washer by using cold water. Also, be sure to clean your clothes dryer's lint trap after each use and use the moisture-sensing automatic drying setting if you have them.
- Save the dryer. Use a stand-alone clothes rack or line to dry your clothes. If you must use your dryer, try to dry two loads consecutively to make the most of the heat you generated in the first load.
- Install Low-flow water fixtures. Save energy while saving water. A low-flow showerhead can reduce your water usage by two thirds.
- Install a heat recovery unit. Did you know that you can have free hot water for about 3 months out of the year? That's right! Ask about the Zero Energy Heat Recovery System.
- Apply a radiant heat barrier. You can reflect 88-90% of transferred heat in your attic by installing Heat Bloc Ultra. Call and ask for details today.
- Take Showers. Start taking showers instead of baths. Baths consume two and a half times more hot water than a shower.
- Set your ceiling fans to reverse rotation. Something as simple as setting your ceiling fan in reverse will circulate the warm air, pulling it away from the ceiling and cooling off the room. Ceiling fans use about the same electricity as a 100-watt light bulb and costs just pennies a day to run.
- Use the microwave. Use the microwave instead of the oven whenever possible. The microwave uses two-thirds the amount of energy as a regular oven.
- Be smart with home electronics. Turn off your computer and any other home office equipment when you're not using them. Also switch to an LCD/flat panel monitor and you'll use a third of the power required for conventional CRT monitors.
- Install a programmable thermostat. When it comes to saving money on home heating and cooling costs, sometimes size does matter. A programmable thermostat could be the key to saving 22% or more on your monthly bill.
How can such a small item perform such a big task? Programmable thermostats allow you to program your comfort system to suit your lifestyle with the simple touch of a button. Do you work 9 to 5? Are you going out for the day?
A programmable thermostat allows you to take control of your homes temperature settings during periods where your home is empty, saving you from unnecessary heating or cooling costs.
Programmable thermostats can include options that will also allow you to zone your home, effectively dividing it into separate sections, so you can choose which portion of your home is heated or cooled. Diverting your systems airflow from unoccupied rooms allows you to heat or cool the parts of the house you spend the most time in much more efficiently.
Simple measures can also save you plenty of money. By turning your temperature up a few degrees in the summer (around 78) or down a few in the winter (68 degrees), you can save even more without a loss of comfort.
Be sure to ask our trained technicians during your next service call how a programmable thermostat could help alleviate some of your home energy costs and start saving today