What Should be Included in HVAC Maintenance?

With proper maintenance, your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will run efficiently throughout the hot summers here in Greater Phoenix. While you may be tempted to do the tune-up yourself, it’s not wise to tinker around with HVAC equipment if you’re not a professional. A professional will know what should be included in HVAC maintenance. At Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, we know what it takes to make sure your air conditioning and heating system will keep you comfortable throughout the year.

Preventive maintenance services include a thorough checkup of the entire system. If problems are found, the technician will provide recommendations on how to repair them. If your unit is old or repairs will be expensive, the professional will explain all your options.

Benefits of HVAC Maintenance

HVAC maintenance ensures that your heating and air conditioning system operates efficiently and reliably. Most manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment require a tune-up in the spring for the air conditioner and one in the fall for the furnace to keep warranties valid.

Annual maintenance provides the following benefits:

  • Extends system service life
  • Reduces energy usage
  • Gives peace of mind
  • Reduces the need of major repairs
  • Helps to keep indoor air clean
  • Saves money on repairs and utility bills

Maintenance is the process of verifying that each component is in good working order and that the system functions synergistically as a whole. The high summer temperatures in the Phoenix area can cause parts to degrade quickly. If one component is not working properly, it can affect other components. If damaged components are not repaired quickly, you may find yourself with a huge repair bill.

Elements of a Tune-Up

Christian Brothers offers a 22-point tune-up that involves examining, cleaning and fine-tuning each component of a heating and air conditioning system. This includes the following:

  • Cleaning the drip pan and condensate lines
  • Cleaning the outdoor compressor housing
  • Calibrating the thermostat
  • Checking the wiring
  • Tightening the electrical connections
  • Checking the amperage and voltage
  • Cleaning or replacing the air filter
  • Making sure the unit cycles properly
  • Oiling the motors, fans and other moving parts
  • Checking the belts for frays or cracks
  • Checking the controls
  • Checking the ducts for leaks or bad joins
  • Checking the air pressure and system balance

During a tune-up of the air conditioner, a professional will also:

  • Check the refrigerant levels
  • Clean the coils
  • Clean the blower components

Heating-specific inspections include:

  • Checking the burners and ignitions on oil- or gas-burning units
  • Checking for carbon monoxide and other gasses
  • Inspecting the piping and heat exchanger
  • Checking the gas pressure
  • Cleaning the plenum, housing and vents on furnaces

Air Filters

Dirty air filters are the primary reason for HVAC unit failure. Filters capture airborne pollutants and keep them from entering ducts. Once particulates are inside ducts, they can be blown into the living space. Dust, grime, animal dander and other pollutants that bypass filters can coat components inside the system.

Condenser and evaporator coils must be clean for efficient heat exchange. Air flowing over clean coils allows heat to be released as part of the refrigeration process. If coils are coated with debris, the unit must work harder. This strains the compressor, which must use more energy to heat and cool. Eventually, the compressor will fail.

According to the Department of Energy, keeping air filters clean cuts energy usage by up to 15%. In contrast, poor maintenance can increase energy usage by up to 60%. With periodic maintenance, you’ll save energy and money on utility bills.

Amperage, Voltage and Wiring

During your tune-up, the technician will check the entire electrical system for any potential safety issues. Frayed or cracked wiring is a fire hazard.

Voltage is important for proper startup and operation. When a unit powers on, it requires a large amount of energy for a few seconds. Capacitors help compressors, fans and blowers start by sending them this needed boost of current. If there is a voltage problem, the technician will test the capacitors. A damaged capacitor can affect the startup of the unit. The compressor may strain to start or shut down after running for a few minutes. If the capacitor is not replaced, the compressor will eventually fail. It is much less expensive to replace a capacitor than a compressor.

Condensate System

An important function of an air conditioner is to regulate humidity. Moisture extracted from the air is sent through tubing into a drain system that routes condensation out of the building. If the drain pan becomes clogged, water can back up and overflow the pan. If you notice pooled water around the base of the inside unit of the air conditioner, the condensate system could be blocked.

