With fall approaching us quickly, even in the Vegas area, now is the perfect time to ensure your HVAC system is in good standing. Waiting until the last minute before the weather changes can bring unexpected consequences to your comfort. Getting a head start on HVAC maintenance will give you peace of mind during the colder months.
Here are some steps you should expect to take care of on your HVAC system before the autumn season begins.
Clear Debris from Near the Condenser
As the season begins to change, leaves, dust, dirt, etc., can accumulate around your HVAC outdoor unit. The general rule of thumb is to have two feet of space cleared from each side of the HVAC unit. This space should be clear from all debris that can cause any damage or prevent it from performing at maximum efficiency.
As the season progresses and the mornings and evenings get cooler, smaller animals such as mice, squirrels, rodents, etc. may be trying to seek shelter in the system. While clearing debris, check to see if any animals have already begun nesting inside or outside your unit. If you fear it will be an issue this fall, outdoor condenser brackets can help prevent animals from entering. As for the indoor unit, you should look for any children’s toys, clothing, or items you may have misplaced nearby. Any obstruction of airflow can lead to the unit underperforming.
Check Your Thermostat Settings
When you live in an area that experiences a drastic change in temperature from season to season, you understand firsthand how chilly mornings and evenings can be. Before experiencing those cold weather conditions, you should test your thermostat to see how efficiently it can heat or cool the house. If you have a programmable thermostat, now is a good time to reconfigure its settings with summer coming to an end.
If you find that your home isn’t currently equipped with one, you may want to reconsider. The benefits of programmable thermostats could mean all the difference in creating a comfortable home this fall.
Whether you’re trying to:
- save on monthly utility expenses
- have preset temperatures depending on the time of day
- want to increase your home’s efficiency
This thermostat could be a lifesaver for getting through the seasons.
Change the Air Filter
Whether you experience seasonal changes or not, it’s highly recommended to change your unit’s air filters at least twice a year. This number comes from the seasonality of your HVAC use and the filters you purchase. Warmer months in the spring and summer will utilize your condenser unit, while your furnace takes over for the fall and winter. In addition, changing the air filters provides several other benefits while preventing damage to your unit. Here are some great reasons to change the filters:
- Poor Air Quality – As dust particles build up over time in the filter, they decrease airflow. This ultimately results in your HVAC system struggling to heat or cool your home. Without enough airflow to the unit, moisture from the air won’t be easily removed, leaving you with a humid and uncomfortable home.
- Strained Fans – As the air filter gets dirtier, it can cause blower strain, making it harder to heat or cool your home. A clean filter has less resistance, allowing the fan to work at maximum efficiency.
- Increased Utility Bills – With a filter full of dust and debris, the unit has to work harder to blow fresh, cool, or heated air through the clogged filter. Do yourself a favor the next time you check your utility expenses and look for any abnormally high charges. A new filter could be the change you need.
While air filters protect your HVAC unit, they also protect you and your loved ones. Filters allow for safe, breathable air to come into your home.
There are many different types of filters on the market for HVAC units. Some are strong enough to catch allergens, food smells, dangerous substances, dust, and even pollen. It’s imperative to be diligent about changing the filters, especially if you didn’t build your house, if it’s older, or contains vinyl. While asbestos has been banned since 1972, it’s an airborne contaminant that is the leading cause of mesothelioma and is still found in some older homes. Airborne asbestos fiber particles range from .7 to 90 microns in size. However, HEPA air filters are designed to absorb particle sizes above and below .3 microns.
Keep Your Vents Clean
Dust and debris buildup will likely occur unless you frequently clean your vents and ducts. Without being cleaned often, it’ll continue to blow throughout your home. If you have allergies, they may worsen unless the issue is resolved. Having the vents and ducts routinely cleaned makes it considerably more challenging for any buildup to occur on the coil and blower motor. The buildup also contributes to higher utility costs from lower unit efficiency.
It’s easy to disregard vents placed higher on walls and ceilings. It is a common misconception they don’t see dust buildup because they’re elevated. Dust is an airborne particle. It can lay stagnant in the supply and return vents, often overlooked by homeowners. However, this is crucial to maintaining a healthy, breathable home.
