Last Updated on January 24, 2024 by Asfa Rasheed
If you are a new homeowner, it is important to know how your HVAC system works. Having a good working system helps your home stay comfortable year round and can save you money on your energy bills. Even though a home warranty coverage might include an HVAC system, proper maintenance is important for upkeeping and clean air in your home.
Keep the area around the outdoor unit free of debris such as twigs, leaves and grass clippings. Also regularly hose down the outside unit to prevent buildup of dust.
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Check the Thermostat
Thermostats are a crucial component of any HVAC system. If the thermostat isn’t working properly, it can make other components of the system work harder and lead to inefficiencies and high energy bills. The good news is that fixing a thermostat can be as simple as changing the batteries or flipping a circuit breaker.
Before attempting any fixes, it’s important to check the thermostat to ensure it’s still functioning. The easiest way to do this is to use a thermometer to see if the room temperature matches the thermostat settings.
If the thermometer and thermostat are both reading the same temperature, there’s a good chance there is a problem with the thermostat display. If this is the case, it may be time to contact an HVAC professional for repairs. If the thermostat isn’t working at all, start by turning it on and off to see if it will turn back on. If not, you can test the thermostat by removing the cover and looking at the wiring connections.
Clean the Filters
An air filter is a key component of your HVAC system. It stops dust, pollen, germs, viruses, and other contaminants from getting into your home. A dirty or clogged filter can slow the cooling process and strain your unit.
To clean your air filters, start by vacuuming any dirt off the surface using a hose attachment. This will get rid of most of the loose buildup. Next, wash your filter with a solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid. Dip the filter in the solution and scrub it with a soft brush or sponge, then rinse it thoroughly. Let it dry completely before reinstalling.
If you have an electrostatic or electronic filter, don’t use a high-pressure hose; these types of filters can be damaged by the pressure. You can also spray the outside unit with a hose to make sure there isn’t any dirt, debris, or leaves stuck in or on it. This will help prevent blockage of the coils and ensure that the system is working properly.
Check the Condenser
The most important part of any HVAC system is the condenser. It converts the hot gas into cool liquid, then releases it into the air. It should have a fan blowing on it to
keep the condenser cool.
The condenser can be tested with a multimeter (also known as a digital volt/ohm meter). It is a handheld device that measures the electrical properties of devices by using deflections of an analog needle or a digital display.
Make sure the meter is set to ohms and then connect the red probe of the multimeter to the condenser’s phase point or metal case. The meter should start showing a reading on the screen. This means that the condenser is working properly and is in good condition. If it isn’t then there is a problem with the condenser and it should be replaced. Ideally you should always carry an extra condenser as a traveling spare.
Check the Air Ducts
The ducts are the pathway for the conditioned air to reach your living spaces, and they are where you often find signs of trouble. If you see rust, crush, or kinks in your ducts, you should call an HVAC technician. This is a sign of deterioration, which can lead to air leaks and poor indoor air quality.
Leaky ducts pull in dust from dirty places like the attic and distribute it throughout the house. If you have noticed that your home has more dust than usual, leaky ducts are the most likely culprit.
One way to check for duct leaks is to turn on the HVAC system full blast and move around the house, feeling the airflow in each room. A device called a smoke pencil is available at most home improvement stores and can help you find and mark areas where the airflow is disrupted by a duct leak. This helps make it easy to spot problems that can be fixed once your ductwork has been inspected and cleaned.