As the weather finally begins warm up in eastern Pennsylvania, we find ourselves in that wonderful time of year between shutting off the heat and turning on the air conditioning. Spring cleaning shouldn’t just be about getting rid of clutter and cleaning out the cobwebs; it’s also time to think about routine home maintenance.
Bi-annual maintenance and checkups are important to extending the lifespan of your heating and air conditioning units, ensuring that they run efficiently and decreasing heating and cooling costs. But there are other things that home owners can do to prepare an HVAC system for the coming months.
Here are five easy things you can do to improve air quality and care for your heating and air conditioning systems in their off season, in addition to scheduling a regular checkup with an HVAC technician.
1. Enjoy the Spring Air
Believe it or not, but the air quality in your home can actually decrease during the winter. The lack of fresh air circulating can increase the level of allergens and contribute to mold growth. Thankfully there is a quick fix for this problem. Simply open your windows and sliding doors to allow fresh air to flow throughout your home, naturally ventilating all the living spaces.
2. Shut Down Your Furnace Properly
As you prepare to turn off your furnace for the season, without touching the electrical parts, inspect the unit for connections that look loose, warning lights or unusual noises. Check that the pilot light (if your unit has one); it should burn steadily and have a blue color. If, for any reason, the furnace doesn’t seem to be running normally, mention it to your HVAC technician at the next maintenance appointment.
3. Clear the Way for Optimal Air Flow
Spring cleaning should apply to your HVAC unit as well. Be sure to clean the outside of the furnace; dust is a fire hazard and removing it also helps improve the quality of the air circulating through the system.
Before the summer heat arrives, take the time to clean around your outdoor unit. Air conditioning systems need 12 to 18 inches of clearance space in order to work properly. Prune bushes, trim back any plants and grass growing near the unit and clear away leaves, twigs and dirt which can all enter into your system and slow it down.
4. Clear the Air
Spring is a good time to vacuum registers and air filters to clear out any dust that has accumulated. You should replace the used, worn-out air filter before turning off the heat for the season. Remember that HVAC system filters should be replaced at least every 90 days. If you have pets, or if someone in your family suffers from allergies, filters can be changed more frequently – about every 30 days.
For optimal indoor air quality, now is the time to schedule professional duct cleaning. Before turning on the A/C, it’s good to free ducts of dust and allergens that have built up during the winter. We recommend a good cleaning every five to seven years.
5. Keep Cool Without Turning on the A/C (Yet)
It may not sound like an important piece of advice, but spring and fall are the best seasons for enjoying fresh air and naturally pleasant temperatures. These are also the two times during the year when you can effectively save on utility costs.
Stretch out this period of energy savings – between turning off the furnace and turning on the air conditioning – by closing the window shades and curtains before leaving the house. This will decrease the amount of sun that enters and warms the interior during the day. Ceiling and box fans can also help maintain comfort levels and contain energy costs, but remember to turn them off when you leave as they cool people, not rooms.
Don’t Wait, Get a Tune Up
So many people make the mistake of waiting until they really need their HVAC unit working to schedule tune ups, repairs and replacements. Why risk it?
Spare yourself the headache and hassle; schedule furnace maintenance – cleaning, lubrication and component check – now. Caring for your furnace now will guarantee that it’s ready for next winter, before it gets cold, and that it will work well for years to come.
Similarly, you should consider getting the air conditioning unit serviced before the summer heat is upon us. It’s better for your unit, and less expensive in the long run, to maintain the parts in good working condition and have problems fixed before they become serious. Regular maintenance helps the system to run at peak efficiency by clearing air conditioning coils of dust and dirt, cleaning the filters and condensate drain, refilling the refrigerant that has been consumed and checking the condition of the safety devices, wiring, blower motor, coils, fan blades. With regular servicing, the life of a central air unit should reach 15 to 20 years.
With the summer months on the horizon, now is also a great time to talk with your technician about testing the seal on your air ducts and the possibility of installing a smart thermostat to keep your home comfortable and your utility bills low.
Call AQM Today
To get an appointment for seasonal maintenance service by a certified technician, call AQM today at (610) 363-3940 or request an estimate online for repairs and unit replacement. We offer electrical, HVAC and generator servicing, installation and replacement for residential and commercial buildings in southeastern Pennsylvania – throughout Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.