Spring is here, and with it comes an annual spring cleaning list. Driving through my neighborhood in Myrtle Beach, one can see bags of mulch strategically piled around lawns. In addition to landscape sprucing, garage cleaning, and pressure washing, springtime is also a great time to take stock of your HVAC system and give it a good inspection. High temperatures can come early in South Carolina, and you don't want to be learning of an air conditioning issue at the last minute.
The only way to find out if your unit is working properly is to run it. Adjust your thermostat and wait for the system to cool your home. While you wait, try to observe the effectiveness of your heating or air conditioning with all your senses. Do you feel air blowing steadily from returns? Is it sufficiently warm or cool? Do you hear any unfamiliar clunking or rattling noises? Is there visible debris around the outside unit or built up around the ducts? The signs that your HVAC needs a tune up and inspection are varied and can mean different things.
Below is a list of the most common signs that maintenance and/or repair are needed:
Water or Ice Build Up: If you notice ice build up around the coils on your air conditioner, it is likely caused by insufficient airflow. Maintenance for this problem could involve anything from replacing restrictive filters with less restrictive ones, to clearing ducts of blockage or cleaning a dirty coil.
Ice buildup could also be the result of low refrigerant and the sign of a leak somewhere. The ice is a product of air passing over your evaporator coil. Condensation forms and removes the moisture from the air that will return into your home. When working properly, water will collect in your HVAC unit's drain pan. If you are low on refrigerant in the coils, ice will form instead. Finding and sealing the leak and refilling the refrigerant will often solve the buildup problem.
Unit Constantly Running or Not Cooling/Heating Sufficiently: This is a tell-tale sign that you need repair, but what's wrong may need some troubleshooting. A constantly running unit could be a thermostat or wiring problem, but it could also be the cause of duct leakage, which would strain your unit as it tries to cool or warm a space while the conditioned air is escaping.
Unusual Noises or Rattling: It could be as small as a loose cover screw or an unleveled pad, or as big as a motor issue. Listening for unusual sounds and calling a professional is the best way to address the situation before it turns into something bigger. It's best not to wait for small issues to compound into larger ones. It's often more affordable in the long term, too.
As we've previously mentioned, a clean and service contract is the best and most affordable solution for extending the life of your HVAC system. As you clean up the rest of your home and lawn this spring, don't forget about your valuable HVAC system.