Thursday, 27 February 2014

Get Professional Help or DIY

Cleaning the air conditioner or heating system twice a year is a must. You can do the cleaning yourself or you can hire the services of a professional contractor who is specialized in HVAC cleaning and repair

The central air conditioning system of your house needs cleaning at least once in every six months. Here are a few things that you need to check every time it is time to clean the air conditioning system.

In winter, make sure you cover the outdoor unit of your air conditioner with plywood. This will prevent ice from falling on it or creating any other damage.

Make sure you do not wrap the unit with plastic. Do not even use any other material that will completely block the airflow. If you do so, moisture will get trapped inside and result in corrosion.

Turn the power off and feel the pipes. See if they are warm and cool.

Turn the power on and get the thermostat going so that the outdoor unit starts working. Listen to sound and pay careful attention to pick up any odd noises that may be an indication of a prospective damage.

Let the unit run for 10 minutes. Then pull back the insulation on the insulated tube. This tube or pipe should be cool, about 60 degrees. The other pipe connected to the unit should be warm, at skin temperature. If either are not so, there is something wrong and only professional help can prove helpful in checking the refrigerant level.

Next comes your compressor. Surprisingly, the compressor can be termed as the most fragile component of your air conditioner. Do not start your outdoor unit immediately, if you have just cleaned it when the power to your compressor has been off for more than four hours.

Let the outdoor unit have the power on for 24 hours before you switch the unit on. Remember to start the thermostat on its cooling mode and set the temperature before you turn the outdoor unit on.

Treat the compressor with care. Never start the air conditioner before five minutes since it has been switched off. The compressor needs time to ‘decompress’ before it can start again. If the compressor is started sooner, the motor gets stressed and this will affect the working life and efficiency of the compressor.

The furnace filter needs to be changed if it is dirty. The filter needs to be dust-free, only then the evaporator coil fins will clean. Before you pull out the filter, turn off the power that is supplied to the furnace, if not the dust within will not only blow throughout the system, but also on your face. Clean the filter or replace it with a new one, depending on how clogged it is.

Vacuum the bottom side of the fins of the evaporator coil. You can use a soft brush attachment for doing this. If you would rather not do the cleaning, hire a professional to do so. You will not need to clean the evaporator coil if the air that flows in is clean.

The plenum houses the evaporator coil, which dehumidifies the air indoors as cools it. Condensation takes place and the water that condenses on the coil comes out through the condensation tube. Ensure that this tube is not clogged. There may be sludge and algae inside the tube or at the drain port. Having a flexible tube will be easy to pull off and clean.

Apply five drops of special oil for electric motors if the fan motor has lubrication ports. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Cleaning HVAC before Spring

Spring is not far. It is just around the corner and before you know it, spring will be here. All of us need the air conditioning in spring. But, have we ever thought that our air conditioners also need to be ready for spring and summer? So, is your HVAC unit ready to perform to the demands of warmer weather?

Many of you might say, “..oh I have a new system.” You feel having a new system does not require tune up for spring. You need to remember that a relatively new system needs regular maintenance so that it can run properly and efficiently. Surely, the last thing you would want is that your air conditioner breaks down in the middle of a hot day.

Why should I clean my HVAC before summer?

Servicing the air conditioner before spring is really important. Your HAVC unit will house effects of the harsh winter. Most systems have dirty coils and clogged filters that affect the working of the system. These problems, if not addressed immediately, can result in repairs that will make a hole in your pocket. Reports from the of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) say that if the heating and cooling systems are not cleaned periodically, the system is likely to incur additional costs of $1000 per cooling season.

Can I avoid my system from breaking down?

Yes. You can. But only if you have a twice-a-year maintenance check schedule and stick to it. There are a few checks that need to be carried out at least twice a year. These could be done DIY or by hiring the services of a professional, qualified HVAC technician.

What do I need to check in my HVAC before spring sets in?

These are some essential checks and probable repairs you need to carry out after winter.
  • Inspection of the evaporator coil. This will ensure that the coil is functioning properly, is clean and allows the unit to drain sufficiently.
  • Checking the filters of the air conditioning. Clean the filters thoroughly or replace it if necessary. Pleated air filters need to be changed at a frequency between one and three months. Standard fiberglass filters will need a frequent replacement and electronic air cleaners need careful cleaning according to manufacture specifications.  HEPA filters are ones that last up to six months and easy to clean too. You can clean them with a vacuum nozzle.  
  • Inspect the wiring and all connections of the HVAC unit. This will help you detect if any cracks have formed in the wires and if all connections work properly.
  • Thorough inspection of the condenser coil. This is essential because if it is clean, it will deliver efficiency.
  • Analysis of the unit’s temperature drop. It you feel overly warm, there is sure to be a problem somewhere.  
  • Ensure the drainage hole is clean. Most air conditioners have a drainage hole that is fitted to the base of the cabinet. Usually, these are found beneath the evaporator fins. This hole needs to be kept clean and clear so that the air conditioner can work properly. It will be good to use a paper clip or a wire to poke through the hole to check if it is clean. If it’s not clean, then proceed to cleaning it.
With a little advance planning, you can ensure that your HVAC system is ready for the spring, and that there will be no surprise breakdowns or unbudgeted expenses in the process.