Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Warmer weather is right around the corner, and many homeowners are making their spring "to-do" list. As you make your list this year, the top item should be scheduling preventive maintenance on your air conditioner. A yearly tuneup of your system will extend its life and ensure it works efficiently to keep you cool all summer long, lowering your utility bill and preventing the need for air conditioning service in the heat of the summer.
A comprehensive tuneup by a qualified HVAC technician will include these key points:
·         Lubricate the system's moving parts to prevent friction.
·         Check the system's controls to make sure your air conditioner cycles properly.
·         Record the operating temperatures and pressures.
·         Inspect the relays and capacitors for damage.
·         Check the refrigerant level and test for leaks.
·         Flush the condensate drain to ensure it drains properly.
·         Tighten the electrical connections.
·         Inspect the blower motor and belts for wear.
·         Clean and adjust the thermostat to ensure accuracy.
·         Check the voltage and amperage on the motor.
·         Clean the compressor contacts.
·         Clean the outdoor condensing unit.
Preventive air conditioning service doesn't end with the annual tuneup. There are several things you can do over the course of the cooling season to keep your system operating at its peak performance:
·         Check your air conditioner's air filter every month and replace it when it's dirty. Your air filter is your first defense against dust buildup in your system, which makes it work harder to keep you comfortable and can cause overheating and expensive related damage. Choose a quality air filter with a MERV rating of at least 5 to remove more and smaller particles from your air.

·         Keep obstructions away from your outdoor condensing unit. Grass clippings can adhere to the unit and reduce the flow of air to your system. Remove plant growth around your unit and hose it down monthly to remove dust buildup, which can reduce its efficiency.

·         Maintain the area around your indoor unit. Keep it free of dust, which can build up inside the system. Remove stored items that may be an obstacle in the event air conditioning service is needed.

·         Make sure your supply and return registers aren't blocked by drapes or furniture, which can impede airflow to your system and cause overheating and related damage. Never close off more than 20 percent of your registers in an attempt to save on energy costs. Doing so will backfire due to reduced air flow, and will make your system work harder to keep your home cool.
Troubleshooting common air conditioning problems can save you money on air conditioning service. If your air conditioner isn't turning on at all, check the fuses associated with your system. If it's not cooling effectively, try changing the air filter, make sure the outdoor unit is clean and check for obstructions around the return and supply registers. If service is needed, choose a NATE-certified technician to perform the work. The North American Technician Excellence, a nonprofit certification organization, provides rigorous testing to ensure your HVAC professional is highly skilled and knowledgeable about HVAC systems, resulting in excellent service and fewer callbacks.

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