Just as with any vehicle, system, piece of equipment or even our own bodies, maintenance is essential. Through preventing a problem or addressing an emerging issue, regular HVAC servicing is an opportunity to deliver large value to homeowners on an ongoing basis. It’s important that homeowners and property managers know that spring maintenance for HVAC systems including air conditioning spring cleanings are so important to the health of the system. Awareness of these benefits results in cooler days for everyone involved.
Why perform preventive maintenance on your AC system every spring?
These are all some pretty solid reasons to prioritize spring AC maintenance and cleaning as part of your servicing offerings and to educate clients:
- Preventing the majority of repairs: The vast majority of repairs to HVAC systems could have been headed off with the proper regular maintenance. Tune-ups to HVAC systems will identify problems or components that are about to fail and will reduce the stress on the rest of the system, preventing malfunctions.
- Preventing breakdowns: Nobody likes sweating in a house where the HVAC has failed on one of the hottest days of the year. Anyone with any experience in the industry knows that if the system is going to break down, it’s likely to do it when it’s under the maximum amount of stress. Proper spring air conditioner maintenance will help avoid an emergency service call and save the homeowner larger unexpected expenses.
- Better system efficiency: A system that does not have to work as hard will run more efficiently. Proper maintenance will help prevent the system from getting more expensive to operate with each passing year, which will keep the efficiency rating closer to what the system came with from the factory.
- Extend service life: A higher quality HVAC system has a service life of 10 to 15 years, but only if it’s received the proper care, which should include spring maintenance. In fact, a poorly-cared-for system might only last for half the target service life, and no client wants to replace the whole system prematurely.
- Keep warranty coverage: Just like an automotive warranty will be voided if you don’t change the car’s oil, an HVAC warranty won’t cover problems that arise from a lack of or poor maintenance.
How to clean an air conditioning system
In a normal year’s operation, an HVAC system can get amazingly dirty and gunky unknowingly to your clients. A thorough cleaning of an HVAC system is a vital part of every spring maintenance checklist — and knowing the right way to do it is essential.
- Shut off any power to the entire system before starting on anything. Look for a shut-off box near the outdoor unit, or de-energize the system at the main breaker box inside the home.
- Remove the fan cage and use a shop vac to get rid of any dead leaves, bugs or any other dirt and debris that might have accumulated inside.
- Using a gentle setting on a garden hose sprayer, start removing the dirt and fuzz from the unit’s fins. IMPORTANT: the fins and coils on any HVAC system are really delicate. Never use a pressure washer for this job, as it can distort the fins beyond repair.
- If fins have a serious buildup of fuzz or material, use the commercially-available aerosol solutions for this job. Read and follow instructions on the can; these products can dissolve and soften accumulated gunk and make it a lot easier to remove.
- Bent fins can compromise airflow through the unit and cause a loss of efficiency. Take a close look at the fins and straighten any bent ones with a commercial fin straightening tool. Be especially gentle with the coils embedded in the fins to make sure that they aren’t damaged.
- Clean the area for a couple of feet around the unit, removing any remaining dirt or debris. Eliminate any vegetation that might make its way into the unit, including branches of nearby trees or shrubs that could drop leaves. Remind the homeowner that it’s a good idea in the off-season to cover the unit’s top with a sheet of plastic or plywood, although covering the entire unit can encourage corrosion.
- Using a carpenter’s level, check the unit to see if it and its pad have settled over the last year. If so, level it up again using rot-resistant shims. Be mindful that it’s okay for a heat pump unit to be slightly tilted to allow runoff of defrost. Remind the homeowner that an out-of-level unit can cause refrigerant oil to separate, interrupting the flow of refrigerant, and can also put undue stress on the unit’s lines and electrical connections.
- Inside the house, clean the evaporator coil using a commercially-available no-rinse aerosol coil cleaner that will foam up, dissolve gunk and drain into the drain pan. It’s okay to carefully remove the worst of the debris with a soft brush before applying the cleaner. Clean the dissolved fuzz from the drain pan, then pour a 50/50 bleach/water solution down the drain. You can use a drain pan tablet to prevent algae buildup in the future, then seal the unit again carefully using foil furnace tape around the access door.
- If the drain is draining slowly, you’ll need to clean it using a shop vac to suck out any biological matter that might have built up. It’d be a good idea to remove the shop vac’s filter so as not to ruin it in the process.
- Change the blower filter, being sure to replace it with one that has the same airflow rating as the manufacturer’s recommendations. “Air purifying” or HEPA filters can impede airflow, cause the system to lose efficiency and even cause the indoor coils to freeze up. Be mindful of the arrow on the filter that indicates the proper airflow direction.
- Turn the power back on and run the unit for 15 minutes, checking temperature from a register.
Clean & check extras
Now that we’ve covered most of the simpler jobs that go along with spring HVAC maintenance, here are a few others that should be performed:
- Check airflow through the system and at the home’s registers.
- Inspect, clean and tighten any electrical connectors at the blower, the thermostat and elsewhere.
- Test the thermostat for proper operation, and recommend an upgrade if necessary.
- Check the system and ductwork for leaks and repair if needed.
- Check the refrigerant levels, be on the lookout for leaks and repair/top off the system if needed.
- Service blower motor and belts if needed.
- Turn off the water supply to the humidifier unit, if so equipped
Providing reminders of the benefits of these services will help keep a steady stream of service revenue early in the year. But most importantly, the value provided will help establish lifelong relationships with happy and cool customers.
If you have any questions or would like to consult with our team, we’re here for you. We strive to go above and beyond to service our customers. We dedicate ourselves to fostering close, ongoing relationships in order to help customers grow their business. While offering only the highest-quality HVAC equipment and parts, we can provide you with the advice and expertise you need. Contact Us!
NuComfort LLC is a wholesale distributor of both commercial and residential HVAC systems. We also stock a full line of accessories and replacement parts. We have a long history of satisfied customers, and are ready to serve you from our three Chicagoland locations in Glendale Heights, Chicago and Crestwood.