When it comes to the comfortability and cleanliness of the air around you and your family, there is no more critical task than regular maintenance of your HVAC system. We ask many of our HVAC systems, especially those in southeast Texas, with our 100-degree summer days and unexplainable 20-degree with stiff wind winter nights. When your HVAC system is battling harsh weather, it needs to be in pristine condition to ensure that it will run at peak efficiency and performance. The best insurance you can buy against HVAC system failure is to have a regular schedule of maintenance.
We’re not pointing any fingers, but there are many people out there abusing their HVAC systems. I’m guilty too, I once lived in an apartment for ten years and never knew that there was a changeable filter in my central air conditioner. I grew up with window units. What did I know? Now, I can’t be the only person in the world that’s made that mistake, and if my tale hits close to home for you, you should probably schedule an HVAC maintenance call today.
What is HVAC Maintenance?
When our HVAC system seems to be working correctly, we’re often content to ignore it until a problem pops up. While it may save you a few dollars to skip the regular maintenance your system requires in the short term, the possibility of a catastrophic failure increases every year. Without documentation of routine maintenance, chances are any claims against your insurance or the claims against the HVAC system’s manufacturer will likely be denied.
You wouldn’t drive your car for 15 years and never get the oil changed, would you? Well, a lot of folks do just that with their HVAC systems, running them hard and putting them away wet. With the creative analogies out of the way, let’s look at some reasons why a homeowner would want their HVAC system to be correctly maintained.
What is the Procedure for HVAC Maintenance Service?
Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning uses a multi-point checklist to inspect, test for, and correct any current or potential problems with your HVAC system. We encourage our customers to learn how to perform basic maintenance tasks, like changing air filters and cleaning supply and return HVAC vents. We’ll happily show anyone how to change their HVAC filters in between annual maintenance visits. While the do-it-yourself method is excellent for the simple tasks above, many checks and tests should only be performed by trained HVAC technicians with the proper tools.
Check the Thermostat:
Aside from the actual air conditioner and furnace components, the thermostat is an essential part of any HVAC system. Since most of us rely on our thermostats to regulate our homes’ comfort level, yours must be in proper working condition. Try thinking of the thermostat as your home comfort system’s brain, as it performs complex functions, regulating the heating, humidity control, and cooling of your house.
Checking and Tightening Electrical Connections:
Your HVAC system, especially the air conditioning side, devours electricity, drawing double the amount of voltage than any other home appliance. Every component of an HVAC system requires some level of electrical current to operate, with several connections for each one. All HVAC related wiring is checked for overall condition, voltage levels are tested with a multimeter, loose connections are tightened, and any connectors in poor condition will need to be replaced at an additional cost.
Cleaning and Tune-Up of Outdoor AC Unit:
Protective grates and coverings are removed; the fan and its motor are cleared of any debris that has gotten inside the unit. The condensate pan and its drain holes will be cleared of debris, checked for corrosion and proper drainage. The condenser coils are sprayed with a chemical solution and hosed off to clean away any buildup of dirt, pollen, or other filth that can inhibit heat transfer. Before replacing the protective housing, any moving parts that require lubrication, like fan motors, are inspected and serviced.
Check and Adjust Refrigerant Levels:
Having the proper amount of refrigerant in your air conditioner is vital if you want to save money on your energy costs. Systems with too little refrigerant can’t effectively diffuse the heat from the air being drawn through the condenser coils, causing slightly chilled air to circulate around your home, picking up humidity. Hot air blowing out of your air conditioning system is a sign that you have too much refrigerant, with the excess heat being generated by the overworked condensing lines in the coil. Increased internal failures of seals, fittings, even the condenser itself can be blamed on too much liquid refrigerant, usually causing leaks at any connection points.
Don’t Forget the Furnace:
With the subtropical climate of Houston, TX, it can slip our minds that we even have a furnace, let alone knowing it needs regular maintenance. Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning’s HVAC maintenance service includes a thorough inspection of your furnace along with its related components. Heat exchangers are checked for cracks that can lead to carbon monoxide leaks, the blower motor and its fan are cleaned, and all electrical connections are checked by eye and with a meter.
Most modern HVAC systems large (25″ wide X 25″ high) woven fiberglass panels stacked on top of one another to a thickness of 4 – 5″, secured in a cardboard frame. The woven panels’ density determines their efficacy in removing all types of particulate matter from any air drawn through them. Some systems use smaller, thinner filters in the air intake vents installed throughout your home; regardless of their design, they need to be replaced at least every 3 – 6 months.
What Are the Benefits of HVAC Maintenance?
By having a regular maintenance schedule for your HVAC system, you are helping to extend its useful life. Scheduled maintenance services allow technicians to look closely at your HVAC system’s components that may be showing signs of impending failure. If you can address the forthcoming repair issues before they become an inconvenient (and expensive) reminder of the joys of owning a home, you may save yourself thousands of dollars in the future.
Another significant benefit to HVAC system maintenance is that it can reduce your electricity and gas usage by as much as 30%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By changing out the air filters in your HVAC system, cleaning dust out of your ductwork and vents, along with having the right amount of freon, you can start to see improvements in your energy bills in the next billing cycle.
Cleaner Indoor Air:
Regular HVAC maintenance keeps dust, dirt, germs, mold, mildew, dead skin, dust mites, allergens, and other irritants at bay adding to improved indoor air quality (IAQ). Some notable changes can occur after an HVAC maintenance service; homeowners experience fewer respiratory issues (no stuffy noses, less sneezing, and coughing), less surface dust, and just an overall “cleaner” smell to the indoor air.
There are several moving parts in any HVAC system, mainly fans and blower motors that push air into or pull air out of the rooms in your home. The location of your outdoor AC unit must be out of direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day. This placement will help minimize peak energy usage costs and keep your AC system from having to work as hard, thus reducing wear and tear. When HVAC fans are about to fail, they tend to give us at least a little warning. Unusual squeaking, banging in the walls, and hissing sounds coming from the attic can all be signs of a worn blower or fan motor.
Keep Your Home and Family Safer:
Regular HVAC maintenance has the added benefit of improving the overall safety of your home. As part of our HVAC maintenance service, Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning also checks your natural gas lines and electrical connections for proper fit and function, as well as for leaks. Even the smallest gas leak can become a deadly matter with literally a flash, where carbon monoxide from a poorly vented furnace affects us a little more slowly, often causing symptoms of exposure like dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and unconsciousness well before death.
The longer you and your family are exposed to toxic gasses, the more long-term damage can occur to your health. Memory problems, difficulty concentrating, partial loss of vision or hearing, and even some Parkinson’s Disease cases have been attributed to prolonged exposure to carbon dioxide. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning always recommends installing a carbon monoxide detector as a complement to your already existing smoke alarms.
Decrease Your Carbon Footprint:
Well-maintained HVAC systems consume far less energy than those fighting against clogged filters and squeaky fan motors to keep us comfortable. Properly maintained HVAC systems use 30% less energy, which is always better for the planet, regardless of your fuel source.
Show your home’s heating and air conditioning systems some appreciation by giving them a “day at the spa” with a Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning HVAC maintenance service. By investing a few dollars in a regular maintenance schedule, you have peace of mind, knowing you’re less likely to have HVAC problems and that you’re getting the most out of your HVAC systems.