Spring Furnace and A/C Maintenance Tips
If you’re like most homeowners, your furnace was working overtime to keep you and your family warm and comfortable during this past cold and snowy winter. Now with warmer weather on the way, it’s important to make sure you’re not forgetting about your hard working furnace, especially since your furnace continues to work all year long. Did you know your furnace works alongside your air conditioner in the summer months to help circulate the cool air throughout your home? Here are a few things you should do to care for your furnace in the spring:
Change your Furnace Filter:
The dirtier the filter, the harder your furnace has to work. In fact, a new filter also keeps your air conditioner working smoothly, since your furnace works alongside your cooling system to circulate the conditioned air throughout your home. Having clean filters all year long is an important maintenance step.
Clear the area around your furnace:
Keep the area around your furnace system clean by sweeping or vacuuming out dust and debris and make sure nothing blocks the registers to maintain unimpeded air flow.
Schedule your furnace tune-up and maintenance:
Many parts of your furnace can wear out or become dirty over time and may need to be cleaned or replaced. Some of these items include: belts, pilot light, motor, bearings, and the burner assembly, especially if the furnace is an older model. Booking a professional inspection can help identify any required maintenance to keep your system running smoothly and safely.
It is a good idea to consider doing some basic maintenance on your air conditioning system at the beginning of every cooling season. Harsh winters are especially tough on outdoor equipment. Here are some important things to check before switching the wall thermostat to cooling.
How to inspect the outdoor condenser unit
Inspect the outdoor unit panels: These panels are designed to enclose the electrical connections and must be in place to help protect both you and the system. If you are missing a panel or if the panel is misaligned, this could cause potential risks for both you and the operation of the equipment. If the panel covering the electrical connections is missing or out of place, you should call a qualified technician for an assessment before starting your system.
Remove any condenser covers, coil blankets or lids:If you covered the outdoor coil in order to protect it during the winter months, be sure to remove the cover before starting the system. These covers protect and insulate the coil, but also limit any heat transfer. Starting the system with any of these covers in place, even for a short time, could severely damage your system. Many people forget to remove their covers every year, often resulting in major repairs or even replacement of the whole system.
Repair or replace any damaged pipe insulation:The suction line (the larger copper pipe on the outdoor unit) helps to supply cool refrigerant back to the compressor in the outdoor unit. If the system’s suction pipe has damaged insulation, this could cause a loss of required cooling for the outdoor unit which could damage your system and may also cause you to lose energy as well. The insulation should be intact to maintain system cooling. If the insulation needs replacing, do so before starting the unit. Look on the copper pipe for a size (5/8, 3/4, 7/8, etc.) to determine the coordinate size of insulation. NOTE: ONLY the larger line needs insulation. Do NOT insulate the smaller copper line.
Remove any debris from the outdoor coil:Depending on where you live or what side of the house your system is located on, you might find trash or vegetation blown into or against the coil. The system condenser coils are designed to transfer heat, and any debris limits this effect. To get the best possible performance from your system, remove this debris from the coil and surrounding area.
Checking out the indoor air handler unit
Check the coil drainage hose: This hose (usually plastic) can also be called the “condensate line”. Since the coil’s temperature is lower than the ambient air, water will condense on the coil and drip into the tray below. This condensate needs to flow to a drain or the tray will fill up and flood the unit or potentially spill water into your basement. Check to make sure the line is in the proper place, attached, and will drain to the appropriate location.
Clean the supply vents and return grills:Make sure both the supply and return air grills and vents are open and free of debris.
Turn it on and make sure it works: After the first few minutes, you should feel cool air coming out of the registers. If no air is coming out, or if the air coming out does not feel cool, then something is wrong and you should immediately turn the system off at the thermostat. Leaving the system turned on when it’s not running properly can do a lot of damage. It never hurts to ask an HVAC professional to help diagnose the problems if your system is not working properly.