If water cannot flow through the drain system, it will find another way out, such as through walls, floors or ceilings. Eventually, you may notice mildew on walls, carpets or furniture from seepage from the HVAC system overflow. Water can also back up into the air conditioner and damage it.

Cleaning tubing and the drain pan also eliminates the buildup of mold and mildew that can occur when components are constantly moist. Mold and mildew can create a bad smell or be circulated back into the system. If this happens, it will affect indoor air quality and can create health problems.

System Balance

The pressure of a system affects comfort and efficiency. When an HVAC system is installed, it is balanced so that air flows freely through ducts and into rooms. If you experience hot or cold spots in rooms or find that some rooms are more comfortable than others, the system may not be balanced correctly.

During your tune-up, a technician will check to make sure ducts are not leaking and that the dampers within ducts are set properly. This corrects airflow and pressure and improves comfort. Poorly balanced systems must work harder to maintain comfort. Energy efficiency can be reduced by as much as 15% when a system is not properly balanced.

Furnace Combustion System

Proper combustion is important for several reasons. Most importantly, it keeps you safe. Cracked pipes, damaged heat exchangers, corroded plenums and dirty burners can emit carbon monoxide gas, which can make you sick or be fatal. Poorly maintained combustion systems use more energy to operate and wear out more quickly.

Professional Expertise

Your heating and cooling system is a major investment. You want to be sure that the company working on it is qualified, experienced and reliable. At Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical in Glendale, AZ, we’re known for being dependable. When we tune up your system, we’ll bring more than 40 years of experience and training with us.

We work on all major brands and types of heating and cooling systems, including heat pumps, ductless mini-splits, package units and split units. Our technicians are certified by NATE, the industry leader in technician certification. They are factory-trained on leading-edge equipment, providing expertise in calculating load, new installations, repairs, maintenance and problem-solving.

To schedule a tune-up for your HVAC system, call Christian Brothers today. Be sure to check out our specials on preventive maintenance, repairs, new installations and equipment too.

Air conditioning, Plumbing, Electrical repair since 1976 in Phoenix, AZ.

Can a Smart Thermostat Lower your Heating Bill?

Home energy bills can drain a budget faster and more significantly than someone wishes. No one wants to pay more for energy costs, but anyone relying on a furnace in a cold-weather area realizes the winter months can bring higher bills. The summertime also presents rising costs because scorching summers can require running air conditioners all day and into the night.

Thankfully, the smart thermostat has arrived to help homeowners save some money by getting more control over how a house is heated or cooled. Smart thermostats allow for flexibility with making adjustments at specified times, which is an improvement over the traditional programmable thermostat.

What Is a Smart Thermostat?

Smart thermostats reflect innovations found in home automation and the ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT) concept. Basically, a smart thermostat affords users the ability to pre-program temperature settings and make real-time changes at preferred intervals through smartphone applications. Overall, these systems provide a means of maximizing control over the heating and cooling system’s temperature.

Saving Money: New vs. Old Thermostats

A smart thermostat delivers a significant improvement over a traditional one. Older thermostats require you to set them at a specific temperature — any changes require performing a manual action at home. So, if you set the temperature at 74 degrees, that is where the number will stay until someone turns the dial or presses buttons to change it. While this process is okay, it’s far from perfect. Technology-driven improvements were long overdue.

There can be problems when you lack control over your thermostat settings. Being away from the manual thermostat means you can’t access it to make any changes. So, to keep from coming home to a frigid interior, you can set your thermostat to 70 degrees before heading home from work. This way, the house will be warm when you return. The money-wasting issue here is the thermostat will heat the house while it’s unoccupied. To bring the interior temperature up from 60 degrees to 70 degrees may only take 90 minutes. So, why not program the thermostat to increase to 70 degrees an hour and a half before you come home? Without a smart thermostat, you won’t be able to exercise such an option.

