5 Tips to Keep Your AC Strong All Summer

AC tips for the summer

  1. Clean your filters
    With all of the pollen, pet dander and allergens floating around in the air, your air conditioner’s filters can quickly become clogged with loads of unwanted garbage. It’s important to change out your filters frequently. Standard industry practice would be to exchange your filters every 60 to 90 days.

    If you have pets or allergy season happens to be strong this year, it’d be smart to change them out sooner than later. This will allow the air to flow freely throughout the house, which can greatly increase the efficiency of your whole house cooling system.

  1. Call an AC professional
    To truly extend the life of your air conditioner, it’s always a good idea to call an AC professional like the guys at DeGraffenreid HVAC. After doing a thorough inspection of your system, they can recommend what you would need to do to get the most out of your system.

    An AC professional can also conduct an in-depth 15-point AC tune up of your system as well. This will lead to cooler, free-flowing air, more energy efficiency, and save you a ton of money down the road in preventable repair costs.

  1. Consider a programmable thermostat
    While you are home, you like to keep your home temperature cool. We get it – those summer nights can get pretty heated up. However, during the day while you are at work or out galavanting around town, there’s no point in you running your AC system 24/7.

    If you haven’t done so already, consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat. Doing so will allow you to pre-set scheduled temperature changes as to optimize your energy savings. It may not seem like huge savings from day-to-day; however, it can add up pretty quickly. When you take into consideration that for every degree +/- 78 degrees Fahrenheit can cost you $8, the saving can add up fast, according to Energy Star.

  1. Weatherize your home
    If your AC is running and you have air leaks throughout your house, you might as well open all of the doors and windows so you can cool off the front and back yard too. Do yourself a favor, and spend a day doing some basic weatherization around your home. Use air sealant or caulking to seal cracks by your windows or in the attic.

    If there seems to be a lot of airflow around your exterior doors, try using weather stripping to seal it off. Is your attic heating up too much? Add insulation around your air ducts. These small measures can lead to great results in your monthly energy bill.

  1. Place your AC unit in the shade
    While it might not be possible to relocate your air conditioning unit, it is feasible to build a well-ventilated pergola or cover around your AC unit. Doing so will allow the air around your air conditioner to cool down significantly as it’ll be out of the sun.

    In return, your air conditioner won’t have to work nearly as hard cooling down the air that’s entering your home. Want a bonus? A simple AC unit cover can both beautify your backyard and is cost-effective to build.

    These simple steps can lead to an effective solution in keeping your AC blowing cold all summer. What are your tips to keep your AC strong in the heat of the summer months?

How Does Ice and Snow Affect My HVAC unit?

SnowCoveredHome.jpg

Here is a run-through of how your HVAC unit is actually affected by these chilly temperatures and how to ensure there aren't any lasting effects following into the spring and summer months. 

Inefficient Operation 

The main issue that arises is when snow and ice encase the unit and trigger an emergency shut-off as the system freezes up. This cuts off heat to your home, which could cause burst pipes that result in significant property damage as the temperature drops. 

If you have a gas furnace or boiler, melting snow can seep in and re-freeze and your pipes may become covered in ice, which can cause your furnace to shut down.

Loud Noises

Ice and snow can build up on the aluminum fan and coil fins which will actually bend them. This can cause your HVAC unit to produce loud sounds while operating and can eventually burst the fins.

Working Twice As Hard

The snow and ice can cause the system's components to work twice as hard and limit the air flow, which can cause your unit to end up short circuiting and burning out faster than expected. 

Note: Make sure to check your system's air filters regularly because a clogged filter will restrict your air flow and can cause your system to have a hard time reaching the desired temperature. 

Protecting Your Home's Heating System 

  • Clear away all debris — First, clear out any debris that has gathered around or on top of your unit.

  • Cover your unit — What you do to cover your unit will depend on where the unit is located. But you must ensure the air can continue to circulate near your unit or you face a fire hazard or worse. You can build a small roof over your unit or even construct an entire freestanding shelter around your unit. 
    Note: Keep the unit at least 18" away from the exterior wall to increase air passage and to avoid drifting exposure.

  • Cover all pipes — This is a very important step to take if your unit can be affected by extremely cold temperatures.  

  • Shovel away the snow build-up —  Snow buildup should be shoveled away, gutters should be inspected so they're not dripping on the unit, and ice should be melted away with warm water, avoiding ice picks and possible damage to the system.

8 Tips to Get Your Furnace Ready for Winter

What to do to get your heater working well before the cold sets in.

School is in full swing, the leaves are changing color, and that pumpkin spice latte just isn’t enough to stave off the morning chill. It’s time to switch your HVAC system over to Heat. Check the following list to be sure your furnace is ready for the coming winter.

1. Turn on the thermostat.

Switch from cooling to heating and set the temperature a couple of degrees higher than the current room temperature. If you don’t hear the heat kick on within a minute, pull off the cover and make sure the wire connections are secure (if you feel comfortable doing so). If the connections are snug, make sure the power source to the HVAC system is turned on. If it’s still not working, you could check the furnace fan, blower or heat pump — but it likely makes better sense to call in a professional.

2. Change the air filters.

You probably have air filters behind a vent grill in the wall or ceiling, or a single filter in the HVAC system itself. Change these filters every few months. Or, if you have a permanent electrostatic filter, you can wash and reuse it. Cleaning or replacing your filters regularly keeps particles out of your HVAC system and can prolong its life. While you’re at it, change your humidifier filter and set the humidistat, if your HVAC includes a humidifier.

3. Cover the AC condenser.

Unless your HVAC is a heat pump (in which case, don’t cover it at all because it runs all year), cover the condenser to protect it from falling icicles. “A large trash can lid secured with bungee cords works quite well for this function,” says David Kenyon, training manager for Sears Home Improvement. You can also use a board to cover the fan — but don’t wrap it in a moisture-trapping plastic tarp.

4. Clean the heat exchanger.

“The heat exchanger should be brushed and vacuumed out annually by a trained professional while the unit is disabled,” Kenyon says. While it’s being cleaned, a Sears technician will look for cracks, which could lead to a dangerous carbon monoxide leak into your home.

5. Lubricate and clean the blower motor.

First check the owner’s manual to see if your motor is the kind that needs lubricating. If it does, turn off the power, open the cover and clean the caps covering the bearings. Then remove the caps and lubricate the bearings.

6. Test the igniter switch.

On an old system, you might have to relight the pilot. Newer systems have electronic ignitors. If the ignitor isn’t working, push the reset button. If that doesn’t do the trick, check your breaker. Still not working? Call in a professional.

7. Inspect the chimney and carbon monoxide detectors.

Chimneys can house carbon buildup or even small animals. “A professional should inspect them periodically,” Kenyon says. Routinely test or replace carbon monoxide detectors as well, as they help protect you from the “silent killer.”

8. If you have an oil-powered furnace, replace your filter and nozzle and check the tank level.

“Unlike gas-fired systems, oil units require oil filter changes, burner nozzle cleaning and a pretty thorough heat-exchanger brushing to keep them running efficient since oil doesn’t burn as cleanly as gas,” Kenyon says.

*made possible by our friends at Sears: https://www.searshomeservices.com/blog/8-tips-to-get-your-furnace-ready-for-winter