Your air and heating unit is essential to your comfort at home. It also serves the purpose of keeping moisture to a minimum and filtering out dust and dander from the air. And considering that it can easily cost several thousand dollars replace, it makes sense to spend some time and money keeping it up and running. Here are ideas on how to do that safely and effectively.
Gather Your Tools
When it comes time to tinker with your heater, you need a few tools. Some of them won’t be sitting around in your garage, but they aren’t hard to find.
According to HomeAdvisor, you will need:
Soft paint brush
You can expect to spend somewhere between $50 and $100 and a half a day or so cleaning and inspecting your system. In addition to gathering your tools, you will want to turn the power to the unit off. Find the HVAC system switch, which should be located in your breaker box.
Now that the power’s off and you have your tools in hand, start cleaning the condenser. Then, take a look at the fins and bend them back into shape if necessary. Grab your level to make sure that the concrete slab that your unit sits on is in the correct position, and wedge in a few shims underneath if it needs to go up on either side. If you haven’t yet, rake the leaves and debris from the three or so feet surrounding your unit.
Once the outside of the unit is clean, remove the door from the blower motor housing. This will likely be sealed with shiny foil tape. You will need your paintbrush to dust the coils. If they are excessively dirty, you may need to spray them down with coil cleaner. Your system has a piece called an evaporator drain, which is a small PVC pipe that collects condensation. If this gets clogged, your unit can shut down completely. Clean it by removing the water with your wet vac.
After putting everything back into place, turn the power back on to make sure it starts up. If not, turn the power off again and make sure everything is where it belongs. You can check that each operation (heating and cooling) is working by turning your system up to about 85 degrees for half an hour and then down to approximately 65 degrees for the same amount of time. If you don’t notice any noticeable change in the temperatures when going from hot to cold after about 30 minutes, you may be low on refrigerant, and you will need to call a professional.
Keep It Up
It’s not enough to clean your system once each year. If you want to get the most out of your unit, you have to pay attention to it at least every 90 days. HomeLogic.com’s HVAC maintenance checklist recommends using a high-quality filter and changing it out when it’s dirty. If you have dogs or cats, this may be a monthly occurrence. Lesser quality filters don’t catch as many particles, and that can leave you and your family sniffling, sneezing, and swatting at the air. MERV 8 filters can catch up to 90 percent of indoor allergens and pollutants, which experts believe is pretty ideal for most residences.
Your HVAC unit does a lot for you, so do something for it. Spend some time once a year making sure it’s clean and clear, and change your filters regularly. This small investment of time and money can keep your unit from melting down as summer begins to heat things up.
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