Categories > Efficiency

AC Maintenance Steps for the Start of the Season

We’ve heard from a few of our customers that they don’t really know what they should be doing to start-up their AC in the spring. If you’re just flipping the switch to cool and hoping for the best, there’s a few more steps you should be taking to ensure you maintain the longevity of your cooling system for the years to come. See our tips in the the steps listed below, or check out our video if your unsure of what we’re talking about! If any of the steps listed in this post seem like too much work, you can always have us do them for you and join our Maintenance Club. Click here for more information on joining our Maintenance Club or call us @ 780.919.4916.

Click here to see our Spring AC Start-Up video!

Please note, that the outside temperature must be above 12°C in order for your air conditioner to run.

Step 1: Change your furnace filter

Changing or cleaning the air filter is one of the most important steps you can take to maintain your air conditioner, as it heads off all these potential issues, improves energy efficiency and helps you avoid spending money on air conditioning repairs.

Here’s what can happen if you let air filter replacements fall by the wayside.

  • Short-Cycling: Your air conditioner is supposed to cycle on and off occasionally throughout the day, but a dirty air filter can cause those cycles to become more frequent than they need to be, putting additional strain on your AC system.
  • Freezing Up: A clean air filter allows air to flow freely through your unit. A dirty air filter restricts the flow of cold air, causing it to build up inside the air conditioner and lower the internal temperature. Given enough time, that buildup of cold air can eventually cause ice or frost to form on the coils outside.
  • Allergen Buildup: A dirty filter can cause allergens to build up and linger in your duct system. Whenever you have a forced-air system running, those allergens will be released into the air you breathe. 
  • General Wear and Tear: Air conditioners just last longer if they’re maintained properly. Your air filter helps to stop dust and dirt from building up on all of the unit’s internal components. Changing your filter on a regular basis helps to reduce the wear and tear on your system, helping it to last longer and perform efficiently.

Step 2: Change your humidifier’s settings

Many people with central humidifiers go into the cooling season forgetting to shut down the humidifier for the summer. A central air conditioner will not cool or dehumidify properly if the humidifier is running. Keeping your humidifier on during the summer pushes cooler air into your coils and could cause a freeze-up of your system.

Step 3: Clean up around your condenser (outdoor unit)

  • Rake back leaves and debris outside the condenser and cut back branches and vegetation at least 2 feet in all directions to ensure proper airflow around the unit. 
  • Remove a cover if you have used one. (Note: We don’t recommend a cover since moisture can build up inside and cause corrosion. Also, a completely covered unit encourages vermin to build nests inside and they may damage the condenser.)
  • Just to be safe, turn the power off while you clean the unit.
  • Spray down the outdoor unit with a gentle flow of water.
  • Don’t forget to turn the power back on to the unit.

Step 4: Adjust your thermostat

Turn your system on to cool. The air conditioner will now come on automatically when the temperature at the thermostat registers below the setting you have selected. We recommend you keep your temperature on your thermostat set between 19-23℃. Setting the thermostat to a lower temperature will not cool the home faster! 

Step 5: Adjust your registers

Keeping registers open improves comfort and moisture management, especially during summer months. You have the choice of adjusting the dampers in these covers to regulate the cool air flow within your home. 

Do not completely close off more than 20% of the registers as this will reduce the airflow from your furnace, putting unnecessary strain on your furnace. (At this point, we would like to remind you that register filters should never be installed, as they reduce the airflow from your furnace, putting unnecessary strain on your furnace. )

Step 6: Check your basement return air

For maximum comfort and efficient energy use, arrange furniture and draperies to allow unobstructed airflow from registers and to cold air returns. If cold air is unable to return to the furnace, the flow of cooled air to that area of your home becomes restricted.

If you don’t have a return air vent in your basement or you find it is really cold and want another one, give us a call to have one installed.

Step 7: Adjust your ceiling fans

Reverse the direction of ceiling fans so that they spin counter clockwise blowing straight air down. This will help redistribute the warm air trapped near the ceiling making the room feel cooler.

Step 8: Call Ignite for annual maintenance

At Ignite, we suggest annual maintenance of you unit to ensure it will perform optimally for the season. The steps listed in this post do not replace the steps taken during our maintenance visits! A maintenance visit consists of a deep clean of the outdoor condensing unit, checking for signs of refrigerant leaks, and ensuring the unit is will perform efficiently for the season. However, if any of the steps listed in this post seem like too much work, you can always have us do them for you when we do your annual maintenance. Also, have you heard about our Maintenance Club? Click here for more information on joining or call us @ 780.919.4916.

Join the Ignite Maintenance Club!

