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Tips for Maintaining an Efficient HVAC System

3-Step HVAC Test

Tips for Maintaining an Efficient HVAC System

Ah, summer. Cookouts, swimming pools, camping—it’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. When it’s time to come back indoors, there’s nothing better than that cool blast you feel from your home’s air conditioning unit.

Your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system is essential to keeping your home comfortable during summer months, and if it breaks down, it’s also very expensive equipment to repair or replace. Luckily, you can take simple steps to lengthen the life of your HVAC system.

Change or clean filters

Dirty filters block airflow, which can greatly decrease the efficiency and life of your system. Different types of filters require different change periods.  The Department of Energy recommends changing or cleaning filters every month or two during the cooling season. If your unit is in constant use or is subjected to dusty conditions or pet hair, consider checking filters more frequently.

Clean the HVAC unit

Outdoor condenser coils can become clogged with pollen, dirt and small debris. Dirty condenser coils produce less capacity and lower efficiency. Use a hose to spray the HVAC unit once each season to ensure maximum airflow. Do not use a pressure washer to do this, as it can damage the equipment.

Clear space around the outdoor unit

Dryer vents, falling leaves and grass clippings can create buildup. Remove any debris around the HVAC unit. If you have foliage near the unit, trim it back at least 2 feet around the condenser for proper airflow. If you want to evaluate the efficiency of your HVAC system, try this quick test. The outdoor temperature should be above 80 degrees, and you should set your thermostat four degrees below the room temperature to ensure the system runs long enough for this test.

  1. Using a digital probe thermometer, measure the temperature of the air being pulled into your HVAC filter. This is the return air temperature.
  2. Measure the temperature of the air blowing out of the A/C vent, also called the supply air.
  3. Subtract the A/C vent (supply air) temperature from the HVAC filter (return air) temperature. You should see a difference of about 17 to 20 degrees. If the difference is less than 17 degrees or more than 20 degrees it may be time to call your HVAC technician.

You should also have your HVAC system periodically inspected by a licensed professional. The frequency of inspections depends on the age of your unit, but the Department of Energy recommends scheduling tuneups during the spring and fall when contractors are not as busy.

When HVAC equipment fails, it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable—especially during the dog days of summer. Remember, your HVAC system runs best when it’s regularly cleaned and serviced. With a little maintenance along the way, you can add years to your system’s lifespan.

For more about energy-saving rebates and information, contact Benton REA at 509-786-8265. 

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