HVAC woes? Does your system get a clean bill of health? Time for a check-up!

by Gilbert Migirditsian, professional engineer, home inspector, and founder of GM Inspection

Did you ever wonder why, at the worst possible time, you wake up in the middle of the night, cold and shivering?  Is there something you can do with all this?  Or how about looking at it from the flip side where you come home after a scorching day in public transit only to find yourself in a home that is even hotter that it was on your way back?  Is there something you can do about this or are you simply at the mercy of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning HVAC system?

The key is to make an informed decision based on the facts and not promises made by a salesperson for energy savings, comfort, or performance Click To Tweet

Besides these events happening at the worst possible time, it usually becomes impossible to find someone to carry out repairs since everyone is calling the same person at the same time.  For this reason, I recommend that regular maintenance be carried out on HVAC systems especially if such systems are advancing in age.  Such service is usually well timed in the late spring or in early fall right before a system is solicited.  Other than a professional maintenance, is there something you can do?  Let’s look at the example of central forced air systems.  Changing the air filter is a good start as a dirty filter will automatically push the fan motor much harder and most probably initiate failure when that fan is at its breaking point.  Another action that can be taken is to clear away any furniture obstructing vents as this will also cause the system to work harder by creating restriction at the point of discharge.  Even for systems that are localized such as baseboard heaters, obstructions will create the need for supplementary heat that will, in turn, likely cause a system that is already on the brink of failure to do just that, fail.  Remember, comfort dictates how we heat and cool so this is not be neglected.

How about the air conditioning component, is there anything that can be done here?  A simple solution here is to remove any debris and leaves off the condensing unit outdoors while ensuring clearance of about three feet is available around the unit.  Now obviously there are many different configurations of systems that will allow us to heat, cool, and turn over the air in our homes so we can’t get into every little detail but what about that time when the repairs have become such that it’s time to consider replacement instead of repair?  The age of your system is not the only factor but is a determining one when breakdowns have become more frequent.  Also of issue is the efficiency of the system where a much older system, especially one burning either oil or gas, will have much higher energy costs with age.  This is where a trade-off is to be made between the replacement cost and the operating cost.

The key is to make an informed decision based on the facts and not promises made by a salesperson for energy savings, comfort, or performance that can’t be backed up by hard facts.  Remember, knowledge is power so surround yourself with those who can best inform you and allow you to take the right decisions at the right time.

See you next time when I’ll be back with more useful information!  In the meantime, visit us on Facebook.