Summer is right around the corner, and when those warm days arrive your air conditioning system is going to get a sudden boost in usage. Before this happens, the HVAC professionals here at Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc. recommend that you follow these pre-season air conditioning start-up hints and tips:
Step 1: Check and Change Your Air Filters
When your HVAC system has been sitting dormant for months, one of the most important things to check before starting it up are the filters. Air conditioning filters tend to last between 3 and 6 months and after that, they need to be replaced. Follow these steps to check and fix any air filter issues your air conditioning system may have:
- Find the Filter
Obviously you will need to find where your air filter lives before you can check if for dirt, debris, and damage. Most air conditioning filters will be located at the closes return vent to your system. Often these vents are right next to the air handler section of your system (the part of your system that is inside your house).
- Check for Dirt and Damage
Once you’ve located your filter, just remove it and give it a quick visual inspection. If the filter is brown or grey in color (instead of white, blue or green) then it is dirty and should be replaced. Additionally, if you notice any tears or damage in either the filter material or its housing/chassis, then it is time for a new one.
- Check the Date
Most of the time our technicians will write the date that the filter was installed on the edge of the filter in permanent marker. This helps determine the length of time the filter has been installed for and whether or not it has been long enough to warrant a replacement.
- Is the Filter Reusable?
Some HVAC systems use reusable and washable filters instead of disposable ones. These filters will often have a plastic or metal chassis/housing and will more often than not have filter material that is blue or green in color. To clean these filters, just run them under cold water until the water coming off them is clear. Then let them dry for about 3 hours and then reinstall them in your system.
- Replace Your Filter
The final step is to either replace your disposable filter or to reinstall your reusable one. When you do this, just make sure that you get the same size filter (length, width, and depth all need to be identical) and that you install the filter in the correct direction (all filters will have an airflow direction arrow on them and should be installed with respect to that arrow and the direction of airflow through the filter).
Step 2: Check and Clean the Coils
Every air conditioning system has two coils: the evaporative coil and the condensing coil. The evaporative coil’s job is to cool the air coming into the system by running liquid refrigerant through itself and pulling air over it with a fan. The condensing coil’s job is the exact opposite (transforming gaseous refrigerant to a liquid).
To check and clean the condensing coil, just turn off power to the system and run hose water over the coil until the water comes off clean and clear. If the coil still appears dirty after running water over it, then you can go to an HVAC supply store and purchase coil cleaning chemical. Follow the instructions on the chemical and you should be good to go.
Never clean the evaporative coil on your own. Since this coil is often located inside your home or business, running water over it without first removing the coil can be difficult or dangerous. Always leave cleaning the evaporative coil to a professional Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc. HVAC technician.
Step 3: Check Your Fans and Fan Belts
The third step in a pre-season air conditioning start-up job is to check all the fans and fan belts in the system.
Most air conditioning systems have at least two fans: one that moves air through your ductwork at the air handler side of the system, and one that helps transform gaseous refrigerant back into a liquid form at the condenser section of the system. Both of these fans will either be direct drive (motor drives the fan directly with no belts or gears) or be belt driven (the motor drives a piston that moves a rubber belt that turns the fan blades).
If your system has direct drive fans, then simply cleaning them with a moist cloth (while the power is off to the system, of course). If you have belt driven fans in your system, then just clean the fan blades like mentioned before and then check the belts.
To check the belts, simply turn off the power to the system and run your finger along the belt while applying gentle pressure. If there is a lot of slack (give in the tension of the belt) or if there is significant fraying, then its time for new fan belts. You can either contact us here at Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc. for fan belt replacements or you can usually find belts at your local hardware or automotive supply store.
Step 4: Program Your Thermostat for Summer
The final step in preparing your HVAC system for summer use is to program your thermostat in a way that makes the most sense for summer hours and temperatures. We find that the following settings work very well for maintaining a comfortable space while simultaneously keeping energy bills as low as possible:
- Turn AC on (set temp to 72 degrees) if temperatures rise to over 73 degrees Fahrenheit from 4 PM to 9 AM (Monday through Friday)
- Turn Heating on if the temperatures drop below 65 Degrees Fahrenheit (set temp to 72 degrees) from 4 PM to 9 AM (Monday through Friday)
- Turn AC on (set temp to 72 degrees) if temperatures rise to above 76 Degrees Fahrenheit from 9 AM to 4 PM (Monday through Friday)
- Turn Heating on (set temp to 72 degrees) if temperatures drop below 62 Degrees Fahrenheit from 9 AM to 4 PM (Monday through Friday)
- On the weekends, make sure that your heating is set to turn on if the temperatures drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit 24 hours a day
- On the weekends, make sure that your AC is set to turn on if the temperatures rise above 75 degrees 24 hours a day
Too Much For You? Contact Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc. And We’ll Perform These Pre-Season Air Conditioning Start-Up Hints and Tips For You!
We here at Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc. understand that these hints and tips may be a little too technical for the average home or business owner to handle on their own. If you find yourself stressing out about pre-season air conditioning start-up procedures, then feel free to contact us! Our Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc. HVAC technicians would be happy to help you start summer off on a climate controlled foot! Call today!