One of the biggest reasons for a breakdown is the lack of maintenance performed on HVAC systems. The goal of this article is to inform the public about some of the pitfalls and hopefully help you keep your unit running in tip-top shape. There will come a day when part warranties are vetted to include a preventative maintenance plan being in place before the breakdown. Keeping the system clean and avoiding future issues where copper is rubbing, or electrical connections are not secure. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure that the equipment is being maintained up the industry standards. Companies such as ours can take the stress out of maintaining your equipment. We run software that tracks appointments, payment, and inspection history.
Every preventative maintenance plan should include the following:
Condenser coil cleaning
- This is critical because dirty condenser coils do not move air across the copper pipes carrying refrigerant, which raises the pressure within the pipes. This is hard a many of the components of the system as well as reduces cool air output in cooling mode. Condenser coils can be dirty enough to cause a breakdown on their own by causing the pressures to rise to dangerous levels and causing the safety to turn off power to the system.
Evaporator coil inspection and cleaning if needed
- If filters are being changed regularly as they should, the evaporator usually stays clean. If it’s dirty, it could also be an indicator that either the return duct has a hole in it or the return box is not properly sealed. Either can cause a breakdown and should be monitored to avoid the breakdown. When the evaporator coil gets too dirty, it causes ice to build up that will block airflow to the house. Eventually, it will completely block all the airflow and can cause blower motor failure, refrigerant leaks, and other costly issues.
Verification that the return filter is clean
- Return filters should really be changed as they get dirty instead of on a time schedule. In a very clean house with no pets, the filter will likely last a month. Obviously, all houses are not the same when it comes to dust production or hair production. It is best to at least change the filter when you pay your electric bill at the latest. If the filter is very dirty when you change it, try changing it a little more often, like every 3 weeks or every 2 weeks. A dirty filter can cause a blower motor failure, the unit to not be capable of reaching desired temperature, and ice buildup on the coil.
Inspection of all electrical connections
- Electrical connection points should be inspected at least once per year. Connection points can vibrate loose, causing a component to fail or shut the unit down. Connection points can also become corroded, which can also cause a component to break down. Also, electrical wires that are not strapped up properly can rub the insulation of the wire bare and cause an arch of electricity to happen. This can lead to failed components or, worse yet, a refrigerant leak if the arc kit’s copper tubing. We see both of those quite often, and it is completely avoidable most of the time.
Inspection of motors and pumps
- This inspection should include checking capacitor readings, pulling amp draw on all motors and compressors, and inspecting connection points on all the above. This information can let you know that when something is getting close to failure. They could also be indicators that you have something else going on that will cause a premature failure. Lack of airflow for example will make a blower fan amp draw reading low. Addressing the lack of airflow could save a lot of life for the blower motor.
- There are multiple things that need to be checked with a gas heating system, especially. The most important component to have checked every year is your heat exchangers. Heat exchangers carry off-gases that are harmful or even fatal if you were to breathe in the fumes, especially over extended periods of time. Carbon Monoxide is one of these harmful byproducts produced by the furnace that builds up in your body with continued exposure. Eventually, your body will not be able to release oxygen from your blood to your body. Because of this is, it is critical that your heat exchangers be inspected once per year. A tiny crack in the heat exchangers is enough to be dangerous.
- Additionally, inspection of the safety switches, burners, orifices, pressure switch, flame sensor, and igniter are all important to keep clean and set correctly. Comfort Club Members can rest easy knowing that their heat has been cleaned, serviced, and tested to avoid most breakdowns before it becomes an emergency.
Heat Pump and Heat Strip Inspection
- Heat pump systems use mostly the same components for primary heating as your air conditioner does for cooling. The extra components to switch your system from cooling mode to heat pump mode should be checked annually as well.
- All heat pump systems have a secondary heat source because they are not capable of producing heat for your home once the outside temperature drops too low. This is generally around 35 degrees outside temperature. At or below that temperature, the unit will start using either heat strips or gas heat. Heat strips should also be inspected working.
- The last thing you want to deal with is having no heat when it is super cold outside because your backup heat isn’t working. There are many components involved with backup heat and still many issues that can be resolved on a preventative maintenance visit. This saves you money on the repair and avoids the breakdown later.
- There are many issues that can be found with ductwork. Some issues can cause component failure within the unit. Others can cause structural damage to your subfloor and floor joists. Some ductwork issues can even cause mold and fungi to grow and take over your crawlspace or worse, inside of your home. There is a science to ductwork installation, and we will discuss more of the pitfalls of improperly installed ductwork in a different blog. Comfort Club members get an in-depth duct inspection on the first visit and a quick checkup on all other visits. The initial inspection is designed to locate an issue in a detailed inspection. Once everything is noted, and if approved addressed, after that the inspections are just looking for changes and often can be simply a glance in the crawlspace. On the second and on inspections we are just looking for anything that may have changed that might cause an issue later, such as ductwork or insulation damaged by rodents or small animals, or straps failing. The goal in all these inspections is to address the small items and try to avoid expensive repairs by stopping the damage in advance.
Comfort Masters A/C offers a preventative maintenance plan called the Comfort Club. Comfort Club Members get a variety of perks along with the services listed above. For starters, we go a little further than the list above. We clean the unit inside and out while we are there, so your unit looks its best, functions its best, and is completely safe to use. Comfort Club Members also get additional perks such as:
- A $300.00 discount on replacement units when the time comes for replacement.
- A $100.00 discount on new mini-split and PTAC units.
- Front of the line service in the case of a breakdown, so you can be scheduled in front of non-club members.
- Peace of mind that your unit is in the best shape that it can be, and your number of breakdowns is minimized.
- Indoor Air Quality products are serviced for free with your membership while we are there.
- Receive a copy of the report from your visit, so you can see what was checked and how it was graded.
- A copy of the report also allows you to see trends in your readings and compare them to previous visits.
- Enjoy less breakdowns throughout the years, as well as issues are addressed before they become major issues.