Heating and Air Conditioning

Learn about the equipment and components used to condition the air in your home to provide you with maximum comfort.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Postby Frank » Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:23 am

* "Tune-up" your heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract. Even a new ENERGY STAR qualified HVAC system, like a new car, will decline in performance without regular maintenance. A contract automatically ensures that your HVAC contractor will provide "pre-season" tune-ups before each cooling and heating season. You save energy and money, and your system may last years longer with minimal costs yearly maintenance fees.
* Regularly change (or clean if reusable) HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating season. New filters usually only cost a few dollars. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment, and result in lower indoor air quality.
* Install an ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat to automate your HVAC system. This solid-state, electronic device optimizes HVAC operation "24/7" based on your schedule, and can be "overridden" as needed for unscheduled events. So consumers and staff always enter a comfortable facility, this "smart thermostat" can turn on the HVAC one hour before arrival instead of heating or cooling unoccupied space.
* Control direct sun through windows depending on the season and local climate. During cooling season, block direct heat gain from the sun shining through glass on the east and especially west sides of the facility. Depending on your facility, options such as "solar screens," "solar films," awnings, and vegetation can help. Over time, trees can attractively shade the facility, and help clean the air. Interior curtains or drapes can help, but it's best to prevent the summer heat from getting past the glass and inside. During heating season, with the sun low in the South, unobstructed southern windows can contribute solar heat gain during the day.
* Use fans. Comfort is a function of temperature, humidity, and air movement. Moving air can make a somewhat higher temperature and/or humidity feel comfortable. Fans can help delay or reduce the need for air conditioning, and a temperature setting of only 3 to 5 degrees higher can feel as comfortable with fans. Each degree of higher temperature can save about 3% on cooling costs. When the temperature outside is more comfortable than inside, a "box fan" in the window, or large "whole facility" fan in the attic can push air out of the facility and pull in comfortable outside air. Fans can improve comfort and save energy year round.
* Plug leaks with weather stripping and caulking. Caulking and weather stripping let you manage your ventilation, which is the deliberate controlled exchange of stuffy inside air for fresher outdoor air. To learn more about indoor air quality in your facility visit EPA's Indoor Air Quality.


Heating and air conditioning companies
often offer maintenance servicing for both air conditioning units
and furnaces.

"We recommend annual air conditioning check-ups in the spring and furnace check-ups every fall. Although regular checkups will not absolutely guarantee that a unit will continue to work perfectly throughout the season, they will reveal most small problems that can lead to major, far more expensive problems if left unattended."

Homeowners can do the following things to maintain their air conditioning units:

1. The first thing to check before turning on your unit is to make sure the condensing unit located outside is not covered up. The unit needs to draw air into the system in order to have something to cool and circulate inside, but the process is hindered if it cannot pull in enough outside air. (We're amazed how many homeowners call because their air conditioner
isn't cooling, only to find they forgot they had temporarily stacked lawn furniture, bags of leaves and lawn clippings, around their unit over the winter.)
2. Some people intentionally cover their condenser to protect it from the elements during the winter, although these units require no protection since they are designed for outdoor installation.
3. Run your air conditioner for a few minutes in late spring or early summer, before you need it. If you wait until the first hot day to discover it isn't working, you'll find yourself on a waiting list, sweltering for days before an air conditioning specialist can come to fix it.
4. Change the filters regularly. Dirty filters restrict air flow, reduce efficiency and worse case, can cause the evaporator to ice up. Disposable fiberglass filters should be replaced. Electrostatic or electronic filters need to be washed regularly.
5. Be sure all access panels are secure, with all the screws in place.
6. Clean obvious obstructions such as newspaper and leaves from around the exterior of the unit.
7. Be sure the thermostat is set in the cooling mode. Just setting the dial below room temperature will not activate the air conditioning if it is set in the heat mode.
8. A thoroughly cleaned air conditioning unit will operate at top efficiency. However, homeowners are strongly discouraged from using a hose and water to try to clean it themselves because of the very serious risk of electrical shock and possible shorting of electrical components.

While you're at it, here are the steps of a professional furnace check-up.

1. Inspect thermostat for proper operation.
2. Inspect filter, and change or clean as needed.
3. Check all electrical components and controls.
4. Oil motors as needed.
5. Inspect heat exchanger for possible cracks. A crack in the heat exchanger will introduce carbon monoxide into the living space.
6. Check air flow. If diminished, it may be necessary to clean the evaporator coil.
7. Check air fuel mixture, where appropriate.

To locate a reliable Heating & Air specialist to service your air conditioning unit, visit Service Magic, and be matched with the ideal service professional in your area.
Frank
 
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