Homeowners in Dartmouth and surrounding communities do as much as they can to take care of their homes, and many look for ways to better manage their budgets. One of the most common DIY projects for homeowners is performing HVAC maintenance and the end of the summer. At Shines Energy, we recommend that routine maintenance be performed on residential heating and cooling systems in the spring and autumn. When you are ready to do your HVAC maintenance at the end of the summer, here is a list of the areas in your HVAC system that need attention.
The filters in your HVAC system are important because they remove airborne particles, such as dust, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, mold spores, and viruses. Over time, the fibers of the filters get filled with these particulates. Your AC system will continue to run, but it requires more energy to keep your home and family cool and comfortable. We recommend that you change your filters at least two times per year, and the end of summer and winter are the ideal times. When you change out the filters, consider upgrading to capture odors, and keep your home smelling fresh.
2. Exterior Unit
The exterior unit of your cooling system needs some attention as part of your DIY end-of-summer maintenance. Look for any signs of damage, such as dents and loose bolts at the base of the unit. Look around the unit for any debris or items that are close to the unit. Clear a space of at least one to two feet. We also recommend that Dartmouth homeowners erect a small enclosure for their exterior HVAC equipment to protect it from high winds and flying debris during storms in the fall and winter.
When you are checking the exterior unit, also look for signs of pest infestation and insects. Small creatures can get inside the unit, break down small components, and even find a way into your ducts. We have worked in many homes in the Dartmouth area where, much to the horror of homeowners, small critters had made their homes within the ducts and close to the air vents.
The condenser of many residential AC units is located outdoors. As part of the cooling process, moisture builds up on the condenser and drips down to the lower part of the unit. There is a small tube and drain that removes the water from the unit. Check the tube and drain to make sure that it is not clogged. If a find a problem, rinse the tube and drain with warm water. Avoid using any sharp objects or pushing anything into the drain and tube. This may cause damage and require replacing these parts.
As moisture collects on the coils that contain refrigerant, it creates an ideal environment for dust and dirt to stick to the coils. Even if the coils look clean, you should rinse them with a garden hose. Use only a mild spray of water. If the force of the water is too strong, you risk losing electrical connections and possibly shorting out the unit. You also want to check the coils for signs of damage and normal wear and tear.
Check all the vents inside your home as part of your end-of-summer HVAC maintenance. First, turn on the AC, and make sure that the airflow and temperature are the same from all of the vents. You can find thermometers for this purpose at a local hardware or home improvement store. Next, remove the cover from each vent. Look inside the ducts for excess dirt and debris. You should also look for signs of pests, such as piles of debris or droppings. If you do find that the interior of the ducts is dirty, clean the ducts as far as you can reach. Make sure to wear a mask. The best method is to use a vacuum cleaner to remove most of the debris, and then wipe down the ducts with an antibacterial spray and rag.
You may not have access to the entire network of ducts in your home, but you should inspect whatever areas are accessible, including in your basement and attic. Look for tears in the sides of the ducts, loose or broken connections at the junctures, and broken brackets. Any problems should be repaired to ensure that your HVAC system will work this winter to keep your family comfortable and warm.
8. Electrical Components
Many of the repairs that we perform at Shines Energy for residential HVAC systems are electrical in nature. Checking your electrical components as part of your end-of-summer maintenance reduces the chances of having a heating emergency this winter. When you inspect the wires, look for any tears in the outside casing, as well as loose and broken wires. Do not touch the wires unless you have the power turned off at the circuit breaker. If you do find an issue, schedule an appointment with one of our technicians.
Modern AC systems are designed to contain refrigerant inside the unit, but accidents do happen. Check the refrigerant level in your air conditioning system at the end of the summer. Even though you won’t be using the unit until next summer, it is always a good idea to take care of problems now rather than wait until you need cooling in your home. Refrigerant leaks need to be repaired. Please keep in mind that refrigerant problems represent a hazard risk and are best handled by a professional HVAC technician.
The thermostat is the last area of your HVAC system to check as part of your end-of-summer maintenance. You will need a thermometer to check the air temperature in each room. First, set the thermostat at a slightly lower setting to power on the AC system. Go room by room and check the temperature of the air coming out of the vent, as well as the ambient temperature in the room. To check the air from the vent, hold the thermometer in the airflow for about one to two minutes. To check the temperature in the room, keep the thermometer in the space for at least 15 minutes. There will be a slight difference between the air from the vent and the room temperature, but you want it to be close to the setting on your thermostat.
Want Some Help with Your End of Summer Maintenance?
Performing end of summer maintenance for your air conditioning system is important to keep the unit running efficiently and affordably. Doing it on your own takes a great amount of time and effort, even if you have some DIY skills. If you prefer to have a professional take care of the maintenance, call Shines Energy to schedule an appointment. We can help with all of your heating and cooling needs any time of the year, including installations, repairs, and maintenance.