19 Sep 5 Common HVAC Errors
We hardly notice our heating and air conditioning systems, until they stop working. Every day we do things that put unnecessary strain on our HVAC units, reducing their lifespan and increasing our energy bills. We have compiled a list of five common, unnecessary stresses homeowners put on their HVAC systems and how you can avoid them.
1) Landscaping Restricting Airflow
Our HVAC units are eyesores in our yards. It is tempting for homeowners to want to hide their outdoor units; however, appropriate air flow is vital for maximizing the efficiency and reducing the stress of your HVAC system. One of the biggest air flow hindrance offenders is obstructions around your outdoor unit. We find outdoor airflow obstructions in many forms:
- Grass clippings. Even though grass blades are small, they can accumulate quickly (especially when they are wet) and significantly reduce airflow to your unit. Whenever your grass is cut, make sure you clean or blow off all grass clippings from your HVAC unit.
- Shrubbery and Trees. Though shrubs, trees, and other large plants seem like a natural way to hide your unit, if planted too close to your HVAC they will restrict air flow and cause your unit to work harder. Leave at least two feet of horizontal space and five feet of vertical space between greenery and your unit.
- Fencing. Ornate fencing can be a nice way to disguise your HVAC system; however, make sure you leave at least three feet of horizontal space. The best kind of fencing is that which air can still flow through freely.
- Garden Hoses and Other Objects. Never stack anything on or near your outdoor unit.
2) Choosing and Changing Air Filters
We often respond to service calls about units that became completely frozen because of old, unchanged filters. We cannot stress enough how important it is to regularly change your filters. One inch filters work well as long as you are diligent to change them every month. More expensive pleated air filters are great at reducing dust, pollen, and other allergens in your home; however, because they are more expensive, a lot of people believe they last longer. Since they collect more debris than traditional filters, they need to be changed monthly as well.
For our Maintenance Plan customers, we use three to five inch filters. Filters that size can last as long as six months to a year; however, you should check them every few months, especially if you have pets.
3) Significantly Raising and Lowering Thermostat
In the summer, it is tempting to crank your thermostat significantly higher when you’re traveling or away at work. Why not? You don’t need your home to stay cool while you’re at the office or the beach. Your HVAC system is designed to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home at all times. If you significantly raise or lower your thermostat when you leave, your unit has to work extra hard upon your return, which increases stress on the system and reduces its lifespan.
We recommend raising or lowering the temperature by no more than five degrees from the normal setting when you leave for extended periods of time. As we approach fall, you may want to open windows at night for fresh air. Be careful to close your windows when you leave the house; otherwise, when it gets warm during the day, your unit will have to work much harder to maintain a comfortable temperature.
4) Extra Hot Around the Thermostat
Excess heat around your thermostat can cause your unit to misread your home’s temperature, which leads to frequent starts and stops and excess wear and tear. Common thermostat placement issues include:
- Direct Sunlight: If your thermostat is in direct sunlight during a significant portion of the day, it can misread your home’s temperature and cause your HVAC unit to turn on and off frequently. Close blinds and drapes over windows in which the sun directly shines on your thermostat.
- Television and Lamps: If your thermostat is close to the television or lamps, it will read your home’s temperature as warmer than it actually is. You might find that other areas of the home are much cooler than you would expect. Rearrange your living room to free up the area around the thermostat.
- Vent Placement: If your thermostat is close to a vent, it will likely cause your air conditioning system to kick off before the home is the proper temperature. If this is the case, you may need to call a professional to move your thermostat.
5) Closing and Blocking Vents Accidentally
We arrange and decorate our homes based on aesthetic and ergonomic appeal; however, we often forget about the importance of airflow. Blocking vents with beds, couches, and dressers restricts airflow and causes your air conditioning system to work harder to keep your home cool. If you find that one room is significantly warmer or cooler than other rooms, it is worth your time to investigate and make sure your wall and floor vents are unobstructed.
One HVAC myth we face frequently is the false idea that closing vents in seldom used rooms reduces energy usage. It is quite the contrary. Closing vents reduces airflow and actually increases your energy consumption, while shortening the life of your unit. We cannot stress enough how important proper air flow is to the life of your unit and your home’s energy efficiency.
Homeowners can help keep your unit running smoothly. We also recommend our Maintenance Agreements, which lets us keep up with tune ups and repairs for you, and puts participants in the front of the line during busy seasons.