All HVAC systems have a lifespan. That lifespan can be greatly reduced by poor maintenance and by a few bad habits. Those bad habits lead to the need for expensive repairs and reduce the lifespan of the HVAC system. Also, they lead to homeowners throwing money out money on their electric bills because an inefficient HVAC system will use more electricity in order to maintain the desired temperature.
We previously wrote a blog post, How To Keep Your Air Conditioner Unit Running Cool Year-Round, in which we gave you 5 tips to keep your HVAC system running strong. Our top tip was to change your air filters regularly, and in Florida, that frequency should be once per month. Changing your air filter is the equivalent of flossing your teeth regularly; Everyone says they do it, but few actually do. While not changing air filters often enough is a bad habit we often see, there are two other things we see people do often that harm their home heating and cooling system.
2 Bad Habits Harming Your HVAC System And Costing You Money
It is hard to over-emphasize just how prevalent it is for people to waste money by improperly caring for their home heating and cooling units. We mentioned that not changing air filters is one of the main culprits. It is also estimated that having your HVAC system checked by a professional once a year can save you an average of $500 per year. In Florida, that savings can be even higher.
With the average savings from regularly maintaining your HVAC system being $500 per year, it’s clear that you must have a professional check your system each year. And, with not changing air filters is one of the biggest causes of premature HVAC system failure, you’ll want to be sure to change your air filters each month. But, what else can you do to keep your system running cool year-round? There are two simple things that if you keep in mind, you can save money and keep your HVAC unit running cool for years to come.
Don’t Obstruct Your HVAC Condenser
The condenser, or AC condenser as it is often called, is the outdoor part of an air conditioner unit or heat pump. It releases or collects heat, depending on the time of the year. The condenser fan is a key component of an HVAC system and it circulates the air across the coil to facilitate heat transfer. The heart of the HVAC system is the condenser because it compresses the refrigerant and pumps it to a coil as a gas.
Often, people will block the condenser with a fence or bushes. Blocking the condenser blocks the airflow. And, when you block the airflow, you make it difficult for the condenser to cool the refrigerant. It is important to make sure that there is several feet between any fence and the condenser, as well as several feet between it and any bushes or permanent structure.
Also, it is vital that you keep the condenser free of any debris. The debris can cause a clog, which leads to a higher temperature and an inefficient cooling system. A common cause of debris getting into the HVAC system is people not being careful when cutting grass. It is important to maintain the grass and area around your HVAC system, but you want to make sure to not allow grass or any gravel to blow into your unit. When you’re working around your HVAC system, slow down, and be aware and focus on not allowing debris into the condenser.
Don’t Obstruct Return Vents
Return vents take in air, or more descriptively said, they suck in air back to the heating and cooling system. Too often, people block these vents with furniture. Blocking the return vents causes your system to have to work much harder. This causes major inefficiencies, restricts airflow, and causes freeze-overs.
When planning the layout of furniture in a room, you need to be aware of where the return vents are. You do not want to place furniture in a place in which they are blocking air from the vent. This might mean that a dresser, bed or desk can’t go where you want it to, but its important to keep the vents free from obstruction.
In addition to not blocking vents, you also want to avoid closing any vents. This is especially true in Florida. It might seem to make sense to close a vent in a room you don’t use and keep that door closed. However, closing vents can put a strain on your system. Furthermore, you want to keep most interior doors open as much as possible to allow for maximum airflow throughout your home.
The bottom line is, keep things away from your condenser and vents. Unobstructed airflow is vital to a healthy heating and cooling system. While having your system checked regularly by an experienced HVAC professional will lead to your system lasting 40% longer, you don’t need to be an expert to help keep your system running cool. Change your air filters, keep your condenser unobstructed, and make sure your air vents are clear of anything that might limit airflow. If you do those three simple things, you’ll save money on your electric bill and increase the odds of your HVAC system lasting its full lifespan.