At Ignite Heating and Air Conditioning, we know that your HVAC system is critical to your family’s comfort and safety. The benefits of annual furnace maintenance include: lower energy bills, fewer repairs, reduced risk of a surprise breakdown, longer equipment life and safer equipment operation. At Ignite, we offer 4 different levels of protection plans so you can find the package that is best for you. Click here for more information!

Want to join the club? Fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you shortly!

4 steps to take to improve your indoor air quality

Indoor air quality is the air quality within and around buildings and structures. It is known to affect the health, comfort and well-being of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to Sick Building Syndrome, reduced productivity and impaired learning in schools. Many people with allergies stay indoors when outdoor air is full of pollen and spores, however, the air inside your home can be up to FIVE times more polluted than the air outside. Our indoor air quality is important to human health because we spend over 80% of our time indoors. In fact, during the spring, when environmental triggers are at their highest, the effects on everyone’s health can be compounded by poor indoor air quality. People with asthma, allergies or lung disease can be greatly affected by poor indoor air quality and poor indoor air quality can affect the development in children and has been linked to lung disease later in life.

If you are suffering from the health effects of air pollution, your symptoms can include: tiredness, headache or dizziness, coughing and sneezing, wheezing or difficulty breathing, more mucous in the nose or throat, or dry or irritated eyes, nose, throat and skin. You may notice these symptoms after a few minutes or hours and then feel better after leaving the affected area. This may be more noticeable if you have not spent much time in affected areas. For example, you may notice a difference after a vacation.

It’s important to follow-up with your doctor if you’re noticing a pattern or have health concerns, but in the meantime here are four steps you can take as a homeowner to improve the air quality of your home.

1. Clean it Up
The most effective way to reduce your indoor air pollution is to spend some time to remove or reduce the problem at the source.

  • Regularly clean the surfaces of your home
  • Remove mold at the source by yourself (if it’s a small amount) or contacting a contractor if it’s a large amount.
  • Make your home smoke-free
  • Avoid idling your vehicles or gas-powered yard equipment in your garage
  • Avoid the use of heavily scented products in your home
  • Take care when decorating as most products these days contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release odours and pollutants into the air around them. Choose low-VOCs products whenever possible and ensure there is adequate ventilation during a renovation project.

2. Better Ventilation

Check that your home has adequate air circulation and heat flow. Ensure your bathroom fans, kitchen fans and dryer vents are are all vented to the outside and not the attic or back inside the house.

Tight insulation, too much humidity and other factors can lead to unhealthy air in your home or workplace, causing a number of heath problems. One way to mitigate this is to use a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) to bring in a continuous supply of fresh, filtered air into your home while expelling stale air. An HRV also saves you money by warming or cooling the air coming into your home, depending on the season.

At Ignite we can help you with improving your ventilation by assisting with ductwork modifications and/or installing an HRV to improve the quality of the air inside your home.

3. Filter the Air

Ensure the air circulating through your home is clean by changing your filter on a regular basis. Your filter traps the unwanted dirt and dust particles we unknowingly produce and prevents them from recirculating through your home. Mold spores, pet dander, cooking odors, dust, dust mites and their by-products are all factors that can be captured and reduced with your furnace filter.

Household furnace filters have different ratings based on how dense the filter fabric is. Ratings are called MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating is a scale of 1-16, with 1 being the least dense and 16 being the densest. This scale refers to the size of the particles you are trying to trap. A filter rated between MERV 6 and 11 can handle pretty much everything in a typical household and should be just right to maintain your indoor air quality and air circulation. If you have environmental allergies or are immunocompromised you want something with a MERV rating of 11 or higher (barring that your furnace can handle the restricted air flow.)

At Ignite we can supply you with furnace filters that allow for adequate air flow while capturing those unwanted dirt and dust particles circulating in your home. If allergies or other health issues are a concern for you, we can work with you to assess if your furnace can handle a filter with a higher MERV rating and provide any required enhancements to keep your system performing safely and efficiently.

4. Purify the Air

Ensure the air circulating through your home is disinfected from harmful microorganisms by installing a HomeShield Ultraviolet Light Purification system. This is a chemical-free method of purification that is installed into the ductwork of your HVAC system and it sterilizes the air by stopping the spread and growth of harmful viruses, molds, pet dander, bacteria and allergens from passing through your HVAC system into your home. HomeShield can help you breath easy and reduce the effects of season allergies and other heath issues.

At Ignite we can help you to have a home that is free of pollutants, microbes, allergens by installing your HomeShield Ultraviolet Light Purification system.

We love to work with homeowners to ensure their indoor air quality is the the best it can be. If you’ve identified some deficiencies in steps you need to take to improve your indoor air quality, give us a call @ 780.919.4916 to book a free quote and discuss the options available to you.

sources: Health Canada and the Canadian Lung Association

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