HVAC systems keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If your system breaks down, it could lead to uncomfortable and even unsafe living conditions. While not all issues can be avoided, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of having your air conditioning system break down.
How to Prevent an HVAC Breakdown
1. Clean or Change Your Filter
Your AC filter catches dust and other particles, thereby preventing them from entering your system and plugging up the cooling coil. Some AC units have permanent filters which can be vacuumed or washed, while others use disposable ones. Change the filter according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule, which may be as short as 30 days or as long as six months. If you have pets or smokers in the home, you may want to replace your filter more often than the manufacturer recommends.
2. Clear Any Surrounding Debris
Your outdoor condenser unit needs ample clearance to maintain optimal airflow. Moreover, having small sticks, stones, foliage and other debris nearby increases the risk that foreign matter could get stuck in the system coils. For these reasons, you should keep the area surrounding your outdoor unit free of any obstructions and plant life.
3. Keep the Vents Open
It’s a common misconception that closing the air vents in unused areas of your home will reduce the strain on your AC by causing it to run less often. In reality, this can cause premature blower motor failure because of increased back pressure within the duct system. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep all air vents open in your home. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure there’s nothing blocking the air returns, so that air can flow freely throughout the system.
4. Watch for Leaks
Air conditioners are “closed systems,” meaning refrigerant should never leak out of the system. Unlike our cars, AC systems are not designed to be “topped off” every few years. So, when your system loses refrigerant, that indicates your air conditioner has a leak that needs to be repaired. Most refrigerant leaks are so small that you never notice them. Large leaks can result in an oily residue in or on your system. Most leaks occur on the outside coil (condenser) or the inside coil (evaporator). If you notice an oily spot anywhere on your AC system, call a technician sooner rather than later.
5. Clean the Coils
Warm air travels over your air conditioning system’s coils to become cool. Therefore, having clean coils leads to better airflow, which leads to higher operating efficiency, which leads to lower energy costs and less strain on your unit. Failure to properly maintain the filters on your air conditioner can result in plugging up the internal coil and reducing air flow. Likewise, permitting plant debris (grass clippings, leaves, dust, dirt) to accumulate on the outside unit’s coils also plug it up, thereby causing several problems. Proper cleaning of the coils requires partial disassembly of your AC system, so you may want to call an expert AC technician to perform the cleaning every year. While they are cleaning your system, they should also test your AC unit to determine if electrical and safety components are operating within the manufacturer’s specifications.
One final but important way to reduce the risk of AC breakdowns is to schedule annual preventative maintenance. Turn to the pros at Jon’s Plumbing & Heating in Mount Vernon for your yearly system maintenance. In addition to preventive services, our trusted team also provides timely heating and cooling repairs. Request an estimate online or by calling (740) 392-5667.