If you look up informal definitions of “fickle,” one description is “blows hot and cold.” Well, isn’t fickle the perfect description for weather in Western Pennsylvania around this time of year? Overall, it’s remained fairly chilly this April, with the exception of a few days where you may have used your air conditioning rather than the furnace. Heck, many of us switch from one to the other, and back again, on the same day during the transition from winter to spring! (And don’t get us started on deciding what to wear on those days!)
Before the warm weather and the use of you’re A/C becomes the norm, make sure your HVAC system is up for the long-haul by incorporating your unit into your spring-cleaning routine. We know spring-cleaning has many perks, and we tend to think about it in terms of things we can see around the house. Even though you might not think of your HVAC unit when it comes to spring-cleaning, giving it the love it needs will not only ensures it works efficiently all summer long, but it also helps you keep the rest of the house clean.
Here’s a list of spring-cleaning steps for your HVAC unit and how they benefit your household.
Your air conditioning unit has components both inside and outside your home. So, let’s split the list to address each area, and start with the steps you can take inside your house.
Change the Filter
We know: You know this one already because we keep telling you!
At a minimum, HVAC filters should be changed with each season. When you create a habit of changing your filters every 90 days or less, it keeps debris from building up on your HVAC, which helps it run more efficiently. In fact, clean filters can increase energy efficiency by up to 5%! If you have pets, your filters will become clogged and dirty faster, so you may want to change them as often as once a month, instead of seasonally, to keep your energy efficiency and your air quality high.
If you’re not sure which filters are right for your system, we wrote about it in more detail here. Plus, we’re always available to answer questions and get you set up with the filters that are best for your HVAC system and family.
Check and Clean the Registers
While you’re doing the floors for spring-cleaning, be sure to check and clean the supply and return vents. Make sure conditioned air isn’t blocked from flowing freely into every area of your home by checking to see that all registers are open and nothing (e.g., rugs, window treatments) is blocking them. For thorough cleaning, don’t just vacuum or wipe down the grills. Remove them from the vents before vacuuming off dust and pet hair. Finish by washing them with warm, soapy water before replacing them.
Clean and Turn on Your Fans
Be sure to dust off the ceiling and other fans first and turn them on during the mild days of spring. This will help improve the air quality and circulate fresh air around your home. Opening the windows to let fresh air in is also a good idea, especially if seasonal allergies aren’t a concern.
Don’t overlook the fans in your bathroom and kitchen! Take the covers off and clean the blades with soapy water or another mild cleaning solution. (Don’t forget to make sure they won’t accidentally get switched “on” while you’re doing this!)
Once you’ve tackled the indoor tasks, pick a nice day and work through this outdoor HVAC cleaning list.
Clear Around the Outdoor Unit
Even if you did an intensive cleaning around your outdoor unit back in the fall, leaves and other During the winter, leaves and dirt probably built up around your HVAC unit over the winter. Clear away anything that’s accumulated around your outdoor unit and make sure any nearby plants aren’t encroaching on the unit. Your outdoor A/C system needs 1-2 feet of clearance all the way around the unit to maximize both airflow and efficiency.
Check and Clean the Unit Itself
It’s a good idea to clean the entire outside of the unit, as well. You can wipe it down or even vacuum dirt off the sides with a brush attachment. For safety’s sake, turn off the power to the unit first! If you notice that any of the components of the unit look like they’re misaligned or dinged up, give us a call so we can assess and fix the damage.
Finally, take a close look at the refrigerant line that runs between the unit and your house. It’s wrapped with foam insulation, which should completely cover the line. If any of that insulation is missing or damaged, you’ll want to have us repair that before you start using the A/C for the summer.
Give It a Test Run
Ideally, you’d have completed this cleaning checklist before you run the A/C for the first time this year. Even if you have turned on the air conditioning couple of times already this year, it’s not too late to give it a “test.” Turn on the A/C and then wait a few minutes. Confirm that it’s pushing cool air into the rooms in your home and that the air remains cool after it’s been running for a while.
If the air doesn’t seem cool enough – or as cool as it used to be – give us a call. It could be a sign that your system needs to be replaced, but it’s more likely it just needs a tune-up or new coolant.
Schedule Your Clean and Check
Completing this spring-cleaning checklist is “better than nothing” when it comes to getting the most out of your HVAC unit. But here’s some tough love: If you really want to maximize your energy efficiency and the lifespan of your HVAC system, call in the professionals! Regular maintenance prevents system breakdowns and will extend the life of your system. Plus, it ensures you and your family will enjoy uninterrupted comfort when the Pittsburgh heat and humidity start pressing down on us this summer.
Give us a call today to set up your clean and check appointment. (Pro tip: Check your local newspapers and flyers for special, seasonal savings!)