AC System needs tune-up

7 Best Spring Cleaning Tips for A/C Maintenance

  • Written By: Rebecca Bridges

  • An A/C Tune-up is the best way to keep your HVAC system running efficiently. Make sure it’s part of your spring cleaning so you can prepare for the the summer cooling season.

    Heating and cooling your home accounts for 50% of your electricity bill. Proper maintenance can keep your HVAC running efficiently and includes changing air filters, clearing the condensate drain and checking electrical connections, ductwork and refrigerant levels.

    Our 7 spring cleaning tips for your HVAC system will help you keep everything humming along. Plus, you may be eligible for a free A/C tune-up!

    7 Tips for A/C Maintenance

    1.  Change Your Air Filter Easy to do, but easy to forget. This one tip can have a big impact on the health of your HVAC system, and make it more efficient. Once the air filter clogs, the HVAC uses more energy to pull in air. For best results, replace your air filter monthly, especially if you have pets in the home. Make the first day of the month your recurring day to change the air filter!
    2. Clear the condensate drain. A clogged condensate drain pipe can make your AC system’s drain pan overflow. And believe us, there’s nothing fun about coming home to find water leaking into your home. Drain lines can become clogged with dirt, rust, algae and other debris.
    3. Remove obstructions around your exterior system. Check the outside unit to ensure that it’s not clogged with sticks, leaves or grass clippings. Plants may look pretty around the unit and provide it with shade, but vegetation should not be within two fee of the unit to ensure proper air flow.
    4. Clean your Evaporator Coil The external evaporator coil inside your unit needs to be cleaned to perform efficiently. You can purchase no rinse evaporator coil cleaner online. Or you can clean your evaporator coil using a solution of dishwasher soap and distilled water, with a rinse of white vinegar.
    5. Check Your Duct Work. Make sure your duct work is not sagging or ripped. Have leaks in your duct work repaired to increase your system’s efficiency and help your HVAC system cool your home more effectively. And never use duct tape on your duct work!
    6. Check Refrigerant Levels. Too much or too little will make your system less efficient. Adjust refrigerant levels as necessary. Be sure to double check the insulation on refrigerant lines and replace them if missing or damaged.
    7. Tighten Electrical Connections. Faulty electrical connections are a safety hazard you want to be sure to avoid.

    If some of this is outside your comfort zone…us too. Especially when it comes to opening up the HVAC system to access electrical or the evaporator coil. If you aren’t a DIY person, make sure to schedule an A/C tune-up with a professional.

    To keep your condensate pump free from mold and mildew, add a solution of 50% bleach/50% water to the access point, typically in your attic. Or, purchase a commercially available solution from your local A/C maintenance company or hardware store.

    What Should an A/C Check-Up Include?

    If you’re not a DIY type of person, some of our tips on A/C check-up may be a little intimidating. That’s where a professional A/C Tune-up comes in.

    A/C Tune-ups are low cost, averaging $90-$150 depending on your location. It’s a cheap way to give you peace of mind going into the cooling season.

    Here’s what an A/C tune-up should include.

    • Blower Motor – measure amperage and voltage for proper operation
    • Thermostat – test for proper operation, calibrate and level
    • Bearing – inspect for wear and lubricate
    • Inspect indoor coil
    • Condensate Drain – flush and treat with anti-algae
    • Inspect Condenser Coil — The outside unit
    • Refrigerant – monitor operating pressures (you will likely have to pay extra for any coolant added to your system)
    • Inspect fan blade
    • Safety Devices – inspect for proper operation
    • Electrical Disconnect Box – inspect for proper rating and safe installation
    • Electrical Wiring – inspect and tighten connections
    • Inspect electrical for exposed wiring
    • Inspect and test capacitors
    • Clean condenser coil and remove debris
    • Inspect service valves for proper operation
    • Measure Supply/Return temperature differential
    • Inspect duct work for energy loss

    If your HVAC unit is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with a high efficiency system. That could cut your heating and cooling costs by 20-40%. And consider a heat pump HVAC system, which could cool your home efficiently while letting you take advantage of tax incentives.

    How to Get a Free A/C Tune-Up from Your Local Utility Company

    Electricity grids across the country are feeling the strain. Aging power plants, limited resources and growing business needs all have an impact. and local utilities want to help you decrease your electricity usage to ensure the grid remains stable.

    Here are some of the utility-sponsored free or discounted HVAC tune-up programs in your area.

    Texas AC Tune-Up Programs

    • CenterPoint Energy. CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric offers a free HVAC CoolSaver tune-up to electricity customers in the Houston area. Contact CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric at 866.688.2323 or go online to sign up for your free tune-up.
    • AEP Texas. AEP Texas also offer free HVAC tune-ups through their AEP Texas Efficiency CoolSaver program. Sign up for the program through AEP-Central.
    • Oncor. Oncor offers an HVAC tune-up to low income customers. However most consumers can qualify for rebates on new HVAC systems, incentives toward insulation, and discount LED bulbs. Visit their site Take A Load Off Texas for more information.

    Connecticut HVAC Check-Up Programs

    • United Illuminating. UI does not offer an A/C check-up program. However, they do offer a discounted home energy audit that could save you $200-$250 on your annual energy bills. They also offer HVAC rebates. Visit the UI site or call 1-877-947-3873 (877-WISE-USE)  for information.
    • Eversource. Eversource Connecticut does not offer an AC check-up program. Like UI, they offer an discounted energy audit by calling 1-877-947-3873 (877-WISE-USE).

    Ohio A/C Tune-Up Programs

    • First Energy Companies. Homeowners served by The Illuminating Company, Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison may receive a rebate when they receive an HVAC tune-up from select companies. Contact your utility for information.
    • AEP Ohio.  AEP Ohio does not offer HVAC programs.
    • Duke Energy. Duke Energy offers HVAC rebate programs through their Smart $aver program.
    • DP&L. DP&L offers rebates on HVAC systems and programmable thermostats.

    Pennsylvania A/C Check-up Programs

    • First Energy Companies. If you are in the MetEd, Penn Power, West Penn Power or Pennelec utilities, you can qualify for a $50 rebate on your HVAC tune-up. See full qualifying details online.
    • PECO. Peco does not offer HVAC tuneup programs but does have incentives for HVAC upgrades.
    • PPL Electric. PPL does not offer an HVAC tune-up program, but offers rebates on HVAC upgrades.

    About Rebecca Bridges

    Rebecca Bridges has worked in deregulated energy markets since 2001. As chief marketing officer for ElectricityPlans, she focuses on helping consumers save on their electricity bills and find the best electricity plans. Outside of work, Rebecca uses her marketing experience to support dog rescue and can often be found hiking or biking local trails.

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