As with any big investment, the better we take care of something, the more efficiently it will function and the longer it will last. When it comes to your HVAC system, that translates into lower energy bills, fewer repair bills, better indoor air quality, and a lower chance of emergency repairs being needed. While it is recommended to have a HVAC professional at the Lake of the Ozarks inspect your system in the spring and in the fall, there are some things you can do as a homeowner to keep your system in optimal condition.
1) Keep outdoor unit clean and clear.
Any weeds or shrubs or other debris that grows or piles up around your outdoor condenser unit can reduce airflow and efficiency. It is a good rule of thumb to keep 2 feet of clear space all around your condenser unit.
It is also important to make sure the unit itself is clean. The first thing you will want to do is turn off the power – both at the breaker box inside your electrical panel and at the shut off panel usually mounted to the house near the condenser. Next, remove the fan cage on the top of your condenser and clean any leaves or debris from the inside. Then examine the fins, if they are dirty, use a gentle stream of water from a garden hose to spray from the inside to the outside. DO NOT use a pressure washer for this as it will cause damage to your fins.
Finally, because being out of level can affect the way the refrigerant moves within your system, it is critical that your condenser be level. So, it is a good thing to check on during your maintenance inspections. If it needs levelling, use weatherproof shims to correct it.
2) Clean evaporator coil.
On the inside of your indoor unit, you will find the evaporator coils. You may need to remove a few screws to open the access panel. Dust off the coils with a soft brush, and spray with a coil cleaner which can be found at most home improvement stores. Just follow the instructions on the can.
3) Clean drain lines and drain pan.
Your indoor unit will have a place for water that condenses on the coils to drip into and be carried away. Usually, you will see a tube running from the unit to a drain the in floor. If the tubes or the drain pan become clogged it can cause water to backup and flood your house or cause your unit to stop cooling. It is recommended to clean the drain pan with hot soap and water with a little bleach. Then it is a good idea to pour a cup of 50/50 solution of bleach and water down the drain. If it drains easily, you are good to go. If it drains slowly or not at all, you will want to clear the clog in the tube with a shop vac.
4) Check/replace filter.
How often your filter needs to be replaced depends on your specific HVAC system. But if you live on a dusty road or have pets, or are sensitive to allergens, you will want to visually check your filter more often. If you are considering upgrading to a HEPA filter, check with your HVAC specialist at the Lake of the Ozarks to make sure the filter is compatible with your HVAC system and won’t restrict air flow to the point of causing damage or losing efficiency.
5) Annual or semi-annual check-ups.
Your HVAC technician at the Lake of the Ozarks will examine numerous other things in addition to the above when they do a maintenance check for you. They will also check the refrigerant level, make sure electrical connections are safe, the moving parts are working properly and lubricated, and much more. The DIY maintenance homeowners can do does not eliminate the need to for check ups from your professional HVAC company, but rather, works as a compliment.
At Royal Heating and Air, we understand that your HVAC system is a major investment that affects your quality of life on a daily basis. We are your partners in making sure that investment does its job and lasts as long as possible. To sign up for a maintenance plan with Royal Heating and Air, just go to our website or call 573-346-8370 and we will make sure you have trouble-free comfort year-round!