The secret to an energy-efficient and effective heating and cooling system is the same secret to a car that runs smoothly and lasts a long time: maintenance. When you take care of large, complex machines like your furnace and air conditioner, these machines will in turn take care of you by keeping you comfortable, healthy and stress-free throughout the hottest and coldest seasons of the year. While we strongly recommend professional maintenance once per year on each of these systems, we also recognize that self-maintenance throughout the year can go a long way toward keeping your HVAC system working as it should.
Here are a few easy things you can do to self-maintain your HVAC system and improve its efficiency between professional tune-up services!
Clean Outdoor Compressors
Every central air conditioning system and most ductless split systems these days have two primary components: an indoor unit that distributes the cold air into your home and an outdoor unit that removes the heat extracted from within your home as a part of the cooling process. This outdoor unit is known as your “compressor” and it can become pretty dirty after a while. A dirty compressor is a less-efficient compressor, as it can’t shed the heat nearly as easily. During particularly hot weather, this effect is magnified.
We recommend cleaning the area around your outdoor unit regularly. This means sweeping away any leaves, dirt, or other debris that may have built up around it. Create a radius of at least six feet around your outdoor unit and cut the grass down around it (if necessary) to encourage maximum airflow. Finally, use a hose to spray your outdoor unit to remove dust and debris that may have become lodged in the cooling fins.
Trim Away Foliage
Foliage that surrounds your outdoor unit can be a huge problem for an HVAC system. We recommend cutting and trimming away any bushes, plants, hedges or other plant life that is growing within a six-foot radius of your HVAC system. Trimming will ensure that not only does your system have the airflow that it needs, but also that any debris that your plants accidentally drop, like leaves or sticks, doesn’t get sucked into the air current being pulled into your HVAC system, where it can become lodged in cooling fins or within the system itself. This is something you typically will only need to do once a year or once every other year, but make sure that you get it done—your system will thank you for it.
Change Air Filters
When it comes to indoor maintenance, there may be no more important step than changing your air filter. Your air filter may be a small and inexpensive part compared to the rest of your HVAC system, but the overwhelming majority of air conditioning and heating problems can be connected to a dirty air filter, both directly and indirectly. That’s why we strongly recommend checking your air filter at least once a month and then replacing it as necessary -(which should probably be roughly every three to four months for most houses. This can help you avoid a breakdown including worn-out blower fans, frozen air conditioners, damaged heating elements and so much more. Likewise, it can help to keep your heating and cooling system more reliable and energy efficient!
Elsewhere on Our Blog
Elsewhere this month, we took a close look at something that has been a huge topic of interest here in California over the last several months: rolling blackouts and power outages. We first discussed a few ways you can keep the lights on at home during a power outage so you don’t have to worry about being without power for an extended period of time. With blackouts during fire season often lasting for several hours at a time, following these tips could be crucial to keeping your life on track.
Likewise, we took a close look at why now is the best time to invest in solar. With so much happening in our electrical infrastructure and power stability continuing to decline, now is the best time to take control over your energy supply and start harvesting the power of the sun. With solar energy systems continuing to decline in price and a wide variety of great incentives still out there, this could be the perfect time to make the switch.