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HVAC systems offer optimum temperature control, improved air quality, and comfortable living conditions. They comprise many parts, including thermostats, furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, ductwork, and filters.
Understanding how HVAC works empowers you to make informed choices, effectively maintain your system, and create a healthy indoor environment. Visit https://www.taphvac.com/ to learn some basic concepts about HVAC.
Air filters are vitally important to your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. They filter the air before it is warmed or cooled and circulated throughout your home via the ductwork.
Filters come in a variety of materials, with different ratings and price points. The rating, known as MERV, indicates how effective the filter is at trapping contaminants. Filters with higher MERV ratings capture more particles, from dust and dander to mold spores and other illness-causing bacteria, viruses, and smoke.
The filter itself is inserted into the return duct or vent in your home, where it sits between the blower and the rest of the duct system. The air must pass through the filter before it is heated or cooled, and this prevents a buildup of contaminants in your house that would otherwise be blown into your living spaces.
Once the filter is clogged, it restricts airflow and forces the HVAC system to work harder to heat or cool your home. This can lead to premature wear on the equipment and an increase in your energy bills. It can also cause the system to shut down, which can be an inconvenience and a safety hazard in some cases.
When a filter is changed regularly, it ensures that air can move freely through the duct system and that your heating or cooling is done efficiently. If you have a high-end system, it’s even more important to change your air filter on a regular basis to protect the integrity of the unit and keep it running smoothly.
Some people think that HVAC filters help make their indoor air clean, but this is not necessarily the case. Most filters are designed to keep the system running optimally and reduce wear on the equipment, not to make your indoor air completely clean. While they can trap some small dust and dirt particles, they cannot catch the tiny pollutants that advanced air purifiers capture. Those smaller particles are what can irritate your lungs, causing respiratory conditions like allergies and asthma symptoms. They can also contribute to chronic diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis and COPD.
Vents & Registers
The ductwork in your home connects to every room with a network of vents and registers. These serve two important functions, helping your HVAC system cool and heat your house efficiently while distributing conditioned air to your space. If you close your registers, your HVAC system will work harder to push conditioned air into a room, and this extra effort can damage the ductwork and shorten its lifespan.
Closed vents can also cause a variety of other issues, including moisture build-up and unhealthy microbial growth inside the ducts. These problems can result in mildew and mold, which in turn can affect your family’s health. Keeping your vents open will prevent these problems, but you may need to replace or install new air vent covers for an updated look.
If you’re concerned about the aesthetic of your air vents, there are plenty of ways to customize their appearance without affecting their function. You can paint or purchase vent covers to match your home’s interior design. Or, you can replace the grilles on your vents with metal or wooden ones that blend in with the rest of the room for a cleaner, more uniform look.
There are two kinds of vents: return vents and supply vents. The return vents pull stagnant air back into the system so it can be reconditioned, while the supply vents distribute cooled or heated air throughout your home. To distinguish between them, look for slats running perpendicular to the grill on the vent; if you can see them clearly, it’s a supply vent.
You can also tell them apart by performing a paper test: If you place a sheet of paper in front of the vent, and it blows outward, it’s a return vent; if the paper falls flat against the wall, it’s a supply vent. The location of your return vents and supply vents will make a difference in how efficiently your HVAC system runs, so it’s important to keep them clear of obstructions. If you’re unsure about the placement of your vents, contact an HVAC technician for advice.
Clean the Outside Unit
The outside unit can get just as dirty as your indoor air handler. It sits in the path of debris from your lawn mower, it’s exposed to dirt and debris from the wind, and it can even collect leaves or grass clippings on its coils. Routine cleanings keep it free of such things that can reduce its efficiency and cause costly problems.
First, make sure the power is off to your outside unit by finding and opening the electrical disconnect (a metal box on an exterior wall or in a crawlspace). It might be a pullout switch or a circuit breaker shutoff. Next, use a ladder to gain access to the outdoor unit. Remove the top cover and the side cover, and set aside any screws or bolts you take off. This will allow you to access the evaporator coils inside, which are a large assembly of flattened tubes in an A shape.
Once you have the access panel off, you can spray a foaming cleaner on the coils and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. This should loosen any grime and wash it away, allowing you to vacuum the coils and wipe down the outside unit with a hose. If you have a fin comb, this is a good time to straighten any bent fins. Once you’ve cleaned the coils and the unit, screw everything back in place, turn on your HVAC system, and enjoy!
Odd odors can signal serious problems. If you smell an electrical, burning or gas odor, turn off your air conditioner immediately and call a professional. They’ll diagnose the problem and get it fixed ASAP to prevent safety issues or further damage to your system.
Other signs of a problem with your outside unit include puddles around it, which may indicate a leak, or a smoky smell, which could mean that the fan motor or compressor are overworking and overheating. Make sure the area around your outdoor unit is clear of flammable items, such as leaves, pine needles, branches and grass, and trim any shrubs surrounding it. These items can block the unit and restrict airflow, causing a decrease in efficiency.
Have Your HVAC System Serviced
Like a car, an HVAC system needs regular care and maintenance. Without it, minor issues can escalate into major repair problems. Most HVAC companies offer maintenance plans and service contracts to prevent the need for costly repairs down the road. These packages typically include annual inspections, lubrication of moving parts, and cleaning.
It’s important to vacuum around vents and registers regularly to remove dust and pet hair. It’s also a good idea to change air filters every 2-3 months and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Clogged or dirty filters reduce the system’s efficiency and increase energy costs. You should also trim twigs and branches away from the outside unit to keep the fan blades free of debris.
Whether you have a central AC system or a ductless mini-split heat pump, it’s essential to check the refrigerant level regularly. A low level of this gas can lead to insufficient cooling and a host of other problems. Your technician can test the refrigerant levels and fix any problems before they cause damage.
Maintaining your HVAC system is a smart financial decision that will pay off in the long run. It will help to keep you and your family comfortable all year round, reducing the risk of health-related issues and ensuring the system is running at maximum efficiency. It’s also much more affordable than replacing a damaged, inefficient HVAC system.
A well-maintained HVAC system can last 10-15 years, possibly longer. Neglecting routine maintenance and ignoring potential issues will shorten its lifespan significantly. The lifespan of an HVAC system is directly related to how often it is used and the conditions it’s exposed to.
If you’re interested in an annual maintenance plan or would like to discuss your options for a new system, contact us today. Our experienced technicians can provide the quality service you deserve. Whether you need a simple tune-up or an entire overhaul of your hvac, count on Petro to help you stay cool this summer and warm and cozy all winter! We also offer financing for your convenience.