The Care and Keeping of Your HVAC

You can enjoy the benefits offered by an HVAC system if it is in good working condition. To keep your system in tip-top shape, follow this easy, workable preventative HVAC maintenance plan.

What to do NOW

  • Purchase a high-quality and high-efficiency pleated air filter
  • Remove any blockages, such as leaves, grass, pollen, and stones
  • Make sure that approximately 2 feet of the area surrounding your outside system is clear of clutter

Monthly and Seasonal HVAC Maintenance

  • Examine refrigerant lines every month
  • Change your filters at least every 3 months
  • Turn the water off on the furnace humidifier during summer
  • Change the humidifier filter and turn the water on during fall

Annual Maintenance

  • Change your carbon monoxide detector battery
  • Make sure that your outdoor AC is placed on solid, flat ground
  • Mix bleach and water to clear the air conditioning condensate drain

Tips on Keeping Your HVAC System Healthy

  • Make sure your filter is excellent. If not, replace it with a superior quality filter. Superior quality pleated filters have an electrostatic charge. This functions like a magnet so they can grasp very small particles, including those that transmit germs and bacteria.
  • Check the filter every month and depending on the model of filter follow a 30, 90 or 180 day period when replacing the filter . Replace the filter as soon as it looks dirty and clogged. You will need to change the filter more frequently if you have pets.
  • Leave at least 2-feet clearance around the external AC unit and heat pump. Clear the top and sides of the external AC units and pumps by removing rubble and litter, such as stones, leaves, twigs, and pollen during spring, summer, and fall. Avoid unloading cut grass or clippings near the HVAC.
  • Examine the insulation of on the refrigerant lines that lead into your home. Replace it immediately if it is damaged or missing.
  • Ensure that the system is flat on the floor. Examine your external AC unit and heat pump annually to make sure that they are on level and firm ground.
  • Remove any clogs and blockages. Mold and algae accumulate on your system. Remove this by mixing a cup of bleach with water then pour it into the AC condensate drain. Do this once a year. Set the humidistat between 35-40% relative humidity then switch on the water supply.
  • In summer, turn the water supply to the furnace humidifier off. Alternatively, change the humidifier wick filter in fall.
  • Prevent adding unnecessary strain on your system. Avoid closing more than 20% of your home’s registers.
  • Change the battery in your carbon monoxide detector every year.
  • Have a reliable heating and cooling provider service your system yearly. American Air will send an expert HVAC technician to your home to conduct an inventory on your system and examine its status. If you need information, do not hesitate to ask the technician.

Practicing the above preventative HVAC maintenance tips will help in lengthening the lifespan of your system.

Homeowner’s Guide to Extending HVAC Life

An efficient HVAC system allows you to get the best possible function. Aside from getting your money’s worth, you get the assurance of meeting your preferred temperature and energy savings. Check our homeowners guide to extending HVAC life.

Filtration

Clean your filter regularly and replace if needed. A dirty or clogged filter will cause your HVAC to stop functioning.

  • Replace the 1st disposable filter every 2-3 months
  • Replace the 4th high-efficiency media filter every 6-9 months
  • Clean the electronic air cleaner and pre-filters every 3-6 months if necessary (Check your HVAC manual for details)

Make sure to purchase high-quality replacement filters from your local heating and cooling provider.

Thermostat Settings

Save on energy costs by keeping your thermostat within the recommended levels. This will prevent early equipment set-back and extend HVAC life.

The thermostat cooling settings should be kept from 70° to 76°, and heating settings should be kept from 68° to 72° .

Setting your air conditioning too low can lead to HVAC system failure. Turn off your AC if you believe it has stopped working. Then, call your local HVAC contractor to service your unit.

Yearly Maintenance

Schedule a yearly check-up with a licensed HVAC technician. HVAC manufacturers recommend yearly assessment of the system to keep it in good condition. A regular yearly check-up and maintenance will improve how it runs and can lengthen your system’s lifespan.

When to Schedule Maintenance with a Licensed HVAC Technician

Spring – gas furnace with air conditioning
Fall – heat pump with gas or electric furnace

However, you can also request an HVAC technician anytime during the year to check your system.

Before Calling an HVAC Technician

  • Reset the HVAC system.
  • Confirm if your settings are correct and if the thermostat is displaying that the heating or cooling is on as shown in the thermostat manual.
  • Turn the equipment off.
  • Switch the equipment off for 10 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Remove and clean or change the filter.
  • Switch the heating or cooling on.
  • Inspect the airflow from the registers.

What to Do if the System is Not Working?

  • Remove any blockages around the furnace for safe and easy access.
  • Call your local HVAC contractor immediately.

Remember that your HVAC system works hard and knowing how to take care of it will lead to better overall function. Follow the above homeowner’s guide for extending HVAC life and a better functioning HVAC system.

How To Replace Your Furnace Filter Properly

Regularly changing your furnace filter is necessary if you want to maximize its efficiency and help purify the circulating air in your home.  Furthermore, furnace overheating and breakdown can be avoided if you change filters diligently. Furnace filters protect the blower motor from dirt. Depending on the type of filter you buy, it can also drastically reduce airborne dust and other air particulates, such as pollen, mold, mildew, and even bacteria. Additionally, you will prolong the life and service of your furnace if you change the filters regularly.

