Posted on July 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM
When the sweltering heat and humidity of summer settle in, everyone depends on their cooling systems for comfortable homes and productive work environments. However, if the first time you think about your unit is to turn it on, you may be very disappointed . . . and definitely hot under the collar.
Heating and cooling systems are an investment in comfort, air quality, and cost efficiency. To ensure you get the most out of your investment, it’s critical to continuously monitor and maintain the performance of your unit—just like regularly servicing your vehicle. With your car or truck, the choice is to get the oil changed and bring it in for scheduled maintenance or do nothing and wait for a catastrophic failure. You have the same choice with your central air and ductless mini-split systems.
You know the value of a good mechanic, who tells you when things really need to get fixed and the best way to do it. The same is true with HVAC service technicians. The best heating and cooling companies send courteous, fully certified and factory-trained technicians to provide every customer with white-glove service. When you as a customer know you’re getting honest feedback and informed advice from your tech, making decisions is easy and worry free.
Look for a comprehensive service contract.
Our data for Southeastern Massachusetts goes back 80 years, and every summer, the numbers tell the same story: the amount of emergency calls skyrockets during the first heat wave. On one hand, it sounds logical since air conditioners are under stress running night and day, plus the hot weather can cause neglected units to overheat. However, we all know it gets hot in the summer. Why not prepare for it?
Scheduled diagnostic testing and preventative maintenance provides you with a smoother-running unit with a longer life expectancy that costs less money to operate. The top-rated services plans give you peace of mind throughout the year by ensuring your heating and cooling system runs at its most efficient no matter what the weather. Plus, as a member of these convenient and affordable programs, you get high-priority emergency service if you need it, as well as discounts on equipment purchases.
Pro tip: Don’t assume all service plans are the same—even when companies sell and service the same brand of units. Do a side-by-side comparison of different local HVAC service providers and see for yourself.
Customer-centric service and equipment discounts are the perks of the best heating and cooling maintenance plans, and certainly aren’t offered by every company. There are some basic tasks you should expect every technician to perform during routine maintenance checks, and below is a description of those must-have services to give you a baseline of what to expect and ask for when doing your own research.
Exterior HVAC components are typically hidden from plain sight in the corners of buildings and behind vegetation. Keeping the metal boxes from diminishing a building’s aesthetics is fine, as long as someone keeps an eye on them. Either you, your tech, or your lawn care professional needs to monitor climbing vegetation and thick bushes near the unit and keep them from choking the air intake of units. Any obstruction of airflow can cause your machine to run less efficiently and overheat.
Pro tip: Be cautious when using a weed whacker near exterior components. This common landscaping tool flings pebbles and other debris that can get inside the unit and damage it. Plus, using the tool too close to the unit can sever critical electrical wires.
Interior diagnostics and adjustments.
Only factory-trained and certified HVAC technicians should analyze and repair the interior of your unit. Here’s a basic rundown of what they should do on a routine maintenance visit:
Replace the filter. An air filter is a simple, inexpensive part that prevents pollen, grit, and other debris from getting sucked into the exterior unit and fouling up the inner workings. In the course of a few months, dirt and grime can build up on the filter and clog it. You may not notice it right away, but the inhibited airflow makes your unit work harder, and eventually you’ll notice higher electric bills, and more expensive parts of the machine will breakdown.
Inspect and analyze the machine. Factory-trained HVAC technicians will always start up the unit and observe how it runs. Then, they’ll look inside for corroded wires and connections and any other signs of failing parts. Another important task certified technicians perform is cleaning. Dirt and buildup on coils can lead to pinholes in the copper tubing caused by corrosion. Refrigerant will leak out of these holes and lower the charge of the cooling system, which results in less efficient performance and damage to the compressor.
Administer diagnostic tests. The heating and cooling techs you want maintaining your system will also perform a series of tests on all critical components. They should calibrate the thermostat, test relays and switches, assess and adjust refrigerant levels (which will be low if you already have pinholes in your coils and other leaks), and lubricate moving parts when necessary, among other things. Your tech should also test the fans in your unit, which are responsible for moving air over the condenser coil and through the ducts.
Pro tip: If your unit is blowing hot air and is hot to the touch, you may need your fan repaired.
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If your questions aren’t answered here, contact the Pierce Refrigeration team and one of our experts will guide you in finding a solution to your heating and cooling needs. Need 24-7 emergency service? Looking for advice on improving your everyday air quality and comfort at home and at work?
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