Winter Tips to Prepare Your HVAC System
One of the best ways to prepare for winter in the Portland, Ore., metro area is to get heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems ready before cold weather arrives. Seasonal maintenance examines all elements of an HVAC system so that it functions properly and efficiently. A winterizing tune-up for the furnace in the fall and a spring tune-up for the air conditioner ensures that the unit is ready to perform when it is really needed.
Some air conditioning and furnace maintenance is best left to professionals, but there are several components of a forced air system that a homeowner can easily maintain. The simplest and most effective do-it-yourself maintenance is to clean or replace filters regularly. Dirty filters are the primary reasoning that heating and air conditioning systems stop working. Air must flow freely across coils and through ducts. As dust and grime build up, efficiency declines, making the compressor work harder to deliver conditioned air. Eventually the unit stops working.
Homeowners can also clean registers, grilles and visible joints to the duct system. Make sure that registers are not obstructed by furniture, drapes or other items so that air can flow freely through the living space.
Other maintenance should be done by professionals trained to handle fragile parts and evaluate the condition of a system. Many manufacturers require annual maintenance to keep warranties on equipment valid. A licensed heating and air conditioning company will thoroughly examine the entire HVAC system as part of a winterizing tune-up:
- Cycle the A/C or heat pump
- Limited clean & adjust blower motor
- Inspect blower wheel
- Test safety and limits
- Tighten electrical connections
- Lubricate moving parts
- Clean equipment cabinet
- Check indoor coils for proper drainage
- Check thermostat operation
- Inspect condenser coil and clean
- Clean drain pan and cabinet
- Monitor refrigerant pressures
- Check start/run amp draw
- Check defrost initiate/terminate
- Inspect contactor and relays
- Test amp draw on fan motors
- Clean fan blades
- Change fuses
- Test indoor/outdoor ambient temps
A well-maintained system can save up to 15 percent on energy bills, reduce the occurrence of breakdowns and extend the life of the system.
Most companies offer annual air conditioning and furnace maintenance agreements that include seasonal tune-ups and discounts on repairs, labor and parts. Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning provides a number of services with an annual maintenance program including priority service, two maintenance checkups each year, automatic reminders that a tune-up is due and convenient scheduling. Four Seasons technicians are factory trained to work on all makes and models of furnaces, air conditioners, indoor air quality equipment and the most up-to-date system components.