Ahh…spring! Time for warmer weather, planning gardens, and clearing out all the clutter that has accumulated over the winter months. When spring finally rolls around, most of us are ready to open windows and enjoy some fresh air for a change. We all know, however, that spring in the South is short-lived, with summer showing up all too soon. Once the hot, muggy air arrives, it’s time to go back in and enjoy that air conditioner!
But before you turn on that A/C for the first time, there are a few maintenance tips you should consider. Just like autumn, spring is a transitional season, and that calls for a quick inspection of your HVAC equipment. Remember, your air conditioner has likely gone for a few months without running. During that downtime, several potential issues may have cropped up, and these small, easily-fixable problems could cause significant, money-consuming problems down the line if you don’t address them early.
Here are a few items you should check before you crank up the air conditioner during the warmer months.
Check Your Filters
Have we mentioned this week that you should check your HVAC filters on a regular basis? The dust and debris that builds up in a dirty filter can cause efficiency problems with your air conditioning system, which means higher energy bills. Not only does it clog up your system, but it can also pose a real health risk as well, especially if mold and mildew gain a foothold in the filter environment. Gross.
Not to mention the fact that a dirty filter can cause all sorts of respiratory issues for those suffering from spring allergies. Replacing an air filter on a regular basis can go a long way towards reducing the typical allergy symptoms of itchy eyes, runny nose, and scratchy throats. Make sure you pick a filter with a high MERV rating – the higher the rating, the more debris the filter is capable of capturing.
Check Your Drainage
During the months your air conditioner has been sitting idle, you’ve likely let it stay lonely and neglected outdoors. Over time, debris from your yard may have been blown around or had a chance to accumulate near the drainage pipe of your system. If this pipe is clogged, it can cause your air conditioner to operate less efficiently or even malfunction altogether.
Take some time this spring to give that outdoor air conditioner component a little TLC. Clean off all debris surrounding the unit and look inside to see if there is any buildup. While you are making outdoor garden plans, remember to keep the area around the compressor clear – too much growth can cause clogging issues. Be aware of plants that shed a lot of leaves or berries as well, as these can also create problems over the coming months.
Check for Drafts Near Windows and Doors
While not directly an HVAC issue, drafts near windows and doors can certainly cause efficiency issues, leading to higher energy bills. To address this problem, use a stick of incense or even just a wet hand to identify any drafty areas around windows and doors. When you find a draft, look at the area and see if weather stripping or caulk could solve the problem – if so, you have a new DIY project for the weekend.
We recommend checking for drafts specifically during transitional periods due to mild temperatures. These times are ideal for caulking projects, as temperatures aren’t at their extreme points. Moderate temperatures should allow the caulk to do its job efficiently, making it last as long as possible.
Clean Your Vents…All of Them
Clogged filters aren’t the only HVAC clog which can cause problems and respiratory issues. Dirty vents, while less likely to severely impact your bills, can still create an air conditioner that isn’t cooling as efficiently as possible. Neglected vents create the perfect environment for blowing dust and dirt all over your home; something allergy sufferers likely want to avoid.
Cleaning your vents can be a little labor intensive, but a good vacuum with a hose attachment will help to speed the process. Check out this post for instructions on how to best clean those vents in no time flat.
Replace Your Batteries
Too many people suffer injuries or death every year thanks to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that have dead batteries. While this is another spring maintenance tip that isn’t directly related to your HVAC system, it is still an important task to increase home safety for you and your family.
If you have detectors that are over ten years old, it may be time to consider replacements. Like any piece of equipment, sensors in your detectors can wear out over time. If you are looking for new solutions, we have a post on the latest in smoke and carbon monoxide detector technology.
Have a Pro Pay a Visit
Now is the time for our obligatory plug for bi-annual HVAC maintenance from a licensed professional, such as our experienced technicians. Seriously, though…while we do want your business, there is a very real reason behind our encouragement of having your HVAC system inspected twice a year. The main reason for investing in bi-annual maintenance is to prevent significant issues from occurring during the height of air conditioning usage. Having a system that is prepared to handle the heavy loads required during the hotter months means lessening the chance of it breaking in the middle of August on a day where the high is 105°F.
The secondary reason we suggest having your system properly inspected twice a year is to improve the longevity of your HVAC equipment. Systems that are loved and cared for can last well beyond their expected lifespan, and we want our customers to brag about their 40-year-old system still running like it’s brand new.
Ready for an inspection, or considering one of our maintenance plans? Give us a call at (205) 871-8111 to schedule an appointment.