Summer is the perfect season to spend a little time taking care of home maintenance tasks, and this should include ensuring your HVAC system is functioning efficiently. The investments you make will pay dividends in the form of greater home comfort, lower utility bills and lower long-term maintenance costs.
Keep Your HVAC System Running Efficiently
You can do many of these projects yourself, but some will require professional assistance from an HVAC contractor. Keep safety in mind and ask for help for any work beyond your level of expertise. Tasks most homeowners can tackle include:
Changing the air filter. A clean filter keeps dust and pet hair out of the internal parts of the HVAC system. A clogged filter puts unnecessary strain on the air handler, which increases energy costs and decreases equipment life.
Removing obstructions to A/C ducts. For proper airflow balance, keep the supply and return ducts open in every room. Do not block them with furniture or carpeting. Closing the vents will not save energy. Clean dust from the outside of registers and straighten any bent fins.
Cleaning the outdoor A/C unit. Remove leaves and other debris from around the outdoor unit so air can flow freely through it. Trim grass and shrubbery away from the unit, and consider building a fence or planting trees to shade the unit from summer sunlight.
Keep Indoor Air Clean
Air trapped inside a closed-up house can be more polluted than outdoor air and can threaten your family’s health and comfort. Here are a few things you can do to improve your indoor air quality:
Eliminate mold. Plumbing leaks and high humidity can lead to mold growth, especially in closed off areas like the crawl space or damp areas such as your bathroom. Get plumbing problems repaired quickly. Inspect the attic for signs of roof leaks and get them repaired to prevent mold growth and damage to insulation. Use mild bleach to remove existing mold from indoor surfaces.
Use vent fans. Install and use vent fans in bathrooms and the kitchen to remove odors and steam from inside your home. Talk to your HVAC contractor about possible solutions if the air conditioner does not adequately control your indoor humidity.
Consider a whole-house air purifier. Your HVAC contractor can discuss air cleaning systems with you. Portable air purifiers or UV light systems and HEPA filters in the ductwork can keep mold spores, dust and pet dander from circulating inside your home.
Grow plants indoors to freshen your air. Ornamental plants such as a Boston fern or a Pothos, add beauty to your indoor space while also improving the air quality.
Seal Air Leaks and Upgrade Insulation
You can reduce the strain on your heating and cooling systems and save money on utility bills by stopping energy loss from air leaks and insufficient insulation.
Seal and insulate ductwork. Have your HVAC pro inspect your ductwork for damaged joints and leaky seams. Repairing leaky ductwork and insulating ducts that run through your attic or other uninsulated spaces can result in significant savings.
Check attic insulation. If the top edges of your attic floor joists are visible above the insulation, you probably don’t have enough attic insulation for our hot Alabama summers. Add insulation by blowing in loose-fill cellulose or rolling out fiberglass batts. This is a dirty job that requires knowledge and attention to detail, so it might be best to hire an insulation contractor to do it for you.
Seal leaks around doors and windows. Use expanding foam insulation or caulk to fill holes and cracks in your home’s exterior walls, around door and window frames and wherever plumbing or electrical wiring enter the home. Replace worn weatherstripping around the moving parts of doors and windows so they seal tightly when they are closed.
Call your HVAC pro to inspect and perform routine maintenance on your cooling system. Learn more about HVAC system maintenance provided by Air Specialty or contact us at 251-545-3337 to schedule an appointment today.
Good heat pump maintenance is the key to energy-efficient operation and long equipment life. There are several things you can do to ensure efficient operation of your heat pump. You should rely on your professional HVAC technician to perform the heat pump maintenance tasks that you can’t do safely and effectively yourself.
Heat Pump Maintenance
Be sure to change the air filter at appropriate intervals. A dirty filter restricts airflow in the ductwork and makes the heat pump work harder than it should to heat and cool your home effectively.
Set up a heat pump maintenance agreement with your HVAC contractor for annual or semi-annual service calls. An HVAC pro can tackle the following maintenance tasks to keep your system running efficiently:
Measure and adjust airflow for correct balance.
Measure and adjust refrigerant levels for correct cooling operation.
Inspect ductwork. Repair loose connections and seal leaks.
Check for correct thermostat operation. Make sure backup heat is not running under normal operating conditions.
Optimal Heat Pump Operation
Once you program the thermostat to control heat pump operation, avoid manually overriding the settings. If you set the thermostat temperature more than a few degrees higher than its programmed setting on cold days, you’re likely to force the backup heating system to come on. The backup heat, whether it comes from electric resistance coils or a natural gas furnace, is a more expensive heat source than your heat pump is under normal weather conditions.
Unless the heat pump has a high-efficiency variable-speed fan, you should leave your system in “auto” mode rather than “fan” mode. Leaving a single-speed fan running continuously distributes air evenly throughout your house, but it increases electrical costs and shortens the life of air-handling equipment.
Learn more about routine heat pump maintenance or emergency repairs with Air Specialty or contact us today at 251-545-3337.
The ideal comfort zone for indoor humidity is 35 to 50 percent. As cold air holds less moisture than warm air, winter air can be 15% dryer than spring and summer air. How does this impact your health? In most homes without humidifiers, indoor relatively humidity is well below the 35 to 50 percent zone, resulting in mild to severe health related concerns.
Maintaining the right humidity level is a great preventive measure against getting a cold or the flu because bacteria and viruses thrive at both very high and very low humidity, but they don’t do so well in the mid zone. Moist air is also needed to prevent uncomfortable conditions such as itchy skin and dry nasal passages so common during the winter.
