Your air conditioning and heating system needs routine maintenance to keep it running its best, just like your car. Without regular servicing, heating and cooling systems waste energy and are more likely to break down frequently. With annual maintenance, you can prevent costly repairs and experience worry-free comfort for years to come. There are many benefits to regular maintenance:
As much as half of your energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. Making sure it is performing efficiently will directly impact your monthly utility bills. Just like your car, your heating and cooling system also needs regular tune-ups.
When we turn on our central heat and air units, we want them to be able to deliver exactly the temperature we want and to deliver it all day long. If the HVAC unit is not running properly it may be working too hard and we will not experience the comfort of a consistent air temperature that we should be.
One reason many avoid routine maintenance to their HVAC system is the expected high cost of doing so. Due to this fear, many homeowners wait until their home air conditioner won’t cool or their furnace won’t ignite before they call their heating and cooling company.
At this point, not only do they have to typically pay more for repair or replacement than they would have for regular maintenance, but may find themselves waiting around on the hottest or coolest day of the year when their service company is backed up with so many other calls.
Having your HVAC system put on a yearly schedule of having the A/C serviced in the spring and the furnace tested in the fall saves money and time. Regular maintenance will pay for itself in lower repair costs and more efficient operation.
Routine, scheduled furnace maintenance not only allows for a more efficient and trouble-free operation, but it is also a matter of safety. A typical maintenance check-up will include tightening all electrical connections and measuring the voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and shorten the life of major components.
Improperly maintained heating equipment can become a fire and carbon monoxide hazard, causing a health risk or even death. Holes in your system’s heat exchanger or firebox can leak carbon monoxide or allow flames that are normally contained inside the system to reach your living space causing a potentially dangerous situation.
It is important to have your heating and cooling system serviced at least once a year, optimally twice is best. Part of this inspection involves lubricating all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause resistance in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use.
This resistance can also cause equipment to wear out more quickly, requiring more frequent repairs or replacements. When it is properly maintained, you can add several years (3-5 years in some cases) to the life of your furnace and air conditioning system. Not only will you increase the efficiency during its lifetime but you actually add years of efficient use.
Another part of air conditioning maintenance is inspecting the blower components, cleaning and adjusting them. Doing so helps to ensure proper airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.
Most manufacturers require routine maintenance in order to validate the warranty. Routine maintenance will protect you from major system repairs and maintain your manufacturer’s warranty.
With typical service agreements, you pay top dollar for priority service and repairs. With a Comfort Club Membership, you not only get priority service at a discount, but we will work hard to prevent untimely breakdowns from happening in the first place, saving you money in the process. A Comfort Club Membership includes:
Heating Equipment Checklist:
Hartley’s will inspect, calibrate (when applicable) and maintain the following: thermostat, 1” air filter, heat exchanger, temperature rise, fan control, furnace safety controls, gas line safety, gas valve operation, ignition system, all electrical connections, gas pressure, back up heat elements, sequencer operation, volt and amp draw on motors, circuit breakers, oil filter, reversing valve operation, defrost control (when accessible) and cycle test for proper operation.
Cooling Equipment Checklist:
Harley’s will inspect, calibrate (when applicable) and maintain the following: thermostat, 1” filter, temperature drop, condenser oil, air flow, electrical connections, amp and volt draw on motors, refrigerant charge, condensate drain, capacitors, refrigerant leaks, contactor, compressor, compressor terminals, disconnect powerbox, circuit breakers, evaporator coil (when accessible), and cycle test for proper operation.
Heating, Cooling & Plumbing Do-It-Yourself Tips
With proper maintenance and care, your heating, cooling, and plumbing systems will operate dependably for many years. There are several maintenance items that you can do yourself to help ensure the best performance while saving money.
Heating & Cooling
Check the air filter in your furnace or fan coil each month. A dirty filter will cause excessive wear on your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Replace your filter when necessary, or clean it if you have the reusable type. If you have the reusable type filter, make sure it is completely dry before you reinstall it.
Failure to comply with all manufacturer instructions may result in fire or combustion that can cause property damage, serious injury, or death. Before you perform any kind of maintenance, disconnect all electrical power to the unit before removing access panels; and be alert for sharp edges when handling parts or reaching into units. If performing maintenance not included in the list below, check with a Hartley’s Climate Control representative to determine if the service will void manufacturer warranties and guarantees. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Keep your outdoor condensing unit free of debris. If you keep grass clippings, leaves, shrubbery and debris away from your outdoor unit, it should only require minimal care. Check the base pan (under the unit) occasionally and remove debris to help the unit drain properly.
