Whether you plan on replacing or upgrading an old system, it’s important to follow a checklist. This will ensure that you’re getting the best performance and efficiency out of your new HVAC upgrade.
First, it’s important to check your air filters. This can help you avoid clogged equipment and excessive energy expenses.
1. Check the Thermostat
One of the most important parts of an HVAC system is the thermostat. It controls the air conditioning unit, and the heating unit, to make sure that they operate at their best performance. As technology advances and new models emerge, thermostats get better at reading the temperature in the home and adjusting their settings accordingly.
Thermostats also have a number of benefits, including energy cost savings and convenience. For instance, if you program the temperature to be cooler when you are asleep, it will save you money on your energy bill.
A programmable thermostat can help save you even more on your energy bills by allowing you to set specific temperatures and times when the system will turn off. For example, you might want to lower the temperature in the house a few degrees before you leave for work or when you are gone from home for more than four hours.
If your current thermostat is not programmable, consider getting a new one. It will make your life much easier and save you money on energy bills!
When you replace the thermostat, be sure to check the wiring. Low-voltage thermostats for a central air system are easy to work on, and you should not get a shock if you follow the standard electrical safety rules.
To do this, remove the old thermostat and its mounting plate. Then, pull out the wire box, and separate the wires to identify which ones are connected to each other. Typically, the first initial of each wire’s color will indicate which connector it is to be connected to.
Call an HVAC contractor for assistance if you notice any issues with the wiring, such as a short or incorrect connection. They will be able to test the voltage and confirm that it is safe to use a replacement thermostat.
2. Check the Condenser
The condenser is an essential part of an air conditioning system. It houses a variety of important parts, including the compressor and the coils that cool the refrigerant and turns it into liquid.
The indoor portion of an AC system–the air handler–also relies on the condenser to circulate the refrigerant through the system and disperse heat. The outdoor unit resides outdoors, where it uses a fan to blow the hot air out and cool it back down.
It’s important to make sure that the outside unit isn’t covered in grass clippings, leaves, or other debris because it can impede airflow and cause a blockage. This can also make it difficult for the AC compressor to run efficiently.
If your condenser isn’t working, it can affect the performance of your entire air conditioning system. This can lead to lower efficiency and higher energy bills.
Replacing your condenser is a big job that requires specialized tools and knowledge. You’ll want to hire a qualified HVAC technician for this task.
Another option is to buy a new condenser compatible with your system. However, this may be too expensive for older systems.
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to fix a faulty condenser is to replace a single component, such as the contactor or start/run capacitor. These parts typically cost around $150 each.
Replacing the condenser may be necessary if you have an air conditioning unit over 10 years old or if the cost of repairing or replacing a single component multiplied by its age is more than $5,000. Buying a new air conditioner can save you money on your energy bill because modern systems are more efficient than their predecessors.
3. Check the Evaporator
Your evaporator coil is one of the most important parts of your air conditioning system, but it can also be tricky to tell when it’s time for a replacement. Like the condenser coil on the outdoor unit, the evaporator coil works by transferring heat from inside your home to the outdoors.
Your evaporator is a metal tube that fills with refrigerant and cooling fins. Cold refrigerant absorbs the warmth in the air it passes over and cools it so that it’s dry, cold, and ready for your blower fan to distribute through your ductwork.
The evaporator is located within your plenum, which sits behind your furnace and ductwork. It’s also often referred to as the core, and it works with the expansion valve and blower fan to move cool air into your home.
When it’s working properly, a faulty or worn-out evaporator coil cannot transfer enough heat from your home to the outside world to adequately cool it. When this happens, your air conditioner won’t be able to cool the air it’s sending out, and it will cost you more energy costs.
Replacing an evaporator coil is not always necessary, but it can be a great way to increase the efficiency of your AC unit and keep your utility bills down. Several factors can impact the cost of an evaporator coil replacement, including how old your unit is and what type of refrigerant it uses.
If you are considering replacing an evaporator coil on your air conditioner, it’s best to do it while your system is still new. That will save you money in the long run and prolong its life.
4. Check the Filters
One of the easiest ways to prevent a costly HVAC repair or shorten the life of your air conditioning system is to change out the filters regularly. Dirty or clogged filters force your system to work harder, which can cause the unit to wear out faster and cost you more on your bill.
A clogged filter can also reduce your home’s indoor air quality by allowing dust and dirt to enter your system’s vents. This can worsen allergy symptoms, especially for people with respiratory problems such as asthma or allergies.
When you replace your filter, make sure to use a high-quality replacement. Look for a filter with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating of at least 12 – 16 to eliminate a large majority of bacteria, smoke, and other microscopic particles.
You’ll also want to check the thickness of the filter, which will help you decide if it’s too dense for your system. Most residential filters are 1-inch thick, but 4-inch filters are becoming more common.
If you have a small air handler or furnace, you may want to consider installing a thicker filter specially designed for your setup. This is typically a simple project your HVAC technician will complete for you.
Once you’ve got the right size, remove your old filter and insert a new one. Make sure to place it in the slot correctly, with the airflow arrows pointing in the correct direction for optimal airflow.
You can get new air filters at most home improvement stores and retailers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Just be sure to choose a quality filter that meets the manufacturer’s recommended replacement schedule.
5. Check the Drainage
Drains are an important part of any HVAC system. They help remove excess water that accumulates in the unit to prevent it from damaging the unit and causing expensive repairs.
When you install a new air conditioning system, you should make sure that the drain pan is properly aligned. If you don’t, it may be hard to drain the pan and cause water to pool in the bottom of the pan.
Fortunately, this problem is easy to solve. First, check the drain pan for any signs of rust or damage.
Then, check the drain line for clogs. This line is usually a PVC pipe that leaves the sealed evaporator coil compartment.
If the drain line is clogged, you need to flush it out with distilled vinegar. This common ingredient is an acid that kills mold and bacteria and is also effective at breaking down sludge and debris.
You can do this by removing the drain cap and pouring around a quarter of a cup of vinegar straight down the line. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and then flush the drain line with water.
Once you’re confident the drain line is free of clogs, it’s time to reconnect it. It’s important to do this carefully; you should glue the PVC pipe if it hasn’t already.
There are several reasons why your air conditioner’s drain line might be clogged. The most common is dirt and debris buildup. But if you live in a humid area, algae and mold can quickly form as well.