Do It Yourself HVAC Maintenance
DIY HVAC Maintenance
With soaring electric bills and inflation, most folks are looking to save money where they can. Air conditioning maintenance not only saves money on your Entergy bills and extends the life of your ac unit, but also can help you avoid costly ac repairs. Properly maintaining your system is key to energy efficiency, resident health, comfort, and function.
When your air conditioning unit is running properly, it removes humidity (excess moisture in the air), which can reduce the growth of mold that can lead to allergies or exacerbate asthma. Therefore, the optimal time to conduct ac maintenance is before you need to run it regularly (usually in springtime).
Your HVAC system is comprised of two parts, either an AC and Heat Pump, or AC and Furnace, both of which require servicing to maintain optimal efficiency. We share a few tasks you can do yourself below, additional task require a professional to manage.
Turn Off Power to Your System
Working around electrical energy and the HVAC’s moving parts is inherently dangerous, so it is paramount that power to the unit is completely shut off before maintenance. You should find a shut off box close to the exterior HVAC unit, and then shut off power to the unit on the interior breaker box.
You will need a wrench or screwdriver to remove the HVAC exterior cage away from the system to remove debris that has worked its way in. Use a shop vac to remove leaves and additional debris from the interior of the unit.
Clean the Fins
Dirt, lint, scale, biofilms, and oxidation accumulation need to be removed. Using a powerful shop vac with a brush attachment clean the interior of the unit. After cleaning with a shop vac, use a water hose (not a pressure washer, as it could damage the blades) to spray the fins from the inside out to remove debris that has built up between blades. A commercial cleaning spray may be necessary if the fins are extremely dirty.
Straighten out the Fins + Clean the Heat Exchange Coils
Grime and build up reduce efficiency of airflow through the fins, remove as much build up as possible. If fins are bent, they move less efficiently - carefully straighten bent fins using a commercial fin-straightening tool. Fins have embedded tubing and can easily be damaged, so be gentle.
When you are finished cleaning the interior, restore the fan cage and clear the area around the exterior HVAC unit of debris and leaves that can be drawn or blown in. Your HVAC system should have a minimum of two feet clearance from vegetation for airflow.
Level the Unit
The pad of your HVAC unit can become unlevel as soil settles or erodes. When this happens you can use a shim to bring the unit level. If you are using a heat pump system, a slight slope for winter run off is perfectly acceptable. Just ensure the slope stays consistent.
Clean the Evaporator Coil
Now it is time to clean the inside furnace evaporator coils. Locate your evaporator door (you may need to remove interior insulation), using a soft brush, gently dust the coil first, then spray them with a commercial no-rinse coil cleaner. The non-rinse coil spray foams up and runoff will drip into the drain pan. Clean the drip pan with soap and hot water. Once clean, pour one cup of 50% water and 50% bleach solution down the drain. You can add a bleach tablet to the drain pan to prevent algae growth between maintenance.
Provided the 50/50 bleach solution drains easily, you can skip the next step. If not, you will need to clean the evaporator drain. Restore the interior coil door (and tape if necessary).
Cleaning the Evaporator Drain
Air inside your home blows through the evaporator coil, the cool coil absorbs heat from the air (cooling it), then circulates it back into your home. The humidity in your home condenses on the cool evaporator coil and drips into the pan below. The pan drains to a tube that is routed out of your home. This tube slowly accrues algae and mold that has the potential to clog the drain. Many HVAC systems come equipped with a drain float that will stop your system from cooling to prevent flooding.
To clean your drain line, find the line where it exits the evaporator enclosure. It is usually a visible 1-inch PVC pipe. Typically the pipe runs to the outside near the condenser unit, but can also run to a utility sin or floor drain. Attic units usually run down an exterior wall.
Start by removing wet vac filter, then place the hose of the wet vac over the exterior drain line. Use a hand towel or duct tape to cause a seal around the drain line and shop vac hose, and allow the the shop vac to run for a few minutes before turning the vacuum off. This should clean your drain of algae and other biological concerns
Change HVAC Filter
Your HVAC filter should be replaced at minimum of twice a year but check it regularly to ensure optimal efficiency and prevent circulation of air born allergens. Homeowners with pets may need to change it more frequently. In addition, if you are remodeling your home air born particle from drywall or sanding will require frequent monitoring for air filter replacement as particle will clog your filter and reduce airflow to your system.
Restore Power to the Home
While the task listed above will extend the life of your unit and keep it running at optimal efficiency, there are maintenance task only a licensed HVAC technician can perform. Refrigerant leaks can lead to compressor failure that require tools and the skills of a professional. In addition, clean ducts and proper airflow are crucial to a well-operating system. While these tips can help you maintain your HVAC system, having an experience contractor service your system twice a year can help avoid HVAC system failure and costly repair. HVAC technicians are specially trained to spot impending problems before they become expensive repairs and make efficiency adjustments with trade specific tools.
If the AC Maintenance tasks mentioned above are above your skill or comfort level, call the Lake Charles AC Repair Guys at Accurate Air and Heat. Accurate Air maintenance visits are cost effective solutions to reducing your utility bills and optimizing your HVAC system for efficiency.
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Do it Yourself AC Maintenance - Lake Charles AC Repair Company
8/6/2022 10:03:46 am
Thank you, great post.
8/23/2022 09:30:13 am
My air conditioning system hasn't been working properly, and I'm not sure what to do about it. It makes sense that I would want to get a professional to help me out with this! They would be able to perform maintenance correctly.
8/24/2022 05:00:54 pm
I found it interesting when you said that managing to work with any AC unit is dangerous, you should ensure that the cable was unplugged. The other night, my son and I used to think that the strange noise from our air conditioning unit was normal. Thank you for helping me learn about taking care of an air conditioning unit, I'll consult a trusted air conditioning cleaning service to clean our air conditioning unit and provide preventative actions.
9/8/2022 10:35:58 am
My mom wants to buy an air conditioner next month, but she'd like to learn how to keep it well-maintained first. That's why I'm sure your article will be helpful for her, so I'll share it now and suggest she pays attention to changing the unit's filters as you suggest. Thanks for the tips on how families with pets will need to replace the filters from their unit more frequently.
10/6/2022 05:10:27 pm
I never even considered that cleaning the evaporator coils. My coils seem to be completely eroded. I'll have to hire someone to put in a replacement.
10/14/2022 06:28:50 am
The main job of the evaporator coil is to cool the refrigerant so that it can absorb the heat. As the fan blows air over the coil, the refrigerant becomes cold and turns into a vaporous state.
10/23/2022 08:04:30 am
Greta article filled with lots of great tips.
10/28/2022 05:34:46 am
I agree. Without regular maintenance, your AC system will not be able to circulate the air in your home properly. Regular service visits will ensure your system has proper ventilation to keep the air quality in your home clean and free of irritants such as allergens and dust.A
1/7/2023 09:35:31 am
Air quality is important to me and my family, which is why we make sure to keep our AC system well-maintained. By reading this informative article, I have learned that regular service visits will help to keep my system running properly so that we can breathe easy all year long!
2/2/2023 10:24:44 pm
Thank you for clarifying that it is essential to totally turn off the unit's power before performing maintenance because working near electrical energy and the moving parts of an HVAC system is inherently risky. My friend claimed that the HVAC system was broken. I'll recommend that she have her HVAC system serviced.
2/24/2023 04:53:40 am
It was interesting to know that HVAC filters at least twice a year. My friend told me that their Ac is malfunctioning. I think it's time to call an HVAC service to ensure quality work.
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Just an ole AC guy sharing his thoughts.