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HVAC Maintenance Check List for Your Summer Tune-Up

We all want the perfect amount of heat during the winter and just the right amount of cool during the summer. And while this is perhaps most obvious during the months of subzero temperatures and scorching heat waves, home heating and air conditioning is usually the last thing on our mind when the weather is nice. But now isn’t just a time to crack the windows in your home and enjoy 70-degree weather. Now is also the best time for an HVAC inspection and maintenance.

If your heat pump or air conditioner malfunctions, you may have to go several days without it while you wait for a repair or – worse – several weeks without cool air if it needs to be replaced. You can prevent this from happening! Best of all, routine HVAC maintenance will also improve your system’s performance, extend its life, and reduce your energy bill. Talk about comfort on multiple levels!

Here are steps that you can take now so you can be comfortable this summer.

HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Homes with an HVAC system either have a heat pump or a conventional air conditioner. While each functions differently in the way they heat and cool your home, they typically benefit from the same, general maintenance. Moreover, both typically consist of two halves: an indoor unit and an accompanying outdoor unit. For your tune-up, we’ll start with your outside unit.

#1. Turn the Power Off

Before you begin working on your HVAC system, you need to turn the power off. Most outside units have a disconnector located only a few feet away. Most disconnectors consist of a handle that is covered by a lid or panel. Pulling on this handle will cut off power to the unit, but not the flow of electricity to the disconnector. In other words, the disconnector will remain “live.” It’s imperative that you cover the disconnector and ensure that none of its other areas are exposed before proceeding. For added safety, you can locate the breaker that controls your HVAC system and switch it off.

Safety should be your highest priority. If you have concerns at any point during this process, contact an HVAC technician to handle your heat pump or A/C maintenance for you.

Maintaining the Outdoor Unit

#2. Inspect the Unit Panels

Extreme weather is harsh on outside units. As you would expect, outdoor units are enclosed in panels that protect their electrical components from the elements. Check every side of the unit to ensure that panels are intact. If panels are missing or misaligned, possibly due to a storm, you could reattach or realign the panel if it’s a simple fix. However, if electrical components are exposed, you should contact an HVAC technician to fix it for you. If so, avoid starting your system again until the unit is fully enclosed.

#3. Clear Away Debris

Winter may have left dirt and debris in the exterior condenser or compressor of your unit. In this case, you can use a heavy-duty degreaser, a hand vacuum, and good old fashioned effort to clean away leaves and other waste caught in the unit. In most cases, you will also need a screwdriver or wrench to reach the interior.

Take this opportunity to cut back any vegetation within 2 feet around your unit. While shrubs are other plants are not direct obstructions, they can still affect the airflow around your unit.

#4. Repair or Replace Pipe Insulation

Check the conduit pipe that runs between your outside unit and its inside counterpart. When this pipe is properly insulated, it will maximize your energy efficiency and consequently save you money. Otherwise, you could be making your HVAC system work harder to do less and be paying more as a result. If your insulation is thin or disintegrated, you can repair or replace it with a layer of fiberglass, foam rubber, or polyethylene foam.

#5. Clean or Replace Air Filters

Like insulation, a clean air filter provides significant benefits for relatively minor work. Depending on HVAC system, your unit will either have filters that can be cleaned or filters that are disposable and will need to be replaced. Either way, make sure to clean or replace your filters every one to three months, unless instructed otherwise by your manufacturer.

Maintaining the Indoor Unit

Now is the time to move inside to work on your blower or furnace. Like before, safety is your highest priority. You’ll want to make sure that the power to the unit is cut off before moving forward.

#6. Clean the Evaporator Coil

Locate and open the door to your unit’s evaporator coil, removing any screws or bolts as necessary. With a soft brush, remove any dust that is present and then spray the coil with a commercial coil cleaner. Next, clean out the drain pan with a mixture of soap, hot water, and a little bit of bleach. Then, pour a mixture of half a cup of bleach with a half a cup of water down the drain. When you’re done, replace and seal the door.

