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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.

6 ways to prepare your home before leaving on vacation

With Spring Break around the corner and many of us looking for ways to escape this never ending polar vortex cycle, we wanted to remind everyone to remember to ensure your prepare your home before you leave to help avoid potential problems you won’t be able to address while you are away. While it is best to check with your insurance company to see exactly what steps you should take, we have six steps listed below that can help protect your home from water damage, heating/electrical system malfunctions and other possible threats while you are away for an extended period of time.

 

1. Turn off the water

Before you leave, turn off your main water line. If your furnace fails while you’re away, and the temperature drops, water in the pipes could freeze and potentially burst the pipes causing extensive damage. After you have turned off the main source, open up every faucet and drain the water lines. Go through your home and make sure the toilets, water heater (turn off the gas or electric supply first) have all been drained.

 

2. Check the thermostat’s settings.

Reduce the temperature of your to around 15’C to save energy. You just need to keep your home warm enough so your pipes don’t freeze. Keep in mind that most thermostats are programmable now and run on batteries. If you haven’t changed your batteries this year, it’s time to do it before you leave. The last thing you need is your furnace to stop running because your thermostat dies!

 

3. Get rid of extra food

Don’t keep any food that is likely to go bad while you’re away and empty your freezer as much as possible before you leave. If the electric fails in your absence and then is restored, the food in your freezer will thaw and refreeze, which is very dangerous. If you are unable to empty your freezer, place a coin on top of a frozen ice cube. If the ice cube melts while you’re away, the coin will sink into the ice cube and will freeze inside of it once the power kicks back on. If this happens you will know that there was a power outage while you were away and now you can discard any frozen foods. Additionally, you should take out all trash, recycling and compost to avoid attracting critters.

 

4. Pull the plugs

Electronics still use energy, even when switched off, so unplug small appliances (toaster, coffee machine) and extra lamps to help save on energy and protect against power surges.

 

5. Make your home look lived in

Confirm that your alarm systems are in working order and have been activated. You may also want to consider a couple of “smart” options such as “smart bulbs” and “smart plugs” that allow you to control lighting through your smartphone or a programmed routine. You could also install motion-sensitive exterior lights  to discourage prowlers. Depending on the amount of time you are away, you may want to forward your mail and stop newspaper delivery and ask a friend to pick up items that may be left at your door. While you are away escaping the snow, don’t forget that your home is not! Arrange for someone to remove snow after storms or at the very least, to drive on your driveway making it appear as if you are home. Keep window blinds pulled and valuables tucked away out of sight. Lastly, avoid posting your travel plans or vacation pictures on social media sites until you are home, as potential thieves can use that information to learn when your house will be vacant.

 

6. Perform routine maintenance before you leave

Depending on the amount of time you will be away, you may want to have your heating system inspected and serviced by a licensed professional before the onset of cold weather.Your furnace works overtime in the winter so if you intend on leaving it on over your vacation pay close attention to it’s condition. If your furnace should quit while you are away in the winter, your pipes can freeze up and the ensuing flood can cause massive damage to your home and even neighbouring properties for those residing in multi-residential complexes. At Ignite Heating and Air Conditioning we complete a comprehensive checklist to clean your furnace and ensure preventative measures are taken to keep your furnace running efficiently. We leave you a copy of our checklist outlining everything that was looked at, and any preventative maintenance tips that we might have for you. Give us a call @ 780.919.4916 today to book your annual furnace maintenance before you leave.

Change your furnace filter!

Just a reminder from our team!

Lack of air flow due to a dirty filter is one of the most common reasons for a service call. Your filter traps the unwanted dirt and dust particles we unknowingly produce and prevents them from recirculating through your home. At Ignite we recommend changing your filter at least every three months – more so in households with allergies, pets or smokers. Avoid a costly furnace repair and replace your filters on a regular basis!

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