As humidity drops, the air saps moisture out of everything in the room. This can cause the wallpaper to peel, hardwood floors to crack and shrink, and expensive musical instruments to become damaged. Static electricity also builds up more, giving you power in your fingertips that could zap sensitive electronics when you touch the power button. By preventing these scenarios, one of the most profound benefits of a humidifier is that it helps protect your sensitive belongings.
Lower Energy Bills
You already know that low humidity causes evaporation to speed up. In addition to drying out wood products, this also more readily evaporates moisture from your skin. The result is a cooling effect, the last thing you want in winter. When the air is more saturated, it wicks less moisture from your skin, helping you feel warmer even if you set the thermostat down a degree or two.
If you’re ready to enjoy these benefits of a humidifier, please contact Air Speciality to schedule a whole-house indoor air quality inspection. Unlike a portable unit, a whole-house humidifier keeps the entire home at a comfortable humidity level so you can enjoy the benefits in every room.
Indoor air quality and ductwork cleaning go hand in hand. In a southern climate, homeowners in Mobile need to pay special attention to the maintenance of their HVAC system due to the humidity and year round, animal-friendly environment. Below is a quick set of facts on how ducts get dirty, plus a short list of tips for cleaner, healthier indoor air.
Dirty Ductwork 101
Ductwork carries air from the handler to the vents in your home. With windows and doors closed, air is re-circulated through the ducts, carrying normal levels of in-home dust and debris. Inevitably, ducts will begin to see dirt build up, especially in homes with pets, renovation projects, dusty roads, or lots of opening and closing of doors and windows.
Once debris lines the ducts, airflow will begin to slow down and your HVAC system will have to work harder. Based on the temperature that you set, the HVAC is designed to push air through a smaller opening in order to maintain the correct temperature.
There are simple things homeowners can do to help keep the HVAC ductwork clean. Other maintenance projects will require a professional to service the system and ensure your HVAC is running at peak performance.
Dirty Ductwork Cleaning
Change the air filter regularly. Inspect it once a month and change it when you can no longer see through it. If the filter gets clogged with dust and dirt, some of that material will blow past the filter and end up in the ductwork.
Clean the house regularly. See all the hair, dust and debris in your vacuum after a good cleaning? That could have ended up in the ductwork.
Regularly groom long-haired pets outside.
Schedule a professional duct inspection every three or four years, and more often if you have any of the aforementioned risk factors.
Schedule an annual maintenance on the HVAC system. A clean and tuned-up heating or cooling system won’t allow as much dirt and debris into the ducts.
Check your evaporator coil to make sure the coil and its condensate pan and drain are clear of mold and bacteria. Consider using UV lights to eradicate these harmful micro-organisms.
To schedule a comprehensive ductwork cleaning, please contact us today at Air Specialty. We offer HVAC maintenance and system protection products and services for your home. For more than 20 years, Air Specialty has been proudly servicing the Mobile and Saraland communities.
As winter’s chill ebbs, it is the perfect time to schedule an air conditioner tune-up. Preventative maintenance is one of the most overlooked AC services, but it is well worth the investment. If you are concerned about high energy bills through the summer cooling season, a tune-up is one of the best ways to curb your costs while ensuring optimum comfort levels in your home.
What Is Included in an AC Tune-Up?
Your air conditioning system involves many important components that can wear out, accumulate dirt or otherwise deteriorate with use. An average air conditioner lifespan is approximately 14 years, but many homeowners don’t realize that a tune-up can extend this time. Service of your cooling system includes:
Inspection and cleaning of condenser and evaporator coils.
Inspection and cleaning of drip pan and drain line.
Cleaning and adjustment of blower motor and parts.
Evaluation of filtration system.
Refrigerant evaluation and recharge as needed.
Adjustment of loose connections.
Lubrication of moving parts as needed.
Testing of electronic components.
Many of these tests and adjustments allow your cooling technician to identify potential problems before they become serious enough to compromise your home comfort levels or cause significant damage to your system. Cleaning of your indoor and outdoor coils can make a difference of up to 30 percent on your energy usage for summer cooling. Low levels of refrigerant can increase your energy consumption as well. In extreme cases, an unmaintained system can increase cooling costs by 50 percent or more. Additionally, tune-up service can enhance the quality of your indoor air supply.
What Is a Service Agreement?
It’s easy to forget important seasonal services, and many homeowners end up dismissing the need for a system tune-up. A service agreement enables you to plan for your system inspection and adjustment needs so that you don’t neglect your equipment. In addition to semi-annual service, plans include such features as:
Priority repairs – normal wear and tear will still occur regardless of system maintenance, and a service agreement may provide expedited service in case of an emergency
Repair discounts – committing to regular maintenance can reduce your repair costs through special savings offers
Expert insight into HVAC technology and trends – from variable speed technology to wireless thermostats, your technician can help you to explore advances that may enhance your comfort control and minimize your energy usage
Planning for replacement – your unit will eventually require replacement, and a good working relationship with your AC expert will allow you to prepare for that need
At Air Specialty Inc, we are committed to providing our customers with expert service and excellent value. Spring is the ideal time to schedule preventative maintenance for your cooling system, and our technicians are ready to assist with additional home comfort concerns as well. Whether you need help in evaluating energy efficiency issues or in improving your indoor air quality, an air conditioner tune-up is an excellent starting point. Call our Saraland, AL, office to schedule your appointment today.