#7. Check the Drainage Line

Algae and mold can build up within your drainage line causing it to either flow slowly or stop flowing altogether. In order to address this, locate your drainage hose, which is usually a one-inch PVC pipe, and follow it to the end where it trains. In some cases, the line will drain outside near your other unit; however, most will end at a utility sink or floor drain in your basement. Once you’ve located the end of the drain line, attach a vacuum hose to the opening. Finally, run the vacuum for a few minutes to clear away any potential mold or algae buildup inside.

#8. Change the Air Filters

Just like your outside unit, your blower or furnace requires air filters that need to be replaced on a regular basis. This means that you should follow the same steps as you did before while still paying special attention to the type of filter you use and your manufacturer’s guidelines.

#9. Test the Unit

Finally, it’s time to start up your system to check to see if it cools your home adequately. Does everything run smoothly? Does the temperature in your home reach the degree you want it to? Does the temperature in your home change in a reasonable amount of time?

Remember, if you encountered any kind of damage that gave you a reason for concern, you’ll want to skip this step and contact an HVAC technician instead. Moreover, if you’re not fully satisfied with the quality of air in your home, turn to a professional.

Receive Professional HVAC Maintenance

While these steps will help keep your heat pump or air conditioner in good shape, keep in mind that there are some maintenance items that only a professionally trained HVAC technician can handle. These advanced procedures, together with the items listed above, will ensure that your units are in top form and fully prepare for the summer ahead. Moreover, there may be instances where you lack the tools to do some of the aforementioned steps yourself. In either case, it’s a good idea to call an HVCA professional to make sure your system is blowing cool air – and not just blowing air – when it’s sweltering outside.

At Steve’s Heating & Cooling, our goal is to provide residents of Northern Kentucky and the surrounding tri-state with ideal home comfort. We provide emergency HVAC repair maintenance as well as free estimates for system repairs and replacements. Our certified technicians are available 24/7, 365 days a year and just a phone call or e-mail away! Call us at (859) 795-2172 or e-mail us and rest assured that you’re in good hands.

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Why You Should Filter Your Air

Dirty air is a big problem. The World Health Organization estimates that over 6 million people die each year from the combined effects of household air pollution and ambient air pollution. Outdoor air pollution has been an issue for a long time, but people don’t tend to give as much thought to the quality of the air indoors. Indoor air is usually between 2-5 times dirtier than outdoor air, and that number is much higher if you use any sort of solid or liquid fuel to heat your home, like wood or oil. Indoor air is dirty because, for the most part, dust doesn’t have anywhere to go. In recent years, doors have become less drafty and windows have become less leaky. While this is great for electricity bills, all the dust particles that got carried outside by those drafts now remain inside the home. Even with constant washing and vacuuming (and we’re willing to wager that the average American doesn’t vacuum as often as they should), indoor air is still pretty dirty.

It’s counterintuitive, but the smaller the dust particle, the more dangerous it is. Big dust particles get stuck in the nose and throat and eventually get breathed out. Small particles escape these safeguards and end up going into your lungs, where they get absorbed into your blood. That’s bad for you whether the particle was toxic or not, and they sometimes are. What’s worse, a 2016 British study showed that air pollution is ubiquitously bad for everyone. Though unsurprising, that statistic only confirms what people had already suspected: they should be breathing cleaner air. The most effective way to achieve this is with an air filter. Steve’s Heating offers installation of Trane’s CleanEffects™ whole-home air filter. These are much more effective than standalone air filters or purifiers, which only clean the air directly around them. There’s an added bonus in that the Trane filter traps much, much smaller particles than HEPA filters, which are currently the gold standard for filtration. If that’s not enough to convince you, here are some other reasons you should consider purifying your air at home:

Reason 1: you live with a smoker

The first thing you should know about cigarettes and air purifiers is that they do a great job of dealing with the smell of cigarette smoke. The second thing you should know is that air purifiers don’t make cigarette smoke any less dangerous, even though they deal with smoke odor. That’s because the dangerous parts of cigarette smoke are all gaseous pollutants, which air purifiers can’t do anything about—air purifiers can only clean particles from the air, which account for the smell of cigarette smoke. So, keep in mind that air purifiers will make living with a smoker much more pleasant, but they won’t make it healthier. The only way to do that is to make them quit.