Often people block vents with furniture, decor, carpeting, and other regular household items. This is the most common way for dust buildup to occur. You can’t clean what you can’t see. If the vents are hidden from plain sight, they could potentially cause issues in the future. Most people overlook this, especially if they have pets, and even more so if they claim their pets don’t shed.
Covered vents accumulate dust, hair, and dirt much quicker than an exposed vent. If your pet doesn’t shed their fur, it doesn’t mean they won’t be carrying dust with them as they walk from place to place in the house.
To err on the side of caution, ensuring all vents are easily visible in a room is not a bad idea. If the vent color clashes with the room or wall color, consider painting it so you don’t feel the need to cover it.
When taking on the task of cleaning your vents, it is important to work with purpose. These are the main points of circulation for all the air inside your home, so taking your time to ensure they’re as clean as possible will be crucial to the quality of the air you and your family are breathing. After all, your breathing air passes through these vents, so let’s be sure to do it right.
- Start by removing the vent covers from the floor, walls, and ceilings if you have them. Note that this may require a screwdriver.
- Vacuum both sides of the vents. The exposed side of the vent is just as important as the backside.
- Microfiber clothes tend to work best to dust off your vent covers, but a regular washcloth will work just fine.
- Prepare a warm water and soap mixture. This can be either in a sink, bathtub, or five-gallon buckets, whichever you prefer.
- Place your vent covers in the warm soapy water mixture for 15 minutes. Be mindful that if you have stainless steel or iron vents, this may cause them to rust.
- Dry your vent covers with a towel and place them back in their designated place.
- Repeat this process until all of your vent covers are cleaned.
Check for Damage
Every season, it’s suggested you look for both exterior and interior damage on your HVAC unit. Understandably, it can be difficult to identify any damage.
Here’s a checklist that will help you identify any internal problems:
- Poor airflow
- Inconsistent temperatures
- High levels of humidity
- Thermostat problems
- Moisture leaking/pooling on or near the unit
- Loud noises coming from the unit
- Heating/cooling cycles are turned on and off without correctly heating/cooling the home
- Increased utility expenses
- Previous repairs to the unit
- The unit has reached its lifespan
If you find yourself with a damaged HVAC unit, consider taking out a home equity line of credit to streamline the repair or replacement process. A HELOC may come in handy when you’re low on funds or when a unit breaks unexpectedly. This allows you to draw equity out of your home rather than covering unplanned expenses out of pocket. With fall around the corner and cooler temperatures on the way, it’s best to do this check sooner than later to prepare yourself for the upcoming months.
Check the Integrity of Your Windows and Attic
If your home feels considerably warm with the AC running or chilly when the furnace is on, you may be experiencing an air leak from a drafty attic or windows. This is something you can check for yourself before calling an expert. On a sunny day, go outside your home and look closely at the window frames for any holes and patch them. Once any visible holes are patched, wait for a windy day for a draft test. Place a tissue or napkin along the front of the window and see if it moves. You can weather strip your windows as a last effort before considering replacing your windows or calling an expert.
If the issue isn’t from your windows or doorways, it’s likely to be from your attic. Properly insulating your attic could be all it takes to ensure that air doesn’t escape your home. While this may not be a task you take on yourself, seeking professional assistance is a way to ensure the job is done properly and with great care.
Prevent Buildup in the Condensate Drain Line
Any clog in a line within your household is not ideal, especially when it comes to heating and cooling systems. For the DIY individual, if you can locate the drain line yourself, you can pour a bleach and water solution down the drain to prevent clogs from developing or getting worse. Don’t worry if this is something you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself. With routine HVAC maintenance, your professional servicer at The Cooling Company will check the drain line for any clogging or buildup.
Schedule Routine Maintenance
There’s only so much you can do as a homeowner to ensure your HVAC system is performing as expected. An HVAC professional can help by conducting a thorough inspection and searching for any issues within the unit. Regular professional maintenance can also help prevent problems with your unit and possibly extend its life. As a homeowner, that’s what you want to hear.
With the fall season upon us, it’s time to start thinking about your home’s heating and air conditioning system. Here at The Cooling Company, we want to ensure you know what maintenance tasks you should consider this year. You can schedule a fall maintenance service today with one of our professionals at The Cooling Company. We want to help you ensure that you’re ready for fall!