Are HVAC Maintenance Plans Worth It?

HVAC technician checking over an ac unit.HVAC systems, including furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps are a vital part of your home. They can control temperature and humidity while keeping you comfortable. But these systems usually require some regular tune-ups in order to keep them running smoothly and prevent expensive breakdowns. 

Many companies offer different types of HVAC preventive maintenance plans that are meant to mitigate that cost or at the very least, spread it out over a year. But are these plans worth the cost? We’ll answer a few questions you might have about HVAC maintenance plans that should be able to help you make your decision.

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Guide To Types of Attic Insulation

Batts of insulation in an attic.

If you aren’t the do-it-yourselfer type who enjoys home improvement projects and has some experience and skill with them, it might be best to leave attic insulation to a well-qualified professional, like those at Simply the Best Heating & Cooling. While you might not think your attic needs insulation in areas like Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, Chandler, or Gilbert, insulation works to keep cool air inside the home in the same way that warm air is retained in a cooler climate. There a few different types of home attic insulation and a question that we get asked a lot is, “What is the best type of insulation for my attic?” Here’s what you need to know about installing attic insulation.

Types and Methods of Insulation

Blanket Insulation

Probably the most popular form of insulation is known as blanket insulation, and its popularity is partly due to how easy it is to work with. When you’re working with this kind of insulation however, you should be sure to keep covered, because when your skin comes in contact with it, itchiness can develop. Recycled insulation is an environmentally friendly alternative which does not make your skin feel uncomfortable or itchy when contact is made. There’s no real difference with the installation of either type, but there is a definite difference in the handling comfort between the two.

Loose-Fill Insulation

Loose-fill insulation can be blown in with the use of a special machine which distributes loose-fill cellulose all throughout the framing of the attic, in all the obvious places, and especially in nooks and crannies, which can’t really be addressed by blanket insulation. The big advantage of this insulation method is that it can be very thorough in its coverage, and thus its effectiveness. However, this is probably not a method you would undertake as a homeowner, if for no other reason, because you wouldn’t have the necessary equipment.

Spray Foam Insulation

Another insulation method calls for the use of sprayed foam polyurethane. The big appeal of this insulation type is that it does not intrude on the living space to any real degree, so if you’re intending to use the attic as a finished room, this would be a good choice, especially since in this case, the actual insulation is done to the roof, not the attic. The polyurethane molds itself to every part of the roof’s interior, creating a highly effective barrier between inside and outside, with great retention properties. The downside of this method would probably be its higher cost, which runs as much as twice the cost of an ordinary insulation strategy.

Level of insulation

While the appropriate level of insulation varies across climatic regions, a good rule of thumb is insulating to R-50 or R-60 for a high degree of retention. If you have existing insulation, you need only insulate to the difference between R-50 and what you already have, and for all new insulation you’d need the full amount. For further guidance on how much insulation to install in your geographic area of the country, consult your local heating and cooling contractor.

Common Causes of HVAC Failure

An older air conditioning unit that might be failing and in need of a repair.

As is the case with any complex mechanical system, your home’s HVAC system is comprised of a number of components which all have to be functioning well in order for this system as a whole to perform smoothly and efficiently. When all these components are well-maintained and functioning properly, so will your HVAC unit be functioning properly. This is important to you because of the comfort and indoor air quality the system provides, as well as for its ability to keep energy bills lower.

When something goes wrong with your HVAC system in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, or Gilbert, your first call should be to Simply the Best Heating and Cooling, so service can be restored promptly and effectively. The following reasons for failure are among the most common with HVAC units in general, so when your system isn’t working right, chances are it will be for one of these reasons. Check these first before making a call to the professionals.

Dirty filters

If this is the only thing wrong with your HVAC unit, it’s an inexpensive fix to make. Filters should really be changed monthly during peak seasons of warmth or cold, so that all trapped pollutants can be discarded, and not recirculated throughout the home. When filters are not regularly changed, they make an HVAC unit work twice as hard, because the pollutants create a barrier which hinders airflow.

Improperly balanced dampers

Most ductwork systems in homes terminate at individual rooms, and have dampers in the main supply line which act to control airflow throughout the ducts. When dampers are not properly balanced, some rooms may be heated or cooled much faster than others, but when dampers are properly balanced, all rooms are equally heated and cooled.

Broken thermostat

Broken thermostats are the root cause of far more HVAC system failures than you might think, and fortunately, this is one of the simplest and least expensive repairs you can make on your heating or cooling system. The only bad thing about the thermostat being the culprit for so many problems, is that it’s usually not obvious to the occupants, and requires the knowledge and experience of a professional to uncover.

