It’s chilly outside right now, but if you’ve lived in Nevada for any length of time, you know that it won’t be long before the summer season arrives and its grueling heat sets in. You want your air conditioner to be ready the moment the mercury soars into the red, and the best way to do that is to have your local HVAC professional give it a 21-point tune-up.
Tune-ups are available at an affordable service price and can identify potential problems before they turn into expensive breakdowns and unbearably hot indoor temperatures. When you get professional HVAC maintenance during the summer, it can improve the efficiency and performance of your air conditioning system, allowing you to enjoy reliable and uninterrupted cooling and comfort while lowering your energy bills.
Here are the 21 steps involved in getting your air conditioner ready for summer! It includes the common air conditioning system tune-up steps such as calibrating the thermostat, evaluating refrigerant levels and checking for leaks, assessing the operation of the blower belt and motor, and cleaning the condenser coils- everything needed to give your system a clean bill of health!
1. Inspecting the condenser for oil deposits and other types of debris. The condenser is one of the three main elements in your air conditioning system, the other ones being the evaporator and compressor. According to the US Department of Energy, compressor energy consumption can go up by 30% when a condenser coil is dirty.
After checking for and clearing away any dirt, your HVAC professional will use a pressure gauge to measure the system’s operating pressure and confirm that the reading is acceptable.
2. Drawing readings of the capacitor and start components. The capacitor is a small cylindrical unit that stores energy. It sends a jolt to start up the motor or a series of jolts to keep it running, so the capacitor works with the compressor, blower motor, and exterior fan to keep your AC system running properly.
3. Taking readings on refrigerant levels and doing a visual inspection for any leaks. Note whether the air conditioning refrigerant is R22 or R410A. The Environmental Protection Agency started gradually eliminating R22, otherwise known as Freon, in 2004 and it is expected to be completely obsolete by 2020. It has been replaced by R410A, also known as Puron.
4. Checking the thermostat wiring to ensure that it is both functioning correctly and delivering an accurate reading. If the reading seems off, the thermostat keeps losing its settings, or the HVAC system in your home won’t come on or continues to short-cycle, the thermostat may be failing and require replacement.
5. Inspecting the home’s ducting and ventilation systems. According to Energy Star, an estimated 20% of conditioned air that passes through your home’s duct system is lost due to holes, leaks, and poor connections, forcing your HVAC system to work harder. These gaps can also allow air, debris, and dust into the system, creating problems for people with allergies.
At the same time that the ductwork is inspected, the one-inch air conditioner filters or specialty filters should be changed. These filters, which clean the incoming air before it is conditioned and distributed throughout your home, are generally located along the length of the return duct.
6. Running the HVAC system for eight to ten minutes, until the temperature in the ductwork is balanced, and then checking the return and supply air temperatures. If everything is in good working order, the supply register’s temperature should be 14 to 20 degree cooler than the return ducts.
If the temperature difference exceeds 20 degrees, the air is restricted, which happens for one of three reasons:
● A fan problem (e.g., it is moving too slowly or not the correct size for the system)
● A dirty filter
● Problems with the ductwork
Temperature differences of less than 14 degrees may be due to:
● Dirty oil
● Refrigerant loss
● Problems with the air return system
● A fan that’s too large for the unit
● Problems with the compressor
7. Taking a reading of the defrost cycle/supplemental heating and confirming that it is at factory standards. The defrost cycle normally runs when the system detects a frost or ice build-up on the outdoor unit and clears it away to prevent the heat pump operation from being hindered. Supplemental heating kicks in when the ambient outside air gets below a certain point and the heat pump can’t pull in heat from the outside air, forcing it to use an auxiliary system.
8. Checking the superheat, which is the degrees above the boiling point of the refrigerant in your HVAC system. Superheated refrigerants can be pumped by your compressor, so it facilitates the state change that makes your system’s refrigeration cycle work.
9. Inspecting the air entering the outdoor coil. Your HVAC professional will measure the temperature of the air that enters the coil and confirms that it falls within chart values provided by the manufacturer.
10. Carrying out an inspection of the indoor coil for buildup of dirt or debris. If dirty, indoor coils should be cleaned with a non-acidic coil cleaner and thoroughly rinsed.
11. Doing an inspection of the condenser coil for dirt or debris and if necessary, clean it with a non-acidic coil cleaner. Outdoor condenser coils can become quite dirty if there is foliage nearby or the surrounding environment is dusty. To minimize the amount of build-up, you should clean falling leaves, cut grass, and other debris away from the area around the coil and trim the foliage to give at least two feet of clearance for the condenser to have access to adequate airflow.
