When it comes to HVAC general maintenance, how you maintain the areas surrounding your equipment can be just as important as the maintenance of the actual systems. Poor maintenance in the immediate areas surrounding your air conditioner or furnace could decrease system efficiency, damage components, and even put your family in danger. ABC Home & Commercial Services suggests that you follow these HVAC general maintenance tips to protect your heating and cooling equipment.
First, keep the exterior condenser unit or heat pump clear of items. You should leave a clearance of at least two feet surrounding the unit. This will facilitate proper airflow, and allow access to the unit should repairs be required. Never install an enclosure directly against the unit. Outdoor items should never be stored surrounding the unit. Additionally, Never store items directly next to your furnace. This can limit airflow to the unit, which decreases energy efficiency and cause damage to the system. Certain items should never be stored near a furnace, because they can cause a fire or combust. Combustible materials such as paint or gasoline should be kept in an entirely separate area. Clothing and other fabrics stored near a furnace can catch fire and limit airflow. Cat litter boxes should not be kept in furnace rooms, as ammonia fumes can cause corrosion of the furnace’s heat exchanger. Cleaning solutions should be stored outside the furnace room, in sealed containers.
Restricted airflow is also a major problem for heating and cooling systems. Without proper airflow through the system, equipment can become overheated, stressed and forced to consume excessive energy, and it may not be possible to deliver the conditioned air you need in the home. Homeowners should perform HVAC maintenance monthly to ensure their systems have access to adequate airflow—it’ll improve your comfort and system efficiency.
To do so, inspect your air filter, changing it if needed. Most air filters should be changed about every 3 months, but during periods of heavy system use, such as summer and winter months, they may become clogged with contaminants sooner and require changing more frequently. Each month, take a look at your filter—if it’s covered in grey contamination, install a fresh one or clean your replaceable filter. Check all vents and grilles inside the home. No furniture, rugs, or other items should be placed on top or in front of them. All vent louvers should be set to open – if you wish to close off unused areas to save energy, installing a zoning system is a smarter solution. Your home’s HVAC system was designed to work optimally with all vents open—closing them can cause air to back up in the system, damaging HVAC components as well as ducting.
Finally, during summer months, ensure your exterior condenser or heat pump has not become clogged with contaminants. It’s easy for grass clippings to blow up against and cover the fins of the unit, which will restrict air from moving through it. Vegetation growing around the unit can also cause airflow issues. Never store items around your cooling system components. If you wish to build a surround to disguise your equipment, leave proper clearance surrounding the unit to allow for air movement—at least 2 feet.