Owning your first home is an exciting time, but it’s also a learning experience. All of those issues that the landlord once took care of are now your responsibility, including those related to your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit. Here are a few things you need to know to keep your air clean and comfortable.
Frequency of filter changes
The best authorities on filter-change frequency will be the manufacturer of your unit and your HVAC professional. Consult both your manual and your service provider for specific recommendations. As a general rule, though, your HVAC filter should be changed every six weeks to three months, but certain factors may require more frequent replacement.
Allergies. If you suffer from allergies and live in an area with a high pollen count, consider changing your filters monthly, at a minimum. You may also look into allergen-reducing filters.
Pets. Fur is a force all its own, and will clog your filter quickly no matter what brand or type you use. In a single-pet home, you should change your filters at least monthly. If you have multiple pets, a new filter could be necessary as often as every two weeks. In these cases, consider using less expensive filters so you can change them as often as needed without breaking the bank.
The closed-vent myth
Many first-time homeowners assume they are saving money by closing heating and air vents in unused parts of the home. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, you are wasting energy—and money—when you close your vents.
When your new home’s HVAC unit was first installed, its air flow was balanced based on the assumption of open vents. When you block vents, your unit has to work harder to maintain the same temperature throughout your home. In the short term, that means increased energy costs, and in the long term, it can actually decrease the life of your HVAC.
Low coolant and what it means
AC coolant isn’t a fuel, so it doesn’t get “used up” by your unit naturally. If your unit needs a charge, there’s an underlying cause—usually a leak. Left unattended, these types of leaks can worsen and cause serious damage, so be ready to recognize the early warning signs.
Does your thermostat seem to be working accurately, or are you continually having to set the temperature lower to remain comfortable? Is the air coming out of your vents noticeably cold, or only a bit cooler than room temperature? Pay attention to these things as you settle in for your first summer in your new home. If you start to notice a change, you may have an issue that needs to be resolved.
The last thing you want during the peak of a Texas summer is a broken air conditioner. With proper care and maintenance, though, your HVAC unit can keep you cool and comfortable in your new home.
James Richmond owns and operates Richmond’s Air in Houston.