Spring isn’t just a great time to clean out your home. It’s also the perfect time to clean out your HVAC system and get it ready for summer. The steps you take now will help you save money and remain cool and comfortable during the warmest months. Let’s explore what you can do yourself and the maintenance that needs a professional HVAC technician.

Assess Your Building Envelope

The comfort and energy efficiency you experience this summer goes beyond just your air conditioner. The building envelope of your home matters, too. If you haven’t had a home energy assessment performed in the last several years, this is an excellent time to do so. Some key aspects of your building envelope that could be undermining your AC and indoor air quality (IAQ) include your home’s:

  • Roof
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Attic insulation
  • Attic ventilation
  • Crawl space or basement

Check Your HVAC Filter

Air filtration manufacturers use minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) to show filter effectiveness. The greater the MERV, the more effective the filtration but the greater the air resistance. All air conditioners support up to a certain MERV, which is usually between 8 and 13 for modern systems. We recommend using the filter with the highest MERV rating your AC supports. This will help keep dust, pollen, dander and so forth out of your system and improve your IAQ.

You should check your HVAC filter or filters at least once a month if you have central AC. You should check them at least every two weeks if you have ductless AC. If you have discardable filters, replace them when dust coats the filter. We recommend having extras on hand for convenience. If you have washable filters, clean them, and let them fully dry before replacing them. It helps to have dual sets for each filter so that you can run your AC without having to wait for the drying to complete.

Prepare Your Condenser Unit

Homeowners with a split HVAC system will have an outdoor condenser unit. Many Canadians will cover this unit during the winter. If you do, this is the time to remove, clean and store it. The outdoor unit should not have any covering during the spring and summer. Whether or not you cover it, inspect inside. If you see leaves, branches and other items, clear those out as much as possible. The industry also recommends maintaining a 45- to 60-centimetre border around the unit. This will help keep it clean and efficient. Ideally, remove any grass, bushes and overhanging branches from this area.

Schedule Seasonal Maintenance

There are maintenance steps that will improve your comfort and save you money and hassles but need a licensed HVAC technician. For these, we recommend scheduling maintenance before you need to turn on your AC. During this appointment, your technician will carry out a multipoint inspection, thoroughly clean your equipment and perform a tune-up.

Condenser Unit Maintenance

Your technician will need to inspect the HVAC disconnect switch, refrigerant system and condenser coil, pump and fan. The disconnect switch is a safety and convenience feature but can trip your AC if loose. The refrigerant system requires pressure testing to rule out leaks and may need valve replacement. The condenser fan and pump require new lubrication and may need ball-bearing replacement. It’s also necessary to clean the condenser coil. This is a part that allows the exchange of heat energy. If it’s dirty, that exchange will be less efficient and energy costs will go up. The condenser pump is also the aspect of the system most likely to trip its circuit breaker if it’s malfunctioning.

Air Handler Maintenance

The air handler encompasses the blower, evaporator coil and electrical system. The blower requires new lubrication and may need replacement parts, such as ball bearings. Your technician must also calibrate it to ensure it’s delivering the optimal cubic metres per minute (CMM). It’s also necessary to replace worn wires, tighten electrical connections and test and calibrate control boards. The evaporator coil requires cleaning as well. This is the other part that allows the exchange of heat energy. Dirty evaporator coils are prone to inefficient operation and can worsen your IAQ.

Thermostat Maintenance

Thermostat maintenance is something your technician will do during a tune-up but which you can do yourself. Remove the faceplate and clean the contacts with a soft brush and rubbing alcohol. If there’s gunk between the contacts, use a straightedge to remove it. You should also use another thermostat to ensure both devices are providing a similar reading.

Schedule a Duct Inspection

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) encourages Canadians to schedule an annual duct inspection. You can generally schedule this service alongside your seasonal HVAC maintenance. If your ducts are dirty, have your technician clean them. If your system has worn seals, have your technician seal your ducts. Both services will improve IAQ and energy efficiency.

Check Your Vents

If you have a duct inspection and cleaning performed, your technician will likely do this for you. If not, go room to room and check your vents. Unless you have zoned HVAC that controls the vents automatically, all vents should be fully open. You should also dust the vent faces.

Schedule Air Balancing

If you have a zoned HVAC system, schedule air balancing annually. If not, schedule it if you experience warm spots or a temperature difference in floors of a couple degrees or more. Through air balancing, your technician will ensure that your blower is providing the optimal CMM. You technician will also check that each vent delivers the right CMM.

Check Your Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are an effective summertime tool. They can help you feel cooler at a higher temperature and more evenly distribute cooling throughout your home. Consider installing ceiling fans wherever you lack them. Clean those you do have and put them in the right direction and at the right speed. In summer, your fans should run counterclockwise and at the highest speed they support or which you find comfortable.

Clean Your Dehumidifier

Consider installing a dehumidifier if you don’t have one. It can make your home more comfortable and your AC more efficient. If you have one, this is the right time to clean it and replace any filters if applicable. If you have a whole-house system that needs professional service, you can add it on to your spring tune-up.

Summer HVAC Maintenance in Nanaimo

If you live in Nanaimo or the surrounding areas and need a seasonal HVAC tune-up, Twin Peaks Plumbing, Heating & Gas is here for you. Our team maintains, repairs and installs both ducted and ductless ACs and heat pumps. Our HVAC technicians also maintain, repair and install furnaces, boilers and radiant heating.

We specialize in UV lights and whole-house air purifiers. Our plumbers hook up appliances, clean and repair drains and pipe and repipe water, sewer and gas lines. Contact us today with any questions about these services or to schedule an appointment. Ask us about our maintenance plan!

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