Originally posted at the Democrat & Chronicle
Mice and chipmunks and spiders — oh my!
Heating and cooling technicians often find these and other unwelcome critters in air conditioning units during spring inspections.
“They make their nest in the outdoor unit’s electrical service panel and create all kinds of havoc,” says Ed Diamond, service manager at Paris Heating and Cooling on West Ridge Road in Rochester. “Even spider nests interfere with the low voltage process.”
The potential for a rodent invasion is just one reason why it’s important to get your air conditioning system checked in the spring before the weather warms up too much.
In addition, a properly maintained system lasts longer, costs less to run, and is more efficient.
According to HomeAdvisor.com, a site that provides homeowners with tools and resources for home improvement projects, “Lack of maintenance is the number one killer of HVAC systems.”
The site recommends getting a professional tune-up before every cooling season.
Energy.gov reports that 48 percent of the energy use in a typical home in the United States goes to heating and cooling. For most homeowners, that makes it their largest household energy expense.
It’s all the more reason to make sure these systems are operating at peak efficiency.
While a spring tune-up ensures optimum operating conditions, such routine seasonal maintenance also helps uncover hidden problems that include mold or bacteria building up in the drain system inside the house. A professional can easily and quickly detect and treat these problems.
Paris Heating and Cooling offers a multipoint check that involves opening up the air-conditioning unit and checking for uninvited guests as well as other potential issues. Technicians make sure cooling coils are clean so they function at peak performance.
Diamond also recommends three easy steps that homeowners can take care of on their own:
1. Change the furnace filter.
“Many people think their furnace filter only applies to the heating season, but it’s very critical in the cooling season as well,” Diamond says. Lack of clean air flow will cause your unit to stop cooling and ice up inside, creating a service call that could be avoided.
2. Adjust the furnace humidifier.
Rochester summers are humid enough without adding moisture to the air, so set the humidistat to the off position. While you’re at it, flip the duct damper from winter to summer, too.
3. Change the batteries in the thermostat.
This is especially true if you’re experiencing a problem. “Before making a service call, check your thermostat batteries,” Diamond says. “You don’t want to pay for a visit only to discover that the problem is dead batteries.”
Diamond’s most important tip to homeowners getting ready for the warmer weather?
“Don’t be afraid to call a pro if you have questions,” he says. “There’s no such thing as a stupid question. If you don’t understand something, give us a call and we’ll talk you through it on the phone.”
Oh, and if they happen to find a dead rodent in your system when conducting your annual air condition inspection, they’ll remove it at no extra charge.