If you've been outside this month, then you know it is HOT in the District. With record-breaking heat and rising air-quality concerns, you may want to consider moving some plans indoors. To ensure DC residents are prepped for the summer, we reached out to Silas Naecker, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) expert and President of The John G. Webster Company. He shared some of the most common maintenance problems and ways to address them.
Most Common Maintenance Problems
"Lack of maintenance is one of the most common problems when an Air Conditioner breaks down," says Naecker. Leaking water from clogged drains and frozen systems from dirty filters or coils can cause major issues. More common problems include bad capacitors and/or low refrigerant. These are not caused by lack of maintenance, but can be found during routine maintenance to prevent untimely failure.
Here are some ways you can stay on top of your HVAC maintenance:
Switch Out Your Air Filter
When's the last time you switched out your air filter? Naecker recommends changing your filter monthly to ensure the quality of air in your home. Neglecting to switch out air filters results in the system working harder and less efficiently. Not to mention, it's pollen season in DC and the last thing we want are more allergens inside our homes.
Consider Getting a Smart Thermostat
With unpredictable schedules, remote work, and summer vacations, a smart thermostat will give you the power to adjust your temperature right from an app on your phone. Making the upgrade can also help you save on monthly energy bills.
Remove Debris Around Your Outdoor HVAC Unit
To remove debris, first turn off the power on your HVAC system and grab a hose on a low pressure setting to wash off dirt, leaves, and other debris from the system. You'll be surprised how much this can impact your system's performance.
Choose Energy-Efficient Replacements
When switching out your old products, always consider higher efficiency options. "Not only is it better for the environment and saves on utility costs, most higher efficiency systems improve comfort as well," says Naecker. More efficient systems might also be eligible for rebates from the DCSEU.
When your central AC systems needs to be replaced, Naecker says it can be a wise decision to convert to a Heat Pump in certain circumstances. He recommends that homeowners discuss it with their HVAC contractor to be advised on if it is feasible or not for their home.
When to Call in a Pro
If your system stops working or seems to not perform as well as it normally does, shut the system off to prevent any further damage. Here are some other items you will want to call a pro to handle:
- Check the thermostat operation to make sure it's functioning properly
- Check the electrical connections within the systems to ensure they are tight and clean
- Check the electrical voltage and amperages for proper readings
- Check the capacitators for leaks or improper readings (one of the most common failures in AC systems)
- Check and clean out the condensate drain, pumps, and piping
- Check refrigerant levels
- Clean all coils and heat exchanging surfaces
- Clean out the leaves and debris from inside the outdoor unit
- Check the blower clean if necessary
- Check, adjust and/or replace any belts
As always, we will continue to provide energy- and money-saving tips and advice for District residents to navigate the District's changing seasons. Stay safe and stay hydrated!
Note: The DCSEU does not endorse individual products, vendors, or manufacturers.