After our blast of Arctic air in mid-January, it’s perfectly reasonable to dream of spring. When we start envisioning flower gardens and breezy weather, it means one more thing: it’s time for your spring HVAC maintenance.
The fall and the spring are the perfect opportunities to tidy up your system and check for any necessary repairs. The weather is a bit more temperate, so should something look astray, you can comfortably shut your system off for repairs.
Benefits of Preparing HVAC for Spring
With the hustle of spring activities, skipping out on prepping your system for Spring is understandable, but before you trade in your HVAC walk-through for soccer practice, it pays to understand the benefits… and time is of the essence. Winter and summer are peak seasons for companies, so spring is an easier time to schedule timely repairs if there is an issue.
Improved energy efficiency
One of the main benefits of “spring cleaning” your HVAC system is increased energy efficiency. The cleaner your system, the fewer obstacles it has when running, the more energy efficient your system will be. Consider driving a car with a small leak in the tire. Can you run it? Sure, but you must constantly stop to add more air. If you instead attend to the leak, plugging the hole, you become more efficient. Your HVAC system acts the same way.
Extended lifespan of the HVAC system
If you drive on a leaky tire long enough, you risk it busting mid-drive. The same is true with your HVAC system. If something is wrong, the additional strain of running your system with a compromised part puts it at risk of breakdown or early wear out. Driving your car with a slowly flattening wheel also puts other parts at risk – you could damage the tire, or a blowout may put other components or vehicles at risk.
A simple dirty air filter can snowball when your system has to push harder to move air. The blower could wear out, or the compressor may not be able to function correctly. Short cycling could occur, causing your system to run longer than necessary, wearing the unit out faster.
Enhanced indoor air quality
If your system needs maintenance, it is understandable that your air quality will decrease. When air cannot move as designed through your home, moisture and buildup occur. Your air filter cannot catch everything it needs when overloaded and can push debris back into your home. Allergens combined with stagnant air make for a noticeable decrease in air quality.
When your system works harder to complete the same job, you see it in your monthly bills. Overuse comes at a tangible cost by way of your energy usage and repair bills. Setting aside a day in early spring for maintenance puts green back in your wallet.
Key Components of HVAC System
You would only work on your car with a specific plan and understanding of the inner workings. Treat your HVAC system the same. Air conditioners contain refrigerants, and furnaces can have gas or oil lines. These have inherent risks due to the fuel. Both systems become inefficient or unusable if the system is inundated by incorrect maintenance.
Air Conditioning Unit
As the weather changes from frigid to wet and muggy, your AC unit quickly becomes your saving grace. Ensure it is in tip-top shape for the ensured weather.
Inspect the outdoor condenser unit
Although the name can be intimidating, the outdoor condenser unit is simply the outdoor unit for your air conditioning. The unit removes heat from the indoor air and releases it outside your home.
Perform a visual inspection. Look at the area around your unit. Is it level and stable? Is there debris around the unit, potentially inhibiting airflow? Are there dents or cracks in the unit? Is anything broken? Are you missing panels? If you see damage of any sort, call Leckron’s Comfort Solutions to set up an inspection.
If you placed a cover on the unit to protect it from winter’s elements, it is time to take it off and allow your unit to have appropriate airflow. Clear brush or debris from the unit, and remove dust or pollen from the unit. You can do this with a garden hose, but be careful to avoid electrical panels or spraying directly inside the unit. Finally, keep mulch away from the unit to ensure proper airflow.
Lastly, look at the lines running into your home from the unit. Is the insulation damaged? If so, you want to fix this, as it protects the refrigerant. If you need to know the size of the insulation, consult your manual or call Leckron’s for suggestions.
Replace air filters
Air filters are one of the most manageable HVAC maintenance tasks you can do. You need to swap out your filters every three months, give or take, depending on your home usage. Spring maintenance is an excellent moment to do so.
Clogged filters cost you money and take years off the lifespan of your unit. Overwork can lead to burnout of parts and wasted energy. Use your current filter as a guide and purchase replacements at your local hardware store. Depending on your home’s needs, you may need a particular type of filter for your unit.
Check and clean the evaporator and condenser coils
Keeping the indoor evaporator coils and the outdoor condenser coils clean ensures that your system runs at its top shape. When dirt, dust, and sludge pile up on the coils, your unit cannot cool or release heat as efficiently. This struggle spells danger of your unit needing replaced sooner than it should.
Prevent this by using canned air to spray off the coils. The outdoor coils may need a rinse. If you choose to do that, wait until they are thoroughly dry to start the unit. Should the coils be filthy or you are hesitant to take the job on yourself, Leckron’s is here for you!
Check the condensate drain
The condensate drain, located by your indoor unit, removes moisture collected from the air when your AC unit runs. The coils above the tray are colder than the air, creating condensation on the coils when the air contacts them. Eventually, this water drips into the pan below the coils.
A line flows from this tray to a drain so the tray does not overflow. If the line is bumped, broken, or cracked, or there is a clog in the drainage hole, the water can overflow, causing a mess in your basement. Recheck this tray after a scorching day when condensation will likely form on the coils.
