Best Practices for Furnace & Air Conditioners

Maintaining Your Air Conditioner

An air conditioner's filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout it's years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.

Air Conditioner Filters

The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal air flow and reduce a system's efficiency significantly. With normal air flow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil's heat-absorbing capacity. Keeping the filter clean can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5%–15%.

For central air conditioners, filters are generally located somewhere along the return duct's length. Common filter locations are in furnaces or in the air conditioner itself.

Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air conditioning system's filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house.

Air Conditioner Coils

The air conditioner's condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces air flow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to dissipate heat. To avoid this problem, check your coil every year and clean it as necessary.

Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins.

You should minimize dirt and debris near the condenser unit. Your dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mower are all potential sources of dirt and debris. Cleaning the area around the coil, removing any debris, and trimming foliage back at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) allow for adequate air flow around the condenser.

Coil Fins

The aluminum fins on evaporator and condenser coils are easily bent and can block air flow through the coil.

Condensate Drains

Occasionally pass a stiff wire through the unit's drain channels. Clogged drain channels prevent a unit from reducing humidity, and the resulting excess moisture may discolor walls or carpet.

Article courtesy of EnergySavers.gov

Maintaining Your Furnace

The following maintenance should be provided by a heating system professional.

All Systems:

  • Check the condition of your vent connection pipe and chimney. Parts of the venting system may have deteriorated over time. Chimney problems can be expensive to repair, and may help justify installing new heating equipment that won't use the existing chimney.
  • Check the physical integrity of the heat exchanger. Leaky boiler heat exchangers leak water and are easy to spot. Furnace heat exchangers mix combustion gases with house air when they leak—an important safety reason to have them inspected.
  • Adjust the controls on the boiler or furnace to provide optimum water and air temperature settings for both efficiency and comfort.
  • If you're considering replacing or retrofitting your existing heating system, have the technician perform a combustion-efficiency test.

Forced-air Systems:

  • Check the combustion chamber for cracks
  • Test for carbon monoxide (CO) and remedy if found
  • Adjust blower control and supply-air temperature
  • Clean and oil the blower
  • Remove dirt, soot, or corrosion from the furnace or boiler burners
  • Check fuel input and flame characteristics, and adjust if necessary
  • Seal connections between the furnace and main ducts.

Anytime you maintain, retrofit, or replace a gas heating system you also need to be concerned with air quality. Combustion air is needed by all oil and gas heating systems to support the combustion process. This air is provided in some homes by unintentional air leaks, or by air ducts that connect to the outdoors. The combustion process creates several byproducts that are potentially hazardous to human health and can cause deterioration in your home. You can protect yourself from these hazards, as well as maintain energy efficiency, by ensuring that your gas heating system is properly ventilated.

Article courtesy of EnergySavers.gov


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Replacing Your Furnace

Although older furnace and boiler systems had efficiencies in the range of 56%–70%, modern conventional heating systems can achieve efficiencies as high as 97%, converting nearly all the fuel to useful heat for your home. Energy efficiency upgrades and a new high-efficiency heating system can often cut your fuel bills and your furnace's pollution output in half.  Learn more....

Financing & Incentives

 


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