As a homeowner, your regular maintenance checks around the house should always include the proper functioning of your central air systems. Whether it’s your air conditioning unit or heating system, both machines are built for high-volume use, but still, require necessary care and handling. In fact, knowing the tell-tale signs of problems with your air system not only lowers your monthly energy bill, but also adds years of longevity to your home’s units without costly repairs or a new system. Here, we will look at just a few common heating and cooling issues that every homeowner should know, as well as some basic solutions that could save you a bundle on energy costs.
New Filters and Ductwork
In caring for both your HVAC and heater, it’s pretty easy to notice when new air isn’t pumping to full capacity. If your family has to keep tinkering with the cooling system against the summer heat and humidity, yet the AC system doesn’t seem to be keeping your home cool, it could be an indicator that the HVAC needs a check-up. While it can be expected that sometimes systems suffer the occasional issue that needs repairs, diligent monitoring of your vents, ducts, and filters can help run a more efficient system. Try and do this often, or at least three times a year.
While sometimes there are genuine signs it’s time to replace your central air system, before you panic and worry about repair costs, start with a basic look at your home’s vents and filters. Ideally, you should be changing those out every few months, as dirt, dust, pet hair, pollen, and other debris can all lead to clogged filters. This will slow down the airflow considerably and, potentially, can lead to a worse blockage over time. By using the air conditioner to the max while only getting a fraction of the airflow, you could waste a tremendous amount of money on your energy bill. In addition, the wear and tear can cause frequent breakdowns and decrease the unit’s overall lifespan.
Likewise, checking your heating system’s ductwork before the winter could be a crucial way of determining that system’s efficiency. The air ducts are responsible for distributing heat from the furnace or natural gas heater throughout your home. If a leak has spring anywhere within that network of ducts and piping, you’ll end up paying for unused heat on your monthly utility bill.
Thermostat and Pilot Light Issues
Aside from the noticeable decrease in your HVAC unit’s efficiency, another common sign of needed maintenance is a broken or faulty thermostat. Your family will most likely notice this issue even before any other tell-tale signs. With an older system, you may find yourself running to the thermostat numerous times, readjusting the dial to your preferred temperature. The thermostat could be sending the wrong signal to your furnace or HVAC, which could actually be a less-serious and inexpensive problem to solve. You may simply have to swap out the battery or reset the small unit. Neither of these solutions would require the help of a technician.
If you have a more modernized “smart thermostat,” which adjusts itself to your usual preferences, or you have installed a heat pump air system, this may not be the issue. However, before you worry about saving up for extensive repairs or swapping out your old system, try fresh batteries in the thermostat itself.
Finally, homeowners should remember that traditional heating systems come with two basic forms of ignition: either an intermittent pilot light or a hot surface ignition setup. Although serious damage can take place over long periods of time, simply reigniting the pilot light on your own should solve any simpler issues. However, when in doubt (and for overall system longevity), it always pays to schedule regular maintenance annually for both your air conditioner and heating system.