I hope you have a trusted HVAC company watching out for your HVAC system, but there are still some things you need to do, or make sure you have them covered. We are going to call them mandatory for you, but just so you have them covered.
Please make sure you have a maintenance contract. It makes sense to have someone watching out for your HVAC system that stands as a sentinel, giving you your best chance to avoid catastrophic loss of heating or cooling. We cover the reasons this makes sense here. Oh, and who are you responsible for? make sure they are covered too. LINK
These important HVAC issues depend on you.
Make sure you think about your HVAC system before it breaks
Do you have an estimate for major improvements to your HVAC unit? Or do you know it has been some time since you had some major work done. This issue in not something to avoid. There is never a better time than the presenct to evaluate what is happening with your HVAC. The worst time to make decisions is when your system is down. We talk about being proactive and the headaches you can prevent here as we discuss the best time to be thinking about your HVAC system.
Make sure you have all the facts you need before your next upgrade.
You next purchase needs to solve your comfort or reliability issues, not be a better match for the resources and stock pile of any HVAC service company. Make sure you are taking a comprehensive look at your home and have a complete understanding of what your options are before you make your next purchase. There are a number of questions that need answers. We explore these here. . LINK
Let’s get into some specific issues
Drain line inspection and cleaning
When your air conditioner cools your home water vapor in the air condenses and collects in the evaporator and needs to be jettisoned from your home. The pan has a small drain pipe that will either lead outside the home, into the crawl space or to the condensate pump. Here is better orientation to what we are talking about here.
It is important as a homeowner to know where this drain area is so that you can check for a clog or blockage. If it is blocked, the condensate water will collect and remain in the pan below the coils. This is a breeding ground for mold. Anytime the relative humidity in the air is above 60% and a food source of organic materials such as dust and/or construction debris is present, mold can grow.
Now your maintenance contract might cover regular attention to this drainage system. It often does not. There is a complaint registered at the Fort Worth BBB where a customer registered a complaint about leak damage to a ceiling caused by a clogged and overflowing drainage pan on an air handler in the attic space. The defense of the HVAC contractor was that it was none of his business, but was the responsibility of the homeowner. KNOW YOUR STATUS HERE. We discuss HVAC drainage systems here.
Make sure you have a plan to change the filter in your air handler on a regular basis. Make sure you know what kinds of filters you are using, and how often they need to be changed and that you know the proper procedure for changing them.
A responsible HVAC service company should have carefully explained this to you. That works great. You just need a process for making sure filters get changed on a regular basis. Filter changes are critical to the proper operation of your equipment and can impact the health of your family members when maintenance is neglected.
You might have a maintenance service plan where your service company takes care of filter changes for you. This is perfectly fine. You just need a working plan.
How long has it been since you checked your filters? If you do not know, check on them now. Time flies and clogged filters are serious. If you do not know the plan here, find the person who knows. Someone needs to check on the filters, needs to update on the cycle for changing them, and not only change the filters if they show dirt, but put a plan in place to see that the filters are changed ona proper schedule. . Thank googness we have digital calendars, tec. to make it easy. Don’t use a digital calendar? Hate technology? Find a good friend to help you here. Or the right HVAC service company would be glad to help here.
Make sure filter door seals well. You do not want vacuum leaks here. Filters always need to be sized accurately, and the door seal must not leak and allow outside air to enter your air handler without passing through the filter. Dump on your wet evaporator coils with gunk up and cause problems. We talk about issues with Filters in more depth here. LINK
If you have a HVAC company you trust and you are having issues with filters and proper sizing and any issues with leaky and poor fitting filter door closures; well, you need to be evaluating your service company. This is basic HVAC execution and system maintenance and proper system design and construction.
You should expect to have easy access to your filter changing area. It should be quite easy to change the filters without hassle, risk to fingers and without strain. Enough said.
Protecting your Air Conditioner from coil cloggings
Take a look at that air conditioner. It sits outside in all kinds of weather and it can pick up gunk and pollen, and, it just might pay to check on it when the blossoms and pollen is falling from the trees. Do you have poplars around or some other tree that drops blossoms or lots of pollen for air blown fertilization?
What can happen? What is the threat here?
Your A/C unit must cast off a lot of hot air to keep your home cool. Your A/C works quite efficiently as a heat pump which we describe in detail here. LINK You have a powerful fan to drive air out the top of the A/C which draws in cooler ambient air to take heat out of the condenser coils.
This is the process where the excess heat in your home is cast away. If some or most of the screen through which the cooling air is sucked in are blocked with gunk, your system is not getting the cooling air it needs and this can stress and even destroy your compressor in the A/C.
A little clogging simply causes the system to simply not running as efficiently as it should, which means the unit has to work harder to cool the home. If it’s overworked, it’s also more likely to break down. Serious clogging can cause imminent system failure requiring expensive repairs why you wait for cool to return.
If you have a maintenance contractor with an HVAC service company, they come around on a set time frame and check of the outdoor blower. Some systems have sensors that report to the HVAC company that your equipment is under stress. You should be all right if nothing like what we discribed above could happen in your back yard.
Oh, and your AC unit should be sitting on a concrete slab and have the bushes and grass cut around it. Your service company should be doning this for you, or be telling you to do it, if it is on your list of chores. Find out the responsibilities here and make sure this cannot be happening at your home.
Other Options on A/C Cleaning
You can clean it yourself. This takes some planning. Search google for cleaning air conditioning unit. Do not just race off with the garden hose. Power needs to be off and you need a special cleaner. Get the details or just make sure you have a plan for a clean A/C unit.
You can also invest in sensors which notify your HVAC company of mechanical issues and alert them to take action. This kind of technology will proliferate faster in the future. You might want to consider such technology in your next upgrade plans. This would depend on your particular risk for clogging events at your location.
You need a clear understanding your ducting system plays in making your HVAC system work properly and keep you comfortable.
This is not work you can do, but you do have to have the presence of mind to
- understand what defects in your HVAC system can cause
- have an understanding of the critical role of ducting
- have an understanding of the myths associated with HVAC
- understand what you can do yourself
- understand the questions you must ask
- and understand who is the right expert to call to make sure you are covered properly
- make sure they are watching out for you and not what best fits the HVAC service company interests.
Any comments? Anything to add? Anything to complain about? Please leave a comment.