An Unexpected Situation

A smart thermostat also comes in handy when the temperature changes at unexpected times. Maybe you need to raise or lower the temperature without delay. Imagine if you’re away from home for a few days and learn the temperature will drop unexpectedly. The drop intends to go below freezing levels. Did you already set the temperature at a reasonable 60 degrees before you left? The temperature should be enough to keep pipes from freezing, but concerns may linger in your mind. Maybe you want to be extra sure nothing goes wrong, so you remotely raise the temperature, via the smartphone app, to 70 degrees. Once the cold spell passes, you can lower it to a reasonable temperature level again.

Since you’re strategically raising and lowering the temperature, you maintain some control over the energy bills. If you had to ask someone to go over to your house to change the temperature, then it might remain ultra-high longer than necessary. Plus, now you have an unnecessarily high heating bill. Again, more control means a better ability to maintain desired temperature levels.

Running a heating and cooling system too high all the time could wear it down. Further use may create excess wear and tear. Find out the condition of your unit by calling Christian Brothers and asking us to perform an inspection. Based out of Glendale, Christian Brothers serves many cities in Arizona and handles repairs, installations, tune-ups, and more.

What the Government Says

The government likes to perform studies, and those studies might deliver some appreciated information. With so much concern over energy efficiency, it’s no surprise that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, per the website Lifehacker, revealed that houses using smart thermostats could save about $180 per year on their energy bills.

The $180 represents an average savings of 10% to 15% per year, which does add up over time. So, don’t dismiss any amount of money saved as insignificant. There’s nothing insignificant about cutting expenditures in the home or keeping energy from being wasted.

Buy the Best Smart Thermostat

As is the case with any product, not every smart thermostat is the same. Quality may vary from company to company. A homeowner’s specific requirements factor into the value a smart thermostat delivers. Choosing the right one for your Glendale, AZ, residence increases the potential that it can do its job and save you money.

Performing consumer research before buying a particular smart thermostat might be wise. Read reviews and consumer commentary. This way, you can narrow down your choices to the best ones before making any selections. And, be sure to do your part once you buy the smart thermostat.

Put the Smart Thermostat to Use

Purchasing a smart thermostat is the first step in taking control of energy expenditures. Installing a smart thermostat on the wall and downloading the necessary smartphone app all move you in the right direction toward getting costs under control. Of course, you have to put the thermostat to use to maximize its benefits, or, for that matter, get any benefits at all.

As the saying goes, people are creatures of habit. They get used to doing things a certain way, and then they stay on the same course they’re familiar with. Lots of people buy tech gadgets and never use them. If you’ve been starting your car’s engine up by turning the key in the ignition for 40 years, switching over to a remote starter might be a little confusing. The same is true with using a smart thermostat.

Interestingly, some thermostats come with motion detectors that work with programmable commands to raise or lower temperature when they detect someone in the house. Maybe such systems could help the absent-minded homeowner.

Get a jump on using the smart thermostat. Make the necessary changes right away. Learn how to use the thermostat and the app as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you may never get into the habit of how to get the best use out of it.

Addressing Home Energy Inefficiency

A smart thermostat can do a lot of good for a homeowner interested in cutting costs. However, a smart thermostat can’t overcome deficiencies with home energy efficiency. That is, a house with poor insulation always comes with the potential of wasting money. The furnace will consistently work harder to overcompensate for the weak insulation. A smart thermostat can help the situation, but underlying issues will continue to contribute to waste. Addressing those problems must become a priority to maximize cost savings. Perhaps the time is long overdue for a home energy audit.

Do you want a smart thermostat installed, or do you need other heating or air conditioning work performed? Since 1976, Christian Brothers has assisted customers with all kinds of different requests. Call our Glendale office today to discuss your home’s specific needs. Ask us about our heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing work.

Air conditioning, Plumbing, Electrical repair since 1976 in Phoenix, AZ.