12. Checking the blower motor function and the belt tension. If there are problems with the motor, the following may occur:
● Weak airflow from the vents
● No air coming through
● The fan only blows at specific speeds
If the drive handler belt on the blower motor is not functioning properly, it can lead to issues like reduced airflow and frozen coils. If yours needs replacing, your HVAC technician can take care of it for you.
13. Inspecting the motor function of the outdoor fan. Below are some signs that the fan has issues:
● It won’t start when the AC is turned on or stop even after you turn off the AC
● The blade rotates extremely slow
● A rattling noise comes from the condenser unit when the fan is turned on
If there are no operational problems, the technician will ensure that the fan belt is tightened and lubricated as needed.
14. Assessing amperage and voltage from the blower motor and condenser fan motor and confirming that they are at factory specifications. If the voltage is too low, the motors will run slower with a lower output. If it is too high, the motors can overheat. Amperage variations can also cause issues and will need to be corrected.
15. Inspecting the function of the condensation pump, which pumps the water produced by your HVAC system. This condensation process usually takes place when the air passes through the cold evaporator coil during cooling. Signs of pump issues include water build-up that pools everywhere.
16. Inspecting the contactor connection and electrical components. The contractor controls the flow of electricity to components in your HVAC. It sends voltage to the condenser and outdoor fan motor. When the thermostat calls for cooling, a connection opens between the contractors’ volt side to the side where the compressor and fan motor connect. Once the thermostat stops signaling for cooling, the contactor opens and all power to the equipment stops.
17. Checking suction line temperature and pressures. If the air conditioning has been running for at least 20 minutes, the refrigerant suction line (which returns the refrigerant to the compressor) will feel cool. (If refrigerant levels are too low, the suction line will be covered with heavy frost at the evaporator coil.) At the same time, the high-pressure refrigerant line, which is where refrigerant leaves the compressor to go back to the indoor air handler and evaporator coil, should be hot. Any variations in the expected temperatures can be a sign of a problem.
18. Inspecting service valves to confirm that they are in good working order and sealing properly.
19. Following all of the HVAC system wiring and electrical connections and ensuring that everything is correctly placed.
20. Inspecting the disconnect box to confirm that all wire sizing is correct and tighten connections if necessary. This box provides an HVAC installer or repair professional with a means of disconnecting power while performing maintenance on an HVAC unit.
21. Inspecting the metering device, which is responsible for supplying the correct amount of refrigerant to the evaporator coil.
Reasons why you should get a regular tune-up
Just as you visit your doctor or dentist on a yearly basis for a check-up, arranging for an HVAC tune-up is a way of confirming that your central air conditioning system is in good working order and ready to cope with cooling demands once summer hits.
Other advantages of HVAC maintenance during the summer include:
● You can prevent little issues from escalating into major problems. Your air conditioning system may be running well today, but some issues that may not be readily apparent could cause it to break down tomorrow. During a tune-up, an experienced HVAC technician can detect many of these complications before they have the chance to affect system performance.
● You can save up to 30% on your cooling costs when you arrange for a yearly air conditioner tune-up because the checks and adjustments improve the efficiency of the system operation.
● Your air conditioning system will be able to cool your home consistently. Systems that are not well-maintained often have performance issues such as drastic temperature changes between rooms.
● There will be a reduced need for repairs, as an HVAC technician will catch problems before they can lead to equipment breakdown.
● Indoor air quality will be the best that it can be. During the checkup, all of your air filters will be replaced, making sure that the air circulating through your home is clean.
● Your warranty remains valid. Most HVAC manufacturers require their systems to undergo routine maintenance, so failure to do so can void your warranty and require you to pay for repair costs and parts out of pocket. Yearly air conditioning tune-ups like the one in this blog will help you get the most of your warranty by keeping it valid as long as possible.
It helps to think of your air conditioner like other pieces of equipment that you rely on. Would you skip routine maintenance for your car, such as tire rotation and oil changes?
The same approach applies to your air conditioner, which keeps you cool and comfortable when the Nevada summers are at their most scorching. These 21 steps for HVAC maintenance during the summer will support smooth AC system performance for a long time to come.
If you still feel like you need extra help or any further AC assistance don’t hesitate to reach out. We are always available to help you!