Reason 2: You have pets

If you have pets, it’s likely that they are the biggest contributor of dust in your home. Pets not only ensure that your house will be dirtier and require more cleaning, but their dust can also be dangerous to people with asthma, young children, or people with respiratory problems. Even if you don’t have any people in your household who are put in danger by excess dust, it’s still an irritant that can cause a runny nose and scratchy throat.

Reason 3: You have allergies

Excess dust affects people regardless of whether or not they have allergies, but it can be a nightmare for people who do. Dust allergies are most commonly triggered by near-microscopic creatures called dust mites. They are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye—just a third of a millimeter—and their waste and dead bodies often float around in the air until they get inhaled or settle into fabric. Many of the people who experience symptoms of allergies in dusty homes are actually allergic to dust mites. Luckily, dust mites are not so small that they can escape Trane’s air purifier, which can pick up particles as small as .3 microns. For scale, that’s .00003 mm.

Reason 4: You just like the idea of breathing healthier air

Maybe you don’t have allergies, a sick baby, or pets. Maybe you just like the idea of breathing cleaner air. And why shouldn’t you? Your home is the one place that is completely yours, so it should be as comfortable and healthy as it can be. Purifying your air will make you feel better and give you the peace of mind you need to be your best self.

By now, you probably know a thing or two about dirty air and why it’s a problem. If you decide you want to take the next step, give Steve’s Heating a call. We’ll even provide a free estimate for installing the filter.

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The Value of Annual AC Maintenance

Spring is here, and that means it’s the time of year to arrange for a professional air conditioning maintenance. Routine spring maintenance is one of the biggest favors you can do for your AC—and for yourself and your family! We offer air conditioning maintenance in Northern Kentucky and the surrounding areas. If you call today, you’ll be able to arrange for a convenient time for the inspection and tune-up and be able to face the first hot day of 2019 with no worries. 

Why Annual Maintenance is Important

We can hear that nagging part of your brain telling you that this isn’t necessary. “Every year? That seems extreme. The AC is working fine, what’s the point in putting more money into it?” Please don’t listen to that voice. If you want the AC to pay back your initial investment in it and provide reliable cooling, you must have maintenance done each year. (Spring is the best time for it because it cleans and adjusts the system before you need it the most).

Here are some reasons annual maintenance is vital for an AC:

  • It removes wear, tear, and dirt. As an air conditioner runs, it starts to wear down—just like any machine. It also collects dirt, which gets into all the components and damages this. This accumulation of strain and dirt can mean extra, costly repairs to keep the AC running. Even worse, it can mean an AC that must be replaced years ahead of time. Without maintenance, an air conditioner can expect to last maybe 8 years. With maintenance, those years double!
  • It makes the system dependable. The hottest day of the year comes along, placing a large workload on the air conditioner. Do you want to worry that this extra strain will cause the air conditioner to break down and leave you with a hothouse? The best way to enjoy peace of mind that your air conditioner will fight its way through whatever the coming summer hurls at it is to have the system professionally tuned-up.
  • It keeps the AC from costing too much to run. The energy efficiency of your system is only good if the air conditioner receives annual maintenance. Each year that it misses maintenance, your unit’s efficiency will decline. You might end up paying 25% more for your home cooling annually than you should.

Having spring air conditioning maintenance done isn’t a chore. In fact, Steve’s Heating makes it easier than any other local heating and cooling company. We are pleased to be able to offer you membership in our unique Comfort Club.  Membership ensures that your systems will always be maintained and performing well. Additional benefits include:

  • Semi-annual precision tuneup and system inspection
  • 10% discount on all repairs
  • 24-hour emergency service with no overtime charges
  • Comfort Club membership is also transferable, if you decide to sell your home

Ready to get your AC in-shape for spring? Interested in the perks of our Comfort Club? Get in touch today.