When you live in Richmond, Virginia, you want to make sure your air conditioner runs smoothly all summer long so that you can look forward to cool days and comfortable nights. Keeping your cooling system going strong takes some basic maintenance, which is ideal for DIY-minded homeowners. From maintaining the landscaping around your outdoor unit to adjusting the thermostat, follow six easy tips for maintaining your HVAC system.
Maintain the Landscape Around the Outdoor Unit
When homeowners think of their air conditioners, the first area that comes to mind is usually the indoor portion. When maintaining your system, however, the outdoor unit is a great place to start, especially during the summer months. After all, the summer is the growing season in Richmond, and grass, shrubs, flowers, and trees may grow over your outdoor unit and impede its operation.
On a weekly basis, trim the grass around the unit. Cut back flowers and prune shrubs and tree limbs, giving the unit at least a 2-foot radius. Remove fallen branches, leaves, and other debris every week to make sure that nothing obstructs the airflow.
Keep the Indoor Unit Clear
Use the same principle for the indoor unit. Make sure that you have at least 2 feet of clearance around the unit. Never lean anything against the air conditioner, and take care to keep supplies and household goods at least 2 feet away from the unit. If you block the cooling system’s airflow, you could prevent the air conditioner from running efficiently, leading to breakdowns or higher utility bills later in the season.
Change the Air Filter
Whether your family suffers from allergies and asthma or you simply want to enjoy clean air at home, one of the most important steps you can take is to change your air filter regularly. At Air Excellence, we recommend replacing the filter every 90 days during the winter, spring, and fall. When summer arrives and you have the air conditioner running regularly, step up your schedule and replace the air filter every 30 days.
Replacing the air filter will give your home’s indoor air quality a boost, since the air filter is your first line of defense against inhaling dust, pet dander, pollen, and other airborne contaminants. when you make your air filter change often, you'll also help your air conditioner run more smoothly, since the filter keeps these pollutants from entering your HVAC system.
Adjust the Thermostat
When you turn on your cooling system for the season, don’t simply use the same thermostat settings that you set during the winter. Instead, adjust the thermostat for the season. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting the thermostat to 78 degrees when you’re home and awake.
Use the thermostat’s programming functions to automatically increase the temperature by 8 to 10 degrees when your family is away at work or school or asleep for the night. Not only can this adjustment save you up to 10 percent on your annual energy bill, but it can also reduce the strain on your HVAC system and help your air conditioner last longer.
Most smart thermostats offer a number of alerts and warnings. Pay attention to these alerts to know when the air filter needs to be replaced, when the indoor air quality components need service, or when you need to schedule routine maintenance. These alerts will help you stay on top of the system’s condition to make sure that no performance issues escape your notice.
Schedule Routine Maintenance
Cooling systems of all ages benefit from HVAC maintenance, so our team recommends scheduling an annual tuneup. During a maintenance session, one of our technicians will complete a checklist, including checking fluid levels, testing the blower, inspecting the wiring, and cleaning both the indoor and outdoor units. While we recommend getting a tuneup as early in the season as possible, it’s never too late to maintain your air conditioner.
Whether you need to schedule maintenance or you’re in the market for an efficient new system, Air Excellence Inc. is at your service. Call us for all of your HVAC system needs this summer: 804-885-3888.
Image provided by Shutterstock