Tag Archive for: AC Maintenance

What’s in Your Ductwork?

Keeping your HVAC ductwork clean and in good condition is essential to achieving high-quality air in your home. Lack of regular maintenance and HVAC servicing is the number one cause of pests and pathogens in system ducts. So, do you know what’s in your ductwork? You may be shocked to find what ductwork contaminants are in your system.

Here are Several Common Problems to Look Out For:

Signs Your HVAC Servicing is Overdue

If you can’t remember when HVAC servicing was last carried out, your home may be experiencing some unpleasant consequences. Nasty odors, and noises like rattling, squeaking, and squealing that seem to be coming from the HVAC are clear signs that equipment inspection should be done pronto. Additionally, you may notice a smell of dust in the air, or sudden mustiness, or family members may be experiencing intense allergy symptoms.

Large, Furry, or Feathery Intruders

Old houses are prone to wear and tear, creating openings in external and internal walls. These small gaps entice and enable many types of rodents to work their way inside and make their homes inside wall cavities and ductwork. Let’s talk about mice and rats, for starters.

If your HVAC vents through a chimney, there’s also the potential for storm damage to the chimney cap and more furry and feathered friends to install themselves through openings from the roof. Furthermore, as an HVAC system ages, normal wear and tear will also contribute to gaps and weaknesses in the ductwork providing entryways for small critters.

Small and Creepy Invaders

If rodents and birds can make a nuisance of themselves in chimney structures and ductwork, then it’s even easier for tiny and not-so-tiny, creeping, crawling, and scuttling nuisances to come inside. Insects and arachnids that frequent HVAC ducts include dust mites, spiders, cockroaches, and silverfish.

Your unwelcome lodgers can breed quickly in the cavities, sheltered nooks, and crannies of ducts. A small problem can soon become an explosion in numbers and a significant headache to get rid of. Fortunately, many HVAC companies perform basic pest control as part of their servicing and will readily capture and dispose of small critters.

Hidden but Toxic Ductwork Contaminants

It’s usually fairly obvious when rodents or birds make themselves at home where they’re not wanted. Still, the less obvious ductwork contaminants can be highly detrimental to the air quality in your home or workplace. Organic pollutants include fungal and mold spores, pollen particles, and harmful bacteria and virus spores. These airborne particles can easily make their way into the ducts from the outdoors.

Your first sign that these microscopic particles may be lodged in your HVAC ducts is when you or yours develop respiratory symptoms.  Excessive sneezing, coughing, a tendency to develop sinus problems, colds, and flu can all be signs that pollutants are present in heavy concentrations in the air. Over time too much exposure to these pollutants can weaken the immune system in susceptible people and cause constant respiratory problems. Reducing such health risks requires that air filters be regularly changed and upgraded to HEPA filtration levels if necessary.

How Regular HVAC Servicing Prevents and Removes Problems

Professional, qualified HVAC technicians follow strict processes when servicing your HVAC. They inspect, lubricate, and adjust moving parts, including motors, belts, controls, and valves. Air measurements are performed to ensure there are no blockages or leaks and that blower mechanisms are working correctly. Thermostat controls are checked along with electrical connections.

The ductwork is inspected to identify and repair any gaps that have allowed entry by animals or biological pollutants. Air filters are inspected and replaced.

Removing Pests and Pollutants

If large rodents such as squirrels, snakes, or raccoons have invaded, a professional pest control company may have to be called in before HVAC cleaning begins. Insects can be blown out of the system as the ducts are cleaned and vacuumed. Industrial-strength vacuums can also remove small dead creatures such as mice and spiders.

Severe contamination levels may require pesticides, antiseptics, or disinfectants to be applied. The Environmental Protection Agency lists registered and recommended products that can be used for cleaning purposes.

Tackle Ductwork Problems with Your Local HVAC Experts

Briggs HVAC is your local Northern Virginia for all HVAC maintenance and servicing. Our technicians give superior service, expertly inspecting, cleaning, and remediating your HVAC equipment. With a regular maintenance plan, you get a twice-yearly service and head off a host of potential problems. Servicing includes ensuring your equipment is properly sealed to prevent animals and other ductwork contaminants. Contact us today for more details

6 Signs Your AC Needs to Be Serviced

On a sweltering hot day, it’s blissful to come in from the heat outside and relax in the cool temperature of your air-conditioned home. But, before summer begins, you’ll want to ensure that your AC unit is operating properly. The last thing you want is the air conditioning cutting out during a heat wave and finding local AC services too busy to attend. So, examine these six signs your AC needs to be serviced and head off problems.

1. Not Blowing Any Air

There may be a blockage if you have central AC and cannot feel air coming through the vents. You should check that all the vents are open and that airflow isn’t blocked by furniture or other objects.

If your air conditioning is running, but there’s no air blowing, mechanical failure may be the cause. For example, the blower belt mechanism may have broken, or there could be a fault in the motor. All mechanical repairs should be done by qualified AC technicians.

2. Blowing Hot Instead of Cold

Another strong sign your AC needs servicing is if the equipment blows hot air instead of cold. The hot air can happen for several reasons; a compressor may be damaged, the refrigerant level may be too low, or condenser coils may be dirty and blocked. Condenser coils can be cleaned easily enough, and refrigerant levels topped up without too much effort, but the compressor is different.

The compressor forces the refrigerant through the AC system, moves air, and keeps all the components running. If the compressor stops working, the entire system will come to a halt. Regular preventive maintenance is the best way to stop problems from occurring. Unfortunately, if the compressor has developed a fault, this is likely to be a costly repair or replacement.

