While there is no statistical evidence
supporting my opinion, I would say 5:01 p.m. on a Friday, when outdoor
temperatures are soaring greater than 95 degrees and clear skies are forecasted
all weekend long. At that time, you are faced with a choice: Do you call a
heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor and pay overtime
and additional charges to be cool, or do you suffer through the never-ending
weekend to get next week’s standard rates after being placed on a waiting list
for the next available technician?
I have another idea. How
about minimizing chances you will ever be in this position? Has your air
conditioning system had a cooling system tune-up in the last three years? Maybe
you’re wondering what a cooling system tune-up even is!
If it has been of few
years, now is the time to have your HVAC contractor inspect, service and clean
it. Typically, tune-ups on cooling systems that have been neglected can provide
5 to 15 percent energy savings or more. Not to mention your unit can better
perform from a comfort and equipment longevity standpoint. At a minimum, a
tune-up should include the following:
- Clean Condenser Coil – Outdoor condenser coils
can become very dirty if outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage
nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting
on its fins. These coils are also easily bent and can block airflow through the
coil. An HVAC technician will use a tool called a "fin comb" to align
fins into nearly original condition. The technician also has access to
commercial-grade cleaning products to best remove dirt and other contaminants.
- Check Refrigerant Charge – Performance and efficiency of your air conditioner is
greatest when the refrigerant charge exactly matches the manufacturer's
specification. In the event your system is low, the HVAC technician will add
just the right amount to optimize performance.
- Clean Indoor Coil – Your indoor coil is inside your furnace or ductwork. Even though you
may be faithful about changing out filters, dust, allergens and airborne
particles can accumulate on its fins and dramatically reduce efficiency. Even
worse, dirty coils can become a source for mold and other bacteria to thrive.
If you think your cooling system runs longer than it used to, has reduced
capacity or the evaporator coil is freezing up, it needs to be cleaned.
- Check Belt / Lube Motor – Over time, belts crack and signal their impending
failure. Some fan motors require occasional oiling to lubricate moving parts
and reduce premature motor failure.
- Blow Out Drain Line – Condensate drain lines are a continuous source of
moisture during the cooling season. If water does not flow through the drain
line properly, mold, mildew and fungus can develop and create a situation
detrimental to your health. In addition, if mold, algae growth or other debris
obstruct or block the condensate drain line, the condensate pan can become filled
with water and eventually overflow.
- Perform Visual Inspection of System – To the HVAC technician’s trained eye, problems with
your system you may consider as normal can be readily recognized and rectified.
- Discuss Proper Operation – The HVAC technician can clarify whether that “sound”
you might hear is normal. They can discuss proper control sequences to assure
heating and cooling systems do not operate simultaneously, and also how to
optimize operation for efficiency and comfort.
- Discuss/Review Proper Temperature Set-Back – Not sure how to program your thermostat to
automatically adjust your setting while you are away? The HVAC technician knows
- Filter Service Schedule – In addition to discussing the quality and
effectiveness of various filters, the technician can help identify how often
you should be changing your filter. Some homes need to do this monthly, while
others may get by with the same filter for six months or longer. According to
the Department of Energy, replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one
can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent.
Finally, check with your
local electric utility to see if you are eligible for an EnergyWise℠ Cooling System Tune-Up incentive of $30. They also have additional ideas on
other energy-saving improvements that can help you beat the red-hot summer heat
while saving some cool green!