Every year, residents in Sacramento, CA, must switch their HVAC systems from cooling in the summer to heating in the winter. All the hard work performed by your heating and cooling unit results in a lot of wear and tear. Excessive wear and tear leads to more system breakdowns and could shorten the equipment’s lifespan. Use these 10 tips to minimize wear and tear on your HVAC system, prevent comfort disruptions, and avoid the premature replacement of equipment.
1. Change the Air Filter
If you only have time to do one thing to reduce the overuse of your heating and cooling system, it should be to change the air filter. The air filter has tiny pores for capturing dust and debris. If those pores fill, airflow is decreased. Low airflow results in the thermostat triggering the system to perform more heating or cooling cycles, which causes unnecessary wear and tear. Checking and replacing the air filter only takes a couple of minutes. Open its housing and slide out the filter. If it’s visibly dirty, replace it. Be sure to replace the air filter at least every three months or sooner if it’s dirty.
2. Clean the Vents
Your home’s air vents may collect sticky grime, dust, pet hair, and debris. This buildup also impedes airflow. Once each month, take off the vent covers. Prepare a solution of warm water and several drops of dish soap. Use the cleaning solution and a soft microfiber cloth to clean all surfaces of the vent cover. Use a different cloth to dry the vent cover. Do this for all vent covers in each room. While the vent covers are drying, use a wet/dry vacuum or a standard vacuum’s hose to suction debris out of the vent’s opening. Replace the vent covers.
3. Schedule Duct Inspection and Cleaning
Dirty air ducts halt the flow of warmed or cooled air from your HVAC system into the rooms of your home. Over time, duct seals can degrade or fail. Gaps may develop between segments of the ducts. Leaky ducts could waste up to 30% of the heated or cooled air produced by your HVAC system. The gaps also allow dust or pests to get inside the ducts. Debris in the ducts will cause excess wear and tear. A camera inspection identifies damage and debris buildup. The ducts may need cleaning or sealing.
4. Upgrade Your Thermostat
Consider installing a smart thermostat that will connect to your Wi-Fi system. It could save 10% on your winter heating costs. The thermostat does this by learning your schedule through geofencing with an app on your phone. Each brand of smart thermostat typically comes with an app that needs to download onto your smartphone. With the app, you can make temperature adjustments in case your workday lasts longer than expected or traffic is heavy and you won’t be home at your usual time.
5. Clean Your Home
Keeping your home clean is another way to reduce wear and tear on your heating and cooling system. Regular vacuuming removes particles from the air, so those particles are less likely to make their way into supply and return ducts or onto the coils of the heating and cooling system.
6. Clear Debris From the Outdoor Unit
Debris around the outdoor unit interferes with its ability to exchange heat with the outdoor air. If the heat pump or air conditioner can’t exchange heat with the outdoors, it’s not as efficient at reaching the temperature on your thermostat. This causes it to cycle more frequently and experience excessive wear and tear. Keep grass, flowers, trees, and shrubs cut away from the outdoor unit. Once a heating or cooling cycle finishes, turn off the system’s power at the circuit breaker. With your garden hose’s sprayer attachment, rinse the outdoor unit. If there’s sticky tree sap or other debris, use a scrub brush with soft bristles to remove it.
7. Program the Thermostat
Programming the thermostat is another method of reducing excessive wear and tear. You can set a different temperature for the time you wake up, daytime, return home, and overnight. The programming functions allow you to set up different temperatures for different days of the week. If you have a schedule that involves working for a few days, then having a few days off, you can program the thermostat once per week. In the winter, lowering the thermostat by several degrees while you are away reducing the number of heating cycles the HVAC system goes through. In the summertime, raise the temperature on the thermostat during the times you’re away from home. You’ll save money, decrease wear and tear and maintain your same level of comfort while at home.
8. Sanitize the Condensate Line
If your home has a heat pump or air conditioner, sanitizing the condensate line is another critical step for reducing wear and tear. The condensate line drains the condensed water from your home’s air in the summertime. If the line is clogged, the water can’t go anywhere. A water backup could cause a shutdown of the heat pump or air conditioning system. With the system’s power off, disconnect the condensate drain. Pour a 10% bleach solution into the pipe. Use a long scrub brush to release algae and muck from the sides of the pipe. Rinse the line clean and reattach it. Our technicians also do this during a routine maintenance visit.
9. Seal Air Leaks
Your heating and cooling system work hard to keep a consistent temperature in your home. Air leaks allow unwanted exchange with the outdoor air. A draft around a window or door could cause one room to be too cold or too hot. If the thermostat happens to be located close to an air leak, it will trigger the heating and cooling system to cycle more often. These cycles cause extra wear and tear on the motor, compressor, and capacitor. Use caulk to seal around windows. Weatherstripping is a good way to reduce air leaks around doors. Consider an energy audit to find out if your home lacks insulation or has air leaks around vents, flues, chimney, plumbing, or electrical openings.
10. Schedule a Tune-Up
While you can do a lot to reduce unnecessary wear and tear on your heating and air conditioning system, many maintenance tasks are best left to our NATE-certified professionals. Our technicians thoroughly inspect and clean furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, air conditioners, and other heating and cooling systems. We lubricate moving parts, which reduces friction that causes excessive wear and tear. Our technicians check all safety valves, sensors, and pressure levels. We can also run a system performance test to make sure the system operates efficiently and quietly.
At Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, we’re Sacramento’s go-to provider for heating and air conditioning maintenance. Our NATE-certified technicians also offer affordable heating and air conditioning repair, replacement, and installation services. To learn more or schedule any of our services, call us today.