For your HVAC system, there are tasks better left to the HVAC professionals such as wiring and mechanism inspection about twice a year. However, you can prolong the life and efficiency of your system with regular inspection and cleaning. With good HVAC preventive maintenance, you will avoid overworking your system (which translates to lower utility bills).
Basic DIY Preventive Maintenance for your HVAC system:
- Use a high-efficiency pleated air filter and replace this every quarter.
- Inspect the units to make sure that leaves, grass, twigs, or pollen do not clog the units.
- Make sure that furniture do not block the heating or cooling vents so that your unit does not have to work harder to give ample heating or cooling.
- Clear about 2 feet of space around the outdoor units.
- Install ample thermal insulation. This makes a huge difference in conserving energy. Use the recommended thermal insulation especially for your ceilings. For your windows, you can drastically reduce heat transfer by double glazing (2 glass panes separated by sealed air space). Also keep in mind that the more glass area, the more heat is transferred during warm months and heat lost during the cold season. Keep all doors and windows closed.
HVAC Preventive Maintenance That a Professional Should Handle:
- Checking for any leaks, such as gas leaks in the gas furnace or refrigerant, or duct leaks.
- Checking refrigerant levels and recharging as necessary.
- Inspection of wirings, control box, thermostat, and other electrical components.
- Inspection and cleaning of internal parts: fan motors, fan blades, blower assembly, evaporator coils.
- Checking all hoses and belts.
- Lubrication of all moving parts.
Conducting HVAC preventive maintenance extends the life of your HVAC system. This also makes for efficient operation to cut your energy bills to a minimum. Hence, having a professional check your entire system twice a year will optimize the use of your HVAC performance.
Choosing / Buying the Right HVAC System
This HVAC homeowners guide should help you with making the right decisions with your home HVAC. Whether you are replacing your old HVAC system or buying a completely new system, the first step is determining the current heating and cooling needs in the household. The primary consideration is, of course, the sizes of the areas/rooms, but there are other things to look into. Does the house have sufficient insulation? How about the placement of doors and windows and other construction materials used? For example, the more glass area the greater the heat transfer during warm months or heat loss during cold months. Thus, calculating the right HVAC system for your home will spell the difference between energy efficiency and long service of your HVAC unit or inadequate or inefficient heating and cooling or utility bills that run unnecessarily high.
Efficiency Ratings of HVAC Systems
After determining the right capacity of the HVAC System you need, the next thing to look into is the efficiency ratings of HVAC units.
Air Conditioning Systems – When scouting for air conditioning units, check the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. The higher the SEER (15 or more) the more efficient it is and the less energy it uses.
Boilers and Furnaces – When shopping for boilers and furnaces, check the energy efficiency rating which is a measure of how efficient these devices are in converting fuel to heat, or the Annual Fuel Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system is and the less energy it consumes. Hence a rating of 90% means 90% of the fuel is efficiently converted to heat.
Heat Pumps – When looking for a good heat pump, check the efficiency rating otherwise known as the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). The higher the HSPF, the more efficient it is. A rating of 8-9 HSPF is already considered very good.
Use and Maintenance of Your Heating and Cooling System
When operating your HVAC system, keep the temperature settings within the recommended level. This way, you avoid using excessive energy and unnecessary wear and tear of your system.
For the heat settings – keep it between 68° – 72°. Each additional degree can add 3% to the amount of energy needed for heating.
For the cooling settings – keep it between 70° – 76°.
Other tips include:
- Using insulation to help in cooling the room, or using drapes to block off heat from the windows
- Changing air filter as recommended for the type of filter
- Having a professional contractor inspect, clean and make adjustments as necessary in order to ensure efficient operation of your system for years to come.
Basic plumbing knowledge is important for everyone that owns or even rents a house. Oftentimes, unexpected blocks or leaks interrupt the entire water flow of your house. Solving simple plumbing problems is easy if you know how to deal with them. Leave the complicated ones to a professional plumber. Small do-it-yourself fixes do not require much time and will save you some money. The following plumbing advice from American Air will help you solve plumbing issues at home.
Plumbing Advice from American Air:
- Identify Your Drainage Pipes. The first important plumbing need-to-know (whether you own the house or not) is where your drainage pipes are. You need to know all the main and secondary drainage pipes that lead to the different areas of your house. This is necessary so you can identify the root cause of the plumbing problem.
- Correct Use of the Bathroom. Bathrooms are the most abused areas in any home. It is where major drainage blockages and leaks occur. Many times, people treat their toilet as a garbage disposal. Materials such as toilet paper, paper towels, hygiene pads, cotton balls, diapers, etc. are flushed in the toilet and cause severe clogs, blockages, and breaking of drainage pipes. Ensure that drainage pipes in the bathroom are free of all waste materials.
- Install Drain Filters. Make sure to use drain filters. These are essential tools to prevent your drains from any clogs or blockages caused by accidental or unavoidable debris and clutter. Always clean the drain filters regularly to prevent any deposits, scum or oil from accumulating. These elements can cause flooding in your bathroom or overflow of water in your sink. They are also major hindrances to having a free-flowing drainage system.
- Learn how to Use Basic Plumbing Tools. Know what the basic plumbing tools are and have them on hand at home.
Learning to solve small issues at home not only saves you time and money but also makes you confident and highly independent! Remember, however, do not to try your hand at fixing plumbing problems you are not capable of doing. Always seek the advice of a professional plumber if you are unsure about anything.