As much as half of a home’s energy use goes toward heating and cooling. Properly maintaining a home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can make all the difference in gaining increased efficiency and lower energy costs.
HVAC systems should be serviced following specific maintenance procedures twice per year, once in the spring and once in the fall, says Tyler Kime, of Standard Heating and Air Conditioning, located in Birmingham.
“Our industry has conducted several studies that show that routine maintenance can help equipment last longer, reduce major repairs, and keep the equipment running at peak efficiency.”
During these types of inspections a technician will check and verify proper operation of the equipment, says Kime. Putting off this simple routine maintenance could eventually result in a weakened or even failed unit, not to mention costly repairs and higher energy use in the meanwhile.
In the fall, the heating cycle of an HVAC system should be thoroughly tested. The heat chambers should be checked for rust and cracks, and the flue should be inspected to make sure it is drawing properly.
It is especially important for homeowners using natural gas equipment to make sure the unit is operating safely. Kime explains that blocked vents and cracks in the chamber can lead to potential CO2 and CO danger in the home.
“We recently had a customer whose furnace was back venting to the tank water heater and blowing combustion products into the crawl space. We took the vent pipe loose at the chimney flue and found a birds nest blocking the flow of combustion gases. Now it is venting safely and efficiently.”
Springtime and early summer maintenance for HVAC systems involve checking the unit’s coil, which can often become clogged with dirt, leaves, and other debris, resulting in reduced heat transfer and a less efficient unit. Once the coil is cleaned, the unit can “breathe” much better, says Kime.
Another preventative measure for maintaining a more efficient HVAC system is filter changing. This is a simple task that most homeowners can tend to themselves. “Dirty filters make the equipment work harder and can reduce the efficiency.
A completely clogged filter can make the coil freeze up, causing water problems and reducing the life of the system,” says Kime. Regular cleaning and changing of filters is an easy maintenance task homeowners can do themselves in order to ensure the best filtration, enhance the unit’s efficiency and longevity, and provide healthier, cleaner air for the home environment.
How often a filter should be changed can vary depending on usage. Before changing a filter, check the owner’s manual for specific recommendations, however, Kime suggests changing 1 inch filters once every three months. “If the homeowner has several animals and/or allergies, it may need to be replaced once a month,” he says, adding that high efficiency filters usually last longer, anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
Proper maintenance and annual service for a home’s HVAC system is essential to the unit’s ability to perform well. Doing so greatly reduces the energy costs associated with heating and cooling a home, and when the home offers greater efficiency, it becomes more comfortable, sustainable, and more valuable. For more information about routine HVAC maintenance and service, visit www.standardheatingandairconditioning.com.