Spring has sprung and temperatures are starting to rise. Here are a few tips to help your spring cleaning routine and to help get your air conditioner ready for the summer.
Schedule a maintenance appointment
HVAC specialists recommend that you have your system checked out twice a year: once before turning on the air conditioning, and once before switching over to heat. These trained professionals know what to look for, to help your system run optimally and to extend its lifespan.
Clean outdoor unit
While you are out in the yard, working on the grass and putting in landscaping for the coming spring and summer, take a moment to check on your outdoor air conditioning unit. It’s hard to miss – the big grey box that sits next to your house. This box is known as the condenser and it works in tandem with the indoor portion of your air conditioning. While the indoor system absorbs the heat from inside, the outdoor condenser releases the heat outside. Unrestricted air flow is important for your HVAC to work efficiently. During the fall and winter, there is a good chance that leaves, tree branches, cut grass, or other debris have built up around the condenser. This blocks air flow and causes your system to work harder, with less efficiency – raising your energy bill and reducing the lifespan of your HVAC. Cleaning the condenser unit is easy, just remove or brush away any debris sitting on or around it and make sure the area is clear of obstruction. When landscaping, make sure you give your condenser space, and avoid planting anything nearby that might grow large enough to become an obstruction.
Circulate air with ceiling fans – freshen up the indoors by reversing your ceiling fans so that they rotate counter clockwise. The blades push air down and create a breeze to cool off the space.
Open the windows
Throwing open the windows may be a bit cliche, but there is a good reason for it. According to the EPA, indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. This is because outdoor is naturally filtered by trees and the water cycle. Fresh air is able to mix with polluted air, whereas indoor air is just re-circulated over and over. So whatever is in the air in your home (think pet dander, hair products, cigarette smoke, mold,and any other allergens, bacteria, or irritants) just stays there. Opening the windows allows fresh air to flow through your home, replacing stale, polluted air.
Change the filter
One of the easiest things you can do to freshen your home is to regularly change your HVAC filter. Depending on the filter, they should be replaced about every 3 months. This allows the HVAC system to run efficiently – a clogged or full filter decreases air flow efficiency. The filter’s job is to catch any particles that are floating through the air – whether its pollen, pet dander, bacteria, mold spores, dust or other irritants. The higher the quality of a filter, the more particles it will remove from the air. Most filters are rated on the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) and this scale was created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. It ranges from 1 – 16 (1 being the lowest rating, and 16 being the highest). To give you an idea, a filter rated MERV 6 would only be effective to remove dust and lint, while a MERV 13 removes dust, pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, smoke, smog, particles from coughs and sneezes, viruses, and bacteria. If you live with someone who has allergies or respiratory issues, upgrading to a better filter could be very beneficial to their health.
Throughout the year, air flows through your home, picking up dust and hair and lint and all manner of floating particles. Sometimes it doesn’t make it to your filter, and just gets stuck around the register of the air vents. The register is the visible part where the air comes out, which has an adjustable grille. Clean and dust around this area, and make sure no furniture or hanging material is blocking air flow.
Test your cooling system – once you’ve completed your spring cleaning, give your air conditioning a test run. Check to make sure that cool air is running throughout your home within a few minutes. If you notice that your home is not cooling off, or that certain spaces are much warmer, call Reliance Home Comfort to make an appointment. Don’t wait for the summer heat to arrive, take care of your HVAC system today.