The Heat is On: Is Your HVAC System Up to the Challenge?
Are you looking for trouble? Well, when it comes to your home’s HVAC system, experts say you should be.
According to those in the know, pinpointing issues now keeps them from snowballing into bigger — and more expensive — issues down the road.
Ideally, you should schedule servicing your home’s HVAC system at least once a year to ensure everything is in proper working order, according to Andy Patterson, owner of AJP Energy — a local heating and cooling company based in Red Bank, NJ . Getting on a regular schedule lets you stay a step ahead of any lurking issues. “It also lets us become familiar with your system so when things do go wrong, we are able to see the changes,” he says.
Now is the time to get someone out to give your air conditioning system a checkup before the warm weather arrives, says Patterson, to ensure that nothing has gone wrong or become worn out since last summer.
Wait. What’s an HVAC?
Simply put, HVAC stands for “heating, ventilation and cooling,” three functions that are often combined into a single system in many homes. In fact, more modern homes include a dedicated ventilation and cleaning system for controlling the quality of air in your house.
“Just like having a good mechanic for your car, finding a technician you trust to service your HVAC system is good insurance. It lets you have someone in your back pocket who you can call to come over when something needs to get fixed,” says Patterson, who’s owned the business for 12 years.
What to expect when you schedule a service call
Not only does it make sense to schedule an appointment to have a technician give your A/C unit the once-over before warm weather moves in for good, it’s also a great way to ensure it’s working to its full potential and keeping your home cool all summer long.
Your HVAC expert will perform the following maintenance steps to assess the condition of your unit, according to HomeAdvisor:
- Check for proper refrigerant levels. Low levels indicate a leak that needs to be found and repaired immediately. Low refrigerant levels can burn out your compressor, resulting in the most costly repair when it comes to A/C, period.
- Check all electrical components and controls to make sure they’re working properly.
- Clean evaporator and condenser coils. Dirty evaporators and coils reduce the energy efficiency and cooling ability of your unit.
- Oil motors as needed.
- Calibrate thermostat to make sure your A/C isn’t working overtime.
- Check the condenser for any possible problems.
- Check, clean, and/or replace filters. “I can’t tell you how many times we get a call about an air conditioning system that’s stopped working and we show up to find a filter that hasn’t been changed in years,” says Patterson. He suggests homeowners swap out their filters about every three months to avoid freezing up the coils and preventing air from getting through.
Keeping mold and water damage at bay
Another advantage to staying on top of your HVAC system is keeping the threat of mold or water damage at bay.
“Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they find. If you have insulated air ducts, and the insulation gets wet or moldy, it cannot be effectively cleaned, and should be removed and replaced,” the EPA says. “Prior to any cleaning, retrofitting, or replacing of your ducts, the cause of mold must be corrected, or the problem will likely recur.”
Patterson says he got a call last summer about mold that had been uncovered in a cabinet housing an air conditioning unit during a home inspection. “Once that starts, it can really start to spread,” he says of mold that begins to grown in an HVAC system. “An annual maintenance call would have picked that mold up long before the home inspection.
Water damage can stem from systems with clogged condensation lines or frozen coils that cause excess water to spill out of the drain pan. Because units are often hidden up in attics or down in basements, in might not be until water’s making its way out of a ceiling light fixture that you realize you’ve got an issue, says Patterson.
An annual checkup would help to quickly identify and mitigate those issues before they become full-blown — and expensive — problems.
Prevention is worth a pound of cure
Speaking of money, scheduling annual tune ups also can helps save money down the road. “Repairing a small refrigerant leak shouldn’t cost much more than the service call,” points out HomeAdvisor. “Buying a new compressor when low refrigerant levels burn your current one out, however, can cost a thousand dollars or more.”
Another money-saving advantage to getting your HVAC system serviced regularly is that it helps your A/C until work at optimal efficiency and uses less energy to keep your house cool, keeping energy bills down.
The final upside to scheduling an annual HVAC checkup? “Those customers are at the top of my list to get to when something goes wrong.”
If you suspect mold in your HVAC system, call Stock Environmental Consulting to schedule important mold testing at (732) 383-5190. Let our experts use their over 20 years of experience to determine the severity of your home’s mold issue.