Heating and Air Conditioning:
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- Clean or replace filters so that they will be fresh when you turn the air conditioning on for the first time in the summer or the furnace in the fall. Dirty filters not only restrict air flow, they can also contribute to equipment breakdown.
Ideally, furnace filters should be replaced on a quarterly basis, but certainly no less than twice a year.
- Have the service technician drain and clean your humidifier. You probably won't need it during the humid summer months and shutting it off saves electricity, as well as wear and tear on the equipment.
Remember to shut off your humidistat, which powers and regulates your home's automatic humidifier.
- One of the most important things you can do to get your air conditioner ready for heavy summer workout is to clear the area around the outdoor condenser of dirt, leaves and other debris that accumulated over winter. Also, periodically throughout the summer you ought to check for shrubbery growth around the outside condenser and keep it trimmed.
- Check closely for air leaks in ductwork, especially at connection points. Ductwork exposed to outside or attic air must be insulated for additional reduction of heat transfer.
- If your fuel bills are exceptionally high, you may want to find an HVAC contractor that offers sophisticated blower door technology inspections. These high-tech operations find leaks that are undetectable by normal means.
- Central air conditioning units should be inspected, cleaned, and tuned by a professional technician once every two to three years to extend the life of the unit and cut down on energy consumption. Check with your contractor on the proper maintenance schedule for your unit.
If your home is equipped with a flood control device such as an ejector pump, have it checked by your plumbing contractor to make sure it is working properly before the heavy spring rains.
- Most people are astounded at the impact of even tiny leaks in faucets or toilets. Leaks that are barely perceptible to the naked eye can waste thousands of gallons of fresh water a year, costing you hundreds of dollars in excess water bills. If you have a leak that you know of, get it fixed before all that money goes, literally, down the drain. It's a good idea to have a professional plumber do a complete household check-up to find leaks that escape casual notice.
- Your water heater is one of the most important household appliances. Over time sediment builds at the bottom of the heater, which can hamper performance. A good professional will check this on an annual basis. He or she will also check the drain valve for signs of leakage, and the anode rods for corrosion.
- Also important is a water heater burner inspection. A good way of telling is to check the flame under the water heater. It should appear blue with yellow tips. If it's mostly yellow or if you see a layer of soot and carbon, the flue ways may be clogged. Don't try anything yourself at this point. Call a professional to investigate the situation.
- Once a water heater springs a leak in its housing, it is beyond repair and must be replaced. Many units will last 15-20 years or even longer before this happens. (And it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient times, like when the family is coming over for a holiday gathering!) If you have an ancient water heater, it may pay off for you to get it replaced even before it breaks down. Units made in the last 10 -15 years have much higher operating efficiencies than older models. Savings in fuel costs often will pay for the new installation in just a few years.
- Lawn sprinklers often spring leaks over the winter. If puddles form on your lawn, you probably have seepage in some of the lines.
- Check your sump pump to make sure it's in working order before the heavy spring rains begin. Watch for build-up of sand or other debris in the sump pit. This can jam the pump and burn out its motor. Also, make sure the pump's discharge pipe is not clogged. Hook up a garden hose to the connection point. If water runs through the other end, the pipe is okay.
- Consider getting a battery-operated back-up sump pump if your pump has been overloaded in the past from heavy rains.
- Keep rain gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and other debris. Water overflowing from blocked gutters collects around your home's foundation and seeps into your basement.