HVAC System Maintenance Can Save You Money
Summer is the busy season for your air conditioner and we all know it's important to keep your AC running. Even if the air conditioning system is not your responsibility, but that of a landlord, it is still necessary to perform the most basic of preventative maintenance. Basic tasks, which will help keep the outside unit and inside unit functioning normally, are easier than one might think.
There are usually two units to a central air conditioner system, the condenser, which is usually on the exterior of the home and resting on a concrete slab or platform, and the evaporator coil, which can be found in a variety of locations. The evaporator coil is usually located in the garage, attic or inside a mechanical room or closet. It is always found after the blower motor in the plenum, which is the large metal boxed housing where the air return ductwork enters. The evaporator coil is not directly visible or serviceable by the home owner usually.
One of the most important checks to do is giving the condenser a cursory glance. If the entire unit is not readily seen, then it means it is time to cut back the shrubs and grass. The condenser's immediate surroundings must be kept free of any obstructions and overgrowth that could obstruct air flow. Other potential restrictions to the movement of air are bushes and grass as well as trash cans that are set immediately next to the condenser or a wooden railing blocking the air flow.
It is recommended that there be a minimum space of approximately 18 inches between the condenser and any other objects. Any less than this and the unit will need to work harder, thereby shortening the lifespan of the condenser. When the condenser works harder than necessary, it means that the cooling ability can be compromised and the utility bill will be more expensive. Clearing obstructions is just an easy way to save money on your monthly utility bill.
The second thing to notice is if the cooling fins have been bent and flattened. Cooling fins are made from thin strips of aluminum, and therefore are easily damaged or clogged by flying debris and dirt from lawn mowers, weed trimmers and other lawn maintenance equipment. Bent cooling fins are essentially the same thing as blocking the free movement of air. Most hardware stores sell fin combs which only cost a few dollars, but can save much greater expense from service calls and equipment failure.
The last main task a home owner needs to do regularly is replacing the filter at the air intake vent. Air filters can range in cost from $2 or $3 to $30 or more. It all depends upon the type of filter purchased. The more expensive air filters are electrostatic and specialty filters. These higher quality filters are often reusable and only require periodic cleaning.
Usually one filter change every per month is adequate for the average home. However, if your family is sensitive to pollen and dust or there are several pets in the household, more frequent filter changes may be necessary. Most plenums can have a narrow removable door where another air filter may be located. This filter should not need replacing as often. Many times this air filter has been removed completely and was never replaced.
Regardless of the type of HVAC system that you own, it is absolutely vital that you have an annual tune up performed before the system is placed into heavy service during the late spring and summer months. Calling Comfort Zone can ensure that the system will be functioning properly and greatly decrease the chances of a problem going unchecked causing equipment failure.