Clean your humidifier at the beginning of every heating season. Review your owner’s manual for the proper procedure to clean the evaporator pad and external components.
Make sure your outdoor coil stays in a level position. If the support for your outdoor coil shifts or settles and the unit is no longer level, re-level it to make sure moisture drains properly out from under the unit.
Inspect your furnace combustion area and vent system before each heating season. If you find dirt, soot or rust, your system may not operate properly or at its peak efficiency. Call Hartley’s Climate Control and do not operate your furnace until it is professionally inspected and/or repaired.
Clean Air Cleaner
The pre-filter and collection cells of an electronic air cleaner should be cleaned at least two or three times per year.
If the exterior of your outdoor coil becomes dirty, use a brush or a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to clean the surface. To clean dirt that is deep in the coil, contact a Hartley’s Climate Control representative to schedule maintenance.
Winterize a Vacant Home
* Preparing your plumbing for the winter is a wise alternative to frozen pipes.
* Turn off the water to your home using the main shut-off valve or contacting the water company.
* Open all faucets, both indoors and outside, starting with the upstairs.
* After all water has dripped from the taps, drain the main shut-off valve by opening the plug. You may have to contact the water company.
* Turn off the power or gas to the water heater. Open the drain valve.
* Remove the clean out plugs on all sink traps or remove the traps. When empty, replace them and fill with plumbing antifreeze mixed with water following the directions for a car in your climate.
* Add a full quart of antifreeze to tubs and showers since you cannot drain them. Do NOT use in a dishwasher or washing machine.
* If your home has a basement floor drain or a main house trap, fill each with undiluted antifreeze.
Preventing Kitchen Drain Clogs
* A clogged drain can be so frustrating; and, of course, it happens more often than we care to think about! Usually, kitchen sink drains clog because of a buildup of grease. The grease traps food particles, which eventually clogs the drain. Now, the bathroom drains are a different story. They are usually clogged by hair and soap. So, take some simple precautions to avoid this situation.
* Don’t pour grease down the kitchen sink.
* Don’t wash coffee grounds down the sink.
* Use chemical cleaners only when necessary. Some chemicals can corrode metal pipes.
* Clean tub and shower drain strainers that are removable.
* Clean pop-up stoppers in the bathroom sink and the tub regularly. Lift out sink pop-ups once a week and rinse them off.
* Every few months, remove the overflow plate on a tub and pull up the pop-up assembly to reach the spring or rocker arm. Remove accumulated hair and rinse thoroughly.
* Keep sewer pipes from the house free of tree roots.
* Flush the drain-waste and vent systems when you are on the roof cleaning out your gutters. Use your hose to run water into all of the vents.
Weak or changing water pressure usually points to a mineral buildup in the shower head. Clean the outlet holes with a pin or unscrew the faceplate and soak it overnight in vinegar. Scrub it clean before replacing it on the shower head.
Scalding Tap Water
Thousands of people are scalded by tap water every year. The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association recommends that the full-on hot water temperature at the faucet be set between 120 degrees and 125 degrees F.
You can help to avoid mildew problems with these preventative actions. Ventilate basements or run dehumidifiers to dry the air, walls and furnishings. Don’t hang wet clothes in your closets. Keep your showers and tubs clean of soap scum so that they dry quicker. Air out your bathroom cabinets and kitchen sink cabinet often.
Use cold water when the disposal is operating. You can clean your disposal by grinding ice cubes. When your disposal needs a little freshening, just grind some lemon peels. Of course, you should read your maintenance manual.
Moisture in the Home
Make sure that vents (with a ventilating fan) are installed in your kitchen and baths. These rooms can produce a lot of moisture. Ventilating fans are great but will be of no use if they are not turned on! So make sure that you use them!
Insulate those pipes before it gets cold! When temperatures are at or below freezing, running a steady drop of hot and cold water from your faucets may keep your pipes from freezing. If your pipes are not insulated, they can freeze even with a small flow of water. So, insulate those pipes! But beware; insulated pipes can freeze when there is no water movement to keep the pipes warm.
Roots can be a big problem. They can grow into the joints of the pipes. A little “root-x” flushed down the toilet can reduce the growth of roots in your pipes. It needs to sit in the pipes overnight, so do it before bed.
If you have any questions about our Comfort Club,
call Hartley’s Climate Control in Rolla at (573) 368-3163 or St. James at (573) 261-3163.