Guide to Energy Efficiency 2 - Maintaining Equipment Guide to Energy Efficiency 2 - Maintaining Equipment
Dirt and neglect are the No. 1 causes of heating and cooling system failure. One of the most important steps you can take to prevent future problems and unwanted costs is proper maintenance. Keep your heating and cooling systems at peak performance by 1. cleaning or replacing the air filter about once a month, and 2. having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups. Contractors get busy during summer and winter months, so it's best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall. For tips on hiring the right contractor, see "Working with a Heating and Cooling Contractor."
Overall System Maitenance Checklist
Your contractor should complete the following each spring and fall:
- Check thermostat settings to ensure the heating and cooling system turns on and off at the programmed temperture.
- Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
- Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use. It can also cause equipment to wear out more quickly, requiring more frequent repairs or replacements.
- Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). If plugged, the drain can cause water damage in the house, affect indoor humidity levels, and breed bacteria and mold.
- Check system controls to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
- Inspect, clean, or change the air filter in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this yourself. Depending on your system, your filter may be found in the duct system versus the heating and cooling equipment itself. A dirty filter causes energy costs to be greater than they should be and can damage your equipment, leading to early failures.
- Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion, and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.
- Clean indoor and outdoor coils before warm weather starts. A dirty coil reduces the system's ability to cool your home and causes the system to run longer, costing you more energy dollars and decreasing the life of the equipment.
- Check your central air conditioner's refrigerant charge and adjust it if necessary to make sure it meets manufacturer specifications. Too much or too little refrigerant charge can damage the compressor, reducing the life of your equipment and increasing costs.
- Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow. Proper airflow over the indoor coil is necessary for efficient equipment operation and reliablity.