Updated: Jan 23, 2020
Your HVAC system- furnace, air handler, and air conditioner, should be serviced or tuned up at least once a year. Or, before the start of each season, to make sure everything is running properly. The last thing you want is your heat to go out during a cold winter, or air conditioning go out on a hot day. Especially here, during the hot #Alabama summers. Preventive maintenance also can extend the life of your HVAC system. The average condenser unit, or AC unit, has a life expectancy of 10-12 years. Although some systems can run beyond that, it is a dangerous game to trust an old system. The furnace/air handler typically has a life expectancy of around 16-20+years. If your in the Alabama area, try calling your preferred local HVAC company PremierServiceCompany.com, banksquarles.com, adamsheatingandcoolinginc.com
We'll start with replacing your air filter. Such an easy task that is usually forgotten. A cheap way to save you a lot of money. Your air filter should be replaced at least every 2-3 months but if you have pets, it should be replaced monthly. The picture above you can see the the condition of a filter that has not been changed for quite some time. This makes your system and motor work a lot harder because it's not getting the proper air flow and costing you more money every month on your energy bills. If not changed for a long period of time, the dust can accumulate in the duct work, clog your system and even start to breathe all that dust and hair in your air quality. Your also running a risk of the dirt, dust, and hair clogging up the condensate line. If the condensate line is clogged and can't drain, then your pan is going to overflow and like cause water damage. Now you can buy what is a called a "Safe-T-Switch" for your catch pan that will cut the system off once the water reaches a certain point. To prevent any possible overflow and water damage. Check out Amazon.com or SupplyHouse.com to check out their amazing products to keep your system running right.
Your Evaporator Coil: The evaporator coil is located in your air handler/furnace. One of the main parts of your system. It's purpose is as the cool refrigerant liquid, Freon or Puron, passes through the coils; the warm house air being blows over the coil and evaporates the liquid to a gas state. If the coils are clogged with dust and hair, then it can not release and absorb the air flow properly. Making your system inefficient. You should clean the coils every so often to check there condition to make sure your system is running properly. If it is dirty and clogged, it could be raising your energy bills, costing you more money.
The Condenser Unit: More commonly known as the air conditioning unit. The function of the condenser coil is to release the excess heat of the compressed gas state of the refrigerant to help cool it to a low pressure gas or liquid state. Same as the evaporator coils, the condenser unit coils should be cleaned every once in a while too. As a home inspector, from time to time I see dryer vents terminating right next to the A/C unit. This is a guaranteed way to make sure your system stays clogged and likely shorten the life span of the unit. The dryer vent should terminate at least 3-5 feet to help make sure all that lint in not covering the unit. It is important to have proper clearance around the whole unit to make sure it is getting proper air flow. I recommend a minimum of at least 1 foot or 12 inches on each side of the unit, and 4 feet above the unit. It is extremely common to find people trying to hide the condenser unit with decorative fencing or bushes and vegetation to make the home more appealing. But it is making your system run inefficiently. Another thing to watch out for when doing yard work around the unit, is to make sure you do not damage the coils. This will also cause the system to not run properly. You want to keep your unit on a concrete or plastic slab at least 3" above grade. This prevents water, dirt, and vegetation from blocking up or getting into the system.
Inspect Your Ductwork: Take a peak in your attic or crawlspace to make sure none of your ductwork is damaged, cut, and sealed to prevent any air loss. The picture below is from a recent home inspection I was on here in #Tuscaloosa. I found that the ductwork had some how become disconnected and blowing all that air just straight into the attic (no wonder it wasn't the normal 140 degrees in there). I showed the current home owner at the time and she was beyond thrilled because she could not understand why one room stayed warmer and not getting any air. Just goes to show what a peak around the house can do. Not only was this wasting loads of money on energy bills, the cool moisture air blowing onto the insulation was causing the insulation to turn black, which is a sign of possible mold.
When making a repair like this one, never use conventional duct tape. It does not seal the duct work properly and eventually lose its adhesive and come off, open up the hole again and let air leak out. You want to use special HVAC tape called aluminum foil tape, you can find it at your local hardware store such as Lowes.com or Homedepot.com
If you have a gas fired furnace, you should inspect it for any possible signs of carbon monoxide leaks or burner condition. Make sure the chimney of the furnace has proper connections, no evidence of rusting, and no damage where carbon monoxide could leak out into the home. If you look around the burners and see any signs of rust or burn marks around the burners than you could be having combustion issues, Which could also be a sign that carbon monoxide is being released into the home. Another reason to always have your HVAC system inspected and service on a regular basis to make sure every is operating properly, keeping your family safe, and saving you money.