HVAC Tips for Homeowners

(StatePoint) Having a home cooling system that is working optimally is crucial to keeping your family comfortable.

To ensure your air conditioner (AC) continues to function properly, here are some tips for your heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) units: 

• Replace air filters. Ideally, homeowners should replace filters every three months (more often if you have pets) to ensure that air can flow efficiently. When air filters become clogged, your AC becomes less effective at lowering indoor temperatures. Additionally, prolonged use of a dirty or clogged air filter can prevent enough return air from entering and can damage the system. Keeping them clean can also lower your energy consumption by up to 15 percent, ultimately saving you money on energy bills.  

• Check your outdoor unit. Your outdoor unit’s ability to pull in air affects its efficiency. At least twice a month, check for weeds, debris, and potential obstructions. Keep vegetation at least two feet away from the unit.  

• Pay attention to your thermostat. Inspect your thermostat to ensure that it is running properly. If you are leaving the house, turn the thermostat down, but do not turn your system off. It is a common mistake for homeowners to think that turning it off will save them money, however, it costs more money because your system works much harder in order to completely re-heat or re-cool the entire house. Another common mistake is setting the thermostat to a very low temperature to cool the house faster, which does not change the rate at which your AC cools the space. Consider seeking an expert’s opinion on smart thermostats, which automate temperature adjustments.

• Inspect condensation lines. Your AC unit removes moisture as it runs, and sends that water through a drainage pipe. A clogged line will prevent it from running smoothly and could result in costly water damage. Bleach can be used to help prevent algae and mildew buildup.  

• Schedule preventative maintenance. At least once a year, have an HVAC professional diagnose your unit to ensure it is running optimally. Technicians can check for damaged insulation around refrigerant lines or ducts with poor seals, all of which can cause your system to lose efficiency and increase your energy bill. A professional can also clean the AC unit by checking for and removing dirt or debris that may clog filters and coils.  

Call a NATE-certified professional. Technicians certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE) have proven their knowledge and expertise in HVACR by passing specialized certification exams. Electrical issues, compressor failure and frozen coils are a few common causes of unit failure, and finding a trained, qualified technician to resolve your issue is crucial. Visit the NATE website, www.natex.org to find more helpful HVACR resources and a local contractor that employs NATE-certified technicians.

By taking a few DIY maintenance measures, and by knowing when to get professional assistance, you can help keep your home cool and bills low.

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