3. Leaks are Another Sign Your AC Needs Servicing

Refrigerant is toxic, and leaks are dangerous. Over time, natural wear and tear processes can corrode AC coils, and other components will wear out. Holes, cracks, and loose joints let refrigerant leak out of the system. Leaks will reduce the refrigerant level, and the AC system cannot keep the air temperature at the right level. As a result, a complete system breakdown can occur.

Another source of an AC leak is clogged drain lines. When this happens, moisture cannot drain to the outside, backs up, and will cause a leak inside the home. Rusty or damaged drain pans and broken condensate pumps can also cause leaks inside the house.

4. Nasty Odors from Your AC Are a Good Reason to Call for AC Services

Unpleasant smells produced by your air conditioning system are always a cause for concern. An acrid, burning odor can indicate a serious overheating fault that could lead to a fire and permanent damage. Turn off the system and call for expert assistance straight away as this is a dangerous situation.

The whiff of musty and stale air may point to high dust levels in the system or mold and bacteria growing within the ducts. These nasty particles can detach and blow through the air conditioning system, lowering air quality and causing health issues. A thorough professional inspection and cleaning should be organized as soon as you know of the problem.

5. Wrong Temperature Levels

If indoor temperature levels are too high, low, or uneven throughout the home, there could be several causes. The thermostat may have malfunctioned, air filters may be dirty and clogged, the compressor may be damaged, or a refrigerant leak may have happened.

Changing air filters is easy enough for most homeowners, but fixing refrigerant leaks or the thermostat are tasks for qualified technicians.

6. Loud Noises

Another sign your AC needs servicing is clearly audible noise. Hissing and bubbling sounds can indicate a leak of refrigerant. Banging or clanking noises can happen if a part has come loose. Broken blower belts and faulty blower motors can cause high distinct squealing sounds. A rattling noise often accompanies compressor problems.

A well-maintained and properly operating air conditioner should only make a gentle hum. Any suddenly occurring, distinctive noises can indicate a severe problem is occurring. Switching off the system and booking an immediate service call is best.

Local Air Conditioning Experts in Northern Virginia

AC systems are complex equipment with intricate components and numerous moving parts. The potential for problems is therefore relatively high, particularly if regular maintenance doesn’t happen. Get in touch with Briggs HVAC for professional AC services, including all types of repairs and maintenance. HVAC maintenance plans will keep your equipment in peak condition and improve lifespan.

5 DIY Tips for at Home Air Conditioner Maintenance

Maintaining your air conditioning unit can not only extend the life of your unit, but it can also improve the health of your family & pets, and help you avoid costly repairs down the line that could’ve easily been avoided. We’ll walk through 5 tips that can help you maintain your air units.

Air Conditioner Power Consumption How Much Are You Using

Summer is here, and that means longer days with hotter temperatures. Whether you’re staying at home or going to work, the air conditioner is going to be cooling the environment. An air conditioner is a necessity, especially for children, the elderly, and delicate electronic equipment, which all suffer in extreme heat.

With more reliance on your air conditioner, you may be doing things that are causing more AC and power usage than necessary. Here are a few of the ways you can decrease that power consumption.

Change Your Filter

The easiest way to ensure more efficient power use is also the easiest to forget. If you’re using a central HVAC system, all the air that is processed still runs to your furnace before being piped through the vents. So, the air is pushed through and cleaned by the filter.

The filter should be replaced with every change of season. Waiting four or more months means allowing the filter to become so clogged with dirt that air is no longer smoothly passing through. If that happens, your air conditioner must now work longer to produce more air to get through the filter and into your home. That adds up to higher electricity bills. Make sure to replace your filter, and you’ll maintain power efficiency.

Furniture Placement

A centralized HVAC system uses vents that push heated or chilled air out of grates or registers in the floor. The placement of registers in rooms is optimized to distribute that air as efficiently as possible, but sometimes, HVAC efficiency interferes with decor needs.

If you have a sofa, recliner, or bed that is positioned directly over one of these registers this is a significant hit to your air conditioner—and furnace—efficiency. That air is not spreading throughout the room the way it should, which causes HVAC systems to work longer than they need to. If possible, try to arrange furniture so that it doesn’t block the air flow from these registers. It makes a difference to your power consumption.

Run It Hot During Vacancies

The air conditioner is meant to keep you and other residents comfortable. But if no one is home, there’s no need to keep running the AC at these lower temperatures. If you know that people won’t be in the space for hours at a time, such as during work or school hours or for vacations, then it’s better to set the temperature to 85°F. This is still cool enough that electronics won’t be affected.

If you have a smart thermostat, you can do this remotely through an app on your phone, which then allows you to reset the temperature to a comfortable level a few minutes before you return to your home.

Run the Air Conditioner at 78°F

This depends entirely on willingness and personal sensitivity. However, if you can do so, keeping the temperature of a home at 78°F is the air conditioner equivalent of running a car on “cruise control.”

The heat tolerance of you and your family is critical here, so always prioritize the safety and health of family members. However, if no one has any issues, then for every degree above 78° you are willing to go, you can save 3% on bills. Conversely, you experience that same increase in your bills with every degree you go below 78°F.

Dress for Comfort

In the tropics, people dress for the weather, and the same should be true here when summer hits Virginia. If you’re at home, there’s no need to dress in jeans and a sweater. Dress lightly, with thinner materials, and in shorter sleeves and pants.

You will be comfortable at much higher temperatures in your home and can set the thermostat to more efficient settings.

Use Your Fans

If you have ceiling fans or any other type of fan, these use less electricity than your air conditioner. At the same time, they can help you to lower your usage of the air conditioner since the movement of air provides a cooling effect.

Combining ceiling or room fan action with your air conditioner allows you to leave your thermostat at higher settings while remaining comfortable. Try this in any room that you’re using. If you have any additional questions or need assistance with your air conditioner, contact us today, and we’ll be happy to help.