Spring HVAC Prep

The weather is finally warming up. For the first time in months I left the office and didn’t have to worry about getting frostbite on my spleen. We hit 74 degrees last Friday here in Philly, I took a bike ride and came back looking like a drowned rat, but it was warm. It’s only 36 Fahrenheit today, but Spring is on the way. The coming warmth means we should start talking about your maintenance schedules.

Do Your Chores

It’s vital to inspect, clean, and maintain your HVAC equipment. It’s going to cost you if you don’t. You should inspect your entire HVAC System at least twice a year: once before spring, and again before fall/winter. These little maintenance checks will keep you, your employees, your customers, and any other guests comfortable year round.

As the weather warms up, you will begin to dial back your reliance on your building’s heating system. This is an ideal time to find a warm day, shut it down, and have your contractor do some cleaning and inspections. Most burners will leave some measure of dirt/soot in the combustion chamber for you to clean up. Leaving this there will reduce your system’s efficiency and may eventually clog up the heat exchanger altogether.

From a maintenance perspective, this is an ideal time to check that the ignition system is in good shape and doesn’t require any adjustment or replacement. Things like the spark rod in an oil burner and the hot surface igniter in gas furnaces will eventually need adjustment or wear out entirely. Replacing these components is relatively trivial, but it is better to work on them when you don’t need them, than see your office intern lighting themselves on fire next winter to fight off the chill.

At this point in time, your air conditioner is probably sitting idle, twiddling it’s metaphorical thumbs. This happens to be the ideal time to have your coils cleaned, ensure that the system is still holding good refrigerant pressure, replace fan belts, and remove debris from the , and make sure no rats or mice have developed an appetite for the copper wiring over the long winter. Lead Salesman Scott once found a small reptile who’d met Zeus in his air conditioner. We’re somewhat surprised that didn’t pop a breaker or burn something down. It was a shocking experience for all involved.

Luckily, aside from general cleaning and consumables, there is not a lot that goes bad on an air conditioner. Air conditioning systems are largely fully contained systems. The only things really exposed to the elements are the fans and drive belts. The compressor motor is self-contained and drowned in oil in most systems. Everything else is basically just pipes. That said, if the system doesn’t hold refrigerant pressure, something’s leaking and probably needs to be replaced. The chief culprit is probably one of the coils, which are the most fragile part of the system (and they will probably go bad after a hard 10-15 year life).

User Replaceable Parts

In large-part, the only part of your HVAC system you should touch is the thermostat and in the event of an emergency, the emergency shut off switch. Everything else should be left to your contractors and other skilled workers who are trained, insured, and licensed. There are however, a few areas the average person or employee can safely get to work.

These safe areas are all the filters and air vents. Over a long winter, dirt, dust, hair, mold, and bacteria can accumulate in any nasty, old filters still left in the air conditioning part of your system. It’s time to throw those filters away, scrub down the air vents as needed, and make sure no one’s blocked an air vent over the course of the winter.

Enjoy a Comfortable Cooling Season

Once all your preventative care is out of the way, you can relax. Crank up the AC when the weather starts warming up. You’ve had it looked over, everything’s been cleaned, broken things replaced, and you know that system will run in peak shape all season long.

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