Verify refrigerant levels
Before you have a dire need for air conditioning, ensure your refrigerant levels are where they should be. A skilled technician is trained to do this safely and can replenish lost refrigerant. When the levels are too low, you may see ice buildup, hear a louder unit than expected, or notice your temperature running higher. Refrigerant should not leak or disappear, so if it is low, your technician should troubleshoot to find a leak.
Calibrating thermostat settings
Calibration is a fancy way of saying that your thermostat should match the room’s temperature reading. Place a thermometer in a paper towel near the thermostat, keeping out of direct sunlight or drafts. Wait 15 minutes and read the thermometer and thermostat. Ideally, you’d want them no more than a 1-3 degree difference. Anything above that requires you to adjust your thermostat.
Consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat to reduce wasted energy to heat or cool a house that is sitting unused.
Although you don’t plan on heating your home in the summer, it is a good idea to use this time to inspect your heating system after keeping up with Jack Frost. Since you are already changing the filter and testing the thermostat for any discrepancies, inspecting your heating system should be painless.
Listen, smell, and look for strange leaks, smells, sounds, or anything unusual. If it is an issue you can fix with a DIY solution, now would be the time, but it often requires the skilled hand of a technician. If you schedule your annual inspection with Leckron’s, our technicians will clean, inspect, and add the lubrication necessary for moving parts.
Although your vents are tucked away, hidden behind walls and in ceilings, you still need to give them a little attention during your spring prep.
Cleaning air ducts
If you pushed the limit when changing your filters, have done a recent renovation, or have a busy home with pets, there is a chance your vents could harbor mold, dander, or other allergen. Clean them before spring to free your air from these irritants. Most homeowners get ducts professionally cleaned about every seven years; however, for a better idea of how often to have them professionally cleaned, check out Leckron’s Guide to Duct Cleaning.
Check the ductwork
Walk around your home and ensure there are no leaks in the ductwork. Wet your hand and place it by the ducts. Can you feel a breeze? Use a candle or tissue to check for airflow coming from any exposed ducts. If there is, use mastic tape to seal any leaks.
Ensuring proper ventilation for each room
HVAC systems work as a unit, with your ducts delivering heat to each room. Keeping doors and registers open allows for the proper airflow. Ensure nothing prevents vents or registers from delivering or taking air from each room.
Outdoor Maintenance Tips
Once you have checked your unit for issues, it is time to focus on Mother Nature’s effects. Head outdoors to your unit. Clean debris around the unit and cut back vegetation pressing up or blocking the airflow to your unit. Once your spot is cleaned, further inspect your unit, looking for damage from fallen tree limbs, corrosion, or winter’s elements. Then, consider spring’s weather and what it could mean for your unit. Do you need to safeguard it against any potential storms, quick-growing plants, or downspouts that could cause the ground to shift?
DIY Tips for Homeowners
At Leckron’s Comfort Solutions, we want our families to feel empowered when it comes to their HVAC systems. Only some jobs require a technician’s skilled hand, and understanding which tasks require someone trained professionally is vital. Tinkering can cause significant damage to your unit. With gas, oil, and refrigerant, the last thing you want is to generate a leak. Therefore, we created the Common HVAC Problems and How to Fix Them: A DIY Guide. Before you start any DIY project, ensure you use proper safety precautions, including cutting power to the unit.
With consistency in the upkeep of your AC unit, you can avoid premature breakdown or parts overworking. Regular maintenance allows you to get to know your system to identify when something seems out of place. A small repair cost now saves you the fallout of a breakdown later.
Troubleshoot your system before calling in the pros with our Guide to Troubleshooting your HVAC System. You may find the problem is one you can solve yourself. Other times, it may be evident that a tech is necessary, but you can still save money and time by providing the lowdown on what you have observed.
Professional HVAC Maintenance Services
After troubleshooting and DIYing, you may still need professional services. Even without an issue, regular maintenance by a professional keeps your system running smoother, longer.
Don’t let the term “regular maintenance” intimidate you. When it comes to professionals, regular doesn’t mean monthly. Most professionals recommend a checkup in the spring and fall. Always check your warranty to ensure your maintenance frequency matches what the manufacturer requires.
Although Leckron’s Comfort Solutions goes above the six tasks listed below, your routine AC maintenance visit will include:
- ensure the thermostat is installed correctly and away from heat sources
- tighten all electrical connections
- check system controls
- lubricate moving parts to prevent wear and tear
- check the condensate drain line for clogs
- repair refrigerant leaks and recharge refrigerant
Spring cleaning isn’t just for your cupboards
With about a month until we are officially in spring, now is the time to prep your system for the increased demand on your AC unit. Ensure your HVAC is ready for the job.
Anything you can’t do yourself, Leckron’s has your back. Prepping for the weather shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, which is why we have affordable options for homeowners. For just $89, we offer a tune-up that includes a performance check and visual inspection of all components.
We are a first time customer of Leckron’s Comfort Solutions. Every aspect of the experience was excellent — from the initial phone call, to the tech, the timeliness and the professional manner with all communication. We’ll definitely be a repeat customer and would highly recommend them. ~ David B., customer
Pay attention to your HVAC system before the peak season of summer air conditioner failures. Give it some love today. Schedule your seasonal maintenance with Leckron’s Comfort Solutions today!