HVAC equipment needs regular maintenance to work at peak efficiency and provide reliable service through the rest of the season. During autumn in Centreville, VA and all of Northern Virginia, your HVAC maintenance is two-fold: you need to turn off and clean up the air conditioner. Then you need to turn on and maintain the furnace for its upcoming season.
There are many tasks involved in each, some of which you can do by yourself and others which you will probably need a professional for (we can help at Service Specialties, Inc.) Even if you don’t want to do any of it yourself, it’s still a good idea to know what the professionals should be doing to keep your HVAC system running well. Here’s a checklist to guide you through what should be done for fall HVAC maintenance.
Fall Maintenance for Your Air Conditioner
First, you should start with handling the shut-down maintenance for your air conditioner. Once it’s time for the machine to be turned off for the year because it’s too cold, you should complete a handful of steps. The first one is the most complicated. You need to clean the air conditioner and its compressor.
Here is how to clean the outdoor unit of the air conditioner:
- Turn off the power to the unit.
- Use a brush to remove any visible debris, such as leaves, near the unit.
- Use a screwdriver to open the cage or paneling on the unit.
- Use a shop vacuum to pull debris out of the unit. Be very careful not to damage any of the internal components.
- Use a damp cloth to remove dust on any of the internal parts that can handle this. You can do the same with the fan fins or you can use your garden hose on a very low setting to remove the dust.
- If any fan blades are bent out of shape you can try to bend them back into place.
There are a few other things that you should do to keep your air conditioner in good condition until it needs to be turned back on in the spring, including:
- Change the air conditioner filter.
- Trim the landscaping around the unit. There should be at least three feet of clearance on every side of the outdoor unit in order to give it ample ventilation. The grass next to it should be short.
- Cover the unit with its fabric cover. If your unit is old, it may not have come with one, or you may have lost it. You may be able to buy a replacement.
Fall Maintenance for Your Furnace
Maintaining your furnace in the fall is very important. You will lower the odds of a breakdown through the winter if you get the unit professionally maintained before you turn it on, every year. This is what should be involved in your fall furnace maintenance:
- Check the pressure of the system.
- Inspect the heat exchanges.
- Test blower components.
- Check all electrical components.
- Clean the system.
- Lubricate all moving parts.
- Replace the filter.
Schedule Your Next Maintenance Appointment
Now that your fall maintenance appointment is complete, you should schedule your next one. You may need one in the spring for your air conditioner, or you may have only one yearly appointment where your HVAC professional takes care of all of your HVAC units. Whatever your cycle, it’s wise to book well ahead of time so that you don’t forget. You will also get your choice of time and day which can be valuable for those with a busy schedule.
Bonus Items: Air Duct Cleanings, Thermostat
What else should you take care of during the fall? Ideally, you also take a peek at your thermostat settings and make sure that they are right for the upcoming season. If you like, you can typically get an HVAC professional to reprogram the thermostat for you, or even walk you through some of its finer points. This is an especially good idea if you have a smart thermostat that has interesting settings you can take advantage of.
Also, consider if you need an air duct cleaning. You don’t need one quite every year, but if it has been more than two, it’s a good idea to get it done to improve heating and cooling efficiency.
There is a lot involved with fall HVAC maintenance. If you don’t want to do it yourself, the professionals at Service Specialties, Inc. can help. Contact us today to schedule your maintenance appointment or discuss any unusual needs your HVAC system might have.