Frequency of Changing Your Furnace Filter

So how often must one change the furnace filter? For paper or fiberglass furnace filters, change it at least once a month or every two months. Inspect your filter once a month. For the electrostatic filter change it every 2-3 months. The rule of thumb is, to hold the filter against the light, and if no light goes through, then it is time to change the filter, or, in the case of reusable ones like the plastic type, to clean it with vacuum and water, and make sure it is completely dry before reinserting.

How To Change Your Furnace Filter

First of all, take note of the kind of filter you have. Turn the power off at the main circuit breaker. Remove the filter to check the kind/size of filter you should buy to replace the old one. The filter is either inside the return air vent OR inside the furnace.

Some filters, whether the reusable or disposable ones are rated as high-efficiency particulate air (or HEPA) or antimicrobial. They can trap microorganisms, including bacteria, algae or yeast. This is highly recommended especially if there is a family member who is hypersensitive and has allergies.

After getting the right replacement filter (or cleaning out the reusable one with furnace filtervacuum and water), take note of the markings or the arrow on the filter so that you install the filter with the right side facing the furnace or blower motor. Installing it the wrong way decreases the filter’s efficiency and blocks the flow of the air instead of cleaning it.

Maintenancing Your Gas Fireplace

gas-fireplaceA gas fireplace can be a great addition to your home. They are beautiful and very practical, keeping you warm during the cold winter months.

You should have your gas fireplace checked by a certified heat technician once a year, but it is just as important for you to clean it yourself on a regular basis. Cleaning it monthly will keep it working safe and efficient.

Follow These Simple Steps to Clean Your Gas Fireplace

  • First, make sure that the gas valve is turned off, and all components of the fireplace are cool.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment hose to suck up any dirt or debris inside the fireplace, paying close attention to the logs, controls and burner.
  • If there are lava rocks in the bottom of your fireplace, using a vacuum might not be the best idea as they can easily get sucked into the vacuum along with the dust. Instead, you can remove the logs and use a paint brush to dust them clean before putting them back.
  • If you have glass doors on the front of your fireplace, spray a mild window cleaner onto a cloth and use the damp cloth to clean the inside and outside of the glass doors.
  • After everything is cleaned and dry, use the manufacturer’s instructions to relight your fireplace.

While you’re cleaning, watch out for any broken pieces, blockage, rust or damage. If you come across something, have it checked by a professional before using the fireplace again. If your gas fireplace hasn’t been maintenanced by a certified heat technician in the last year, give American Air a call to set up an appointment today.

Preparing Your Furnace for Winter

furnaceWith the cooler weather upon us, it’s important to have your furnace ready to keep you and your family warm. A non-functioning furnace or a breakdown is the least that you want to have during this season.

Prepare Your Furnace for Winter by Following These Steps:

  • Clean the Furnace Room. The furnace is usually found in a storage room that gets too dusty and dirty for not using the furnace for the past months. Sometimes the room gets filled with clutter. Remove the unnecessary items and put those that you still need in boxes or a cabinet to store them. Keep the space around the furnace clean. Use the vacuum to remove cobwebs and dirt on the outer surface. The furnace should be visible, particularly all the pilot or control lights.
  • Clean or Replace the Filter. Filters need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. It is easy to forget, but if possible, try to do this once every 30 days. A blocked filter will affect the function of your furnace, taking longer to heat or warm your home. You can also expect your electricity bill to increase when this happens. A washable filter can get hosed down, while a  paper or cardboard filter will need replaced.
  • Clean the Vents or Ducts. The vents or ducts need cleaning, too, because the hot air is blown out through them from your furnace. It should be free of any barriers for your furnace to function well. Thoroughly wipe the exterior surface of the vent and remove any blockages that got caught in the insides of the vents.
  • Check the Fan Belt. The furnace will not work without the fan or blower belt. Examine the tension and look for any signs of deterioration. The room will take time to heat if the fan belt is loose and will use more electricity or gas, which means high cost of utility bills. Remove the cover of the air handler to access the fan belt. Any worn out areas or cracks are signs of changing the belt. If the tension bends a little less than three-quarters, then it is a sign that it has loosened and needs tightening. To tighten the tension, slacken the attachment bracket and change the motor assembly to increase the tension on the fan belt. Fasten the attachment bracket tightly once you can feel the correct tension.
  • Lubricate the Bearings. Bearings need regular lubrication, particularly those in the older furnace as the bearings have several moving components. The bearings will depreciate quickly if these are not oiled regularly affecting the function of your furnace and leading to expensive repairs. To oil the bearings, look for the oil caps over the bearing shaft. Do not over lubricate the bearings to prevent it from being a fire hazard.
  • Close the Blower Doors Tightly. Ensure that the blower doors are closed tightly to prevent heating products like carbon monoxide from getting mixed with the warm air that circulates all over your home.

 

Get your furnace ready for winter. Follow the above steps and you’re guaranteed of getting your home warmed up on a chilly night. If you are having problems with your furnace, call American Air so have your furnace serviced by a professional.