Leaking refrigerant

This is a common problem with air-conditioning units, and it can cause either poor performance, or no performance at all if the problem is bad enough. Condenser units in your air conditioner require a refrigerant in order to cool incoming air for your home, and when there isn’t enough refrigerant in the system, there’s no way for the air conditioner to function correctly. With low refrigerant levels, the condenser works harder than it’s meant to, and that creates additional problems, which can lead to a complete breakdown.

Breaker was tripped

When your HVAC unit won’t function at all, there’s a possibility that the circuit breaker was tripped, and the breaker provides the flow of electricity which powers the unit. You may be able to restore power by resetting the breaker, but there’s also a chance that some other problem caused the breaker to trip in the first place. If resetting the breaker solves the problem, then it may have just been a fluke, but if the breaker trips again, the safest thing to do is contact a professional electrician.

Dangers of Reusing Air Conditioning Filters

This clogged air filter could lead to a dangerous situation for your home HVAC system.

There are certain kinds of air conditioning filters which are specially constructed to be reusable, but unless you are certain that the air filters in your cooling system are of this type, you should not assume that it’s safe to clean and reuse them at maintenance time. Unless your filters are purposely built for reuse, you should simply remove them from their place in the cabinet, discard them, and put brand-new ones in place.

New air filters can be purchased at home improvement shops or from your local HVAC contractor, and if you’re the kind of person who’s uncomfortable with doing home maintenance, you can even have your HVAC repair technician in Gilbert, Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, or Mesa do it safely for you. Here’s why it’s important to not reuse ordinary filters.

Cleaning is inadequate

From one maintenance period to the next, your air conditioning filters trap a great many kinds of contaminants and other debris, and these particles are often trapped well below the surface, in the fibers of the filter. No amount of surface cleaning or vacuuming is going to touch the dust, pollen, and dirt particles at this inner portion of the filter. Instead, these pollutants will create a kind of barrier which prevents the passage of air through the filter, thus making your air conditioner less efficient, or possibly even damaging it.

Mold and mildew might develop

Your cleaning efforts may leave the surface area of an air filter wet, because they are not built to shed any of the moisture that gets on them. Since the moisture is retained over a period of time, it can easily promote the growth of mold or mildew, which would then be passed on to every room of your home where the duct work carries it. Even if mold and mildew do not develop, a wet filter is far less efficient at trapping pollutants than a dry one.

Handling is bad for filters

Cleaning efforts may be well-intentioned, but they can easily damage the integrity of the filter’s construction. For instance, slapping the filter against a hard surface to remove visible dirt and debris can cause damage all by itself. Attempting to pick things out of the filter can also compromise the somewhat delicate construction of the fibers, and if you should tear a hole somewhere in the fibers, the filter simply cannot be as efficient or effective as it originally was.

Reusable filters

While it is safe to clean and re-install filters designed for re-usability, it should be remembered that in order for them to be really effective, they should be cleaned frequently, even as much as every month. When they’re not being cleaned often, all the particles which they extract from the indoor air, slowly begin to clog the filter and reduce its efficiency – which means the longer the time between cleanings, the less efficient will be your air conditioner.

Lady laying in the sun and sweaty.

6 Signs Your AC Unit Needs To Be Replaced

On average, air conditioning units last between 10-15 years. When you first make the investment, a decade or longer feels like a long time. It goes by fast, though, and some AC units won’t make it much longer than the 10 years.

In many cases, air conditioning units start showing signs of wear and tear before they need to be replaced. There are those unfortunate homeowners who wake up one day to no air, but usually, there are things that start happening. By recognizing what these signs are, you can prepare yourself for the purchase of a new AC system.

Let’s explore six signs that your air conditioning is on its last leg.

1. No Cold Air

At some point, your air conditioning might stop blowing out cold air. If your AC system isn’t old, it could be an issue with the thermostat or a failed compressor. If you’re just coming off the winter and turning on your central air for the first time, your system might need Freon. But it’s also possible that you could need a new AC installation in Gilbert.

2. Weak Air Flow

If there is little air flow coming through your vents, this is a cause for concern. A common reason for this is a failing compressor. Though compressors are expensive, they are worth fixing if your AC unit is newer.

If you notice that some rooms are receiving cold air while others are not, it’s probably something with your ductwork. Over time, debris can get stuck in your ducts and obstruct airflow. If this is the case, a good ductwork cleaning should do the trick. Plus, you and your family can enjoy better health.

3. Thermostat Problems

The thermostat controls the temperature in the home, so if your rooms aren’t being adequately cooled, it could be with the thermostat rather than the unit itself. One way to tell if this is the case is if some rooms are cold while others have the same temperature. Don’t forget to replace the batteries