Know Your HVAC System

Know Your HVAC System

Does your home have heat pumps, central air conditioning, or mini-split systems? Once you know exactly what type of heating and cooling system you have, learn what type of fuel it uses (electricity, oil, propane, or natural gas.) Some other important things you should know about your HVAC system include:

  • Age:If your home was pre-owned, it’s important you know how old the HVAC system is. This will give you an idea of the expected lifespan and any repairs that may be necessary in the near future. Many systems begin to experience issues at around 10-to-15 years of age.
  • Efficiency ratings:HVAC systems have SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio), EER (energy efficiency ratio), AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency), or HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor) ratings. The higher the rating is, the more efficient the system is.
  • Warranty:You’ll likely learn about the warranty when you find out how old the system is. It’s important to research what actions void the warranty as well.

Change Air Filters

The best habit you can start to make sure your HVAC system operates well is regularly replacing the air filters. Not only will it improve the overall air quality in your home, it will also make the system operate more efficiently, reducing your monthly energy bills. Depending on your system, the filters may need to be replaced anywhere from once a month to once every six months, or they may be able to be cleaned instead of requiring replacement. Some models of thermostats actually alert you to when the filter needs to be changed.

Outdoor Units

The outdoor portion of your HVAC system is just as important as the indoor unit, and as such, you need to ensure the area around the outdoor unit is in good shape. Not only does maintaining your landscape improve how your yard looks, it can ensure your HVAC system runs well and has proper airflow. Keep all shrubs, trees, plants, and any other foliage at least three feet away from the unit. Be sure you keep tools, supplies, furniture, and toys clear of the unit. If leaves, snow, or pine needles fall on the unit, it’s important you clear it off quickly.

Mind the Ice

While it’s not a big issue for a small amount of ice to form on the outdoor HVAC unit, it’s important you ensure it doesn’t develop into a large sheet or block of ice. If this happens to your system, call a professional immediately to prevent permanent damage to your system. Whatever you do, do not pour warm or hot water on the ice to attempt to melt it.

Keep the Vents Open

One of the most common HVAC myths that have been passed around is the idea that closing the vents in rooms you don’t use will save energy. Unfortunately, it is actually the opposite, as your system will be put under more strain in order to maintain the comfort levels in your home. It is for that reason it is not recommended to block the vents with furniture, books, blankets, or any other objects.

Duct Hunt

If you’ve noticed your home seems to always be dusty, the temperature is always uneven, smells stale, feels unusually humid, or your energy bills are consistently high, it is likely there is an issue with your ductwork. Whether they need to be cleaned or there is an air leak, you should have a professional inspect the ducts. If your ductwork leaks, it causes your HVAC system to strain more to maintain the temperature you want and it sends air into areas you don’t use, like in between walls. That leads to sky-high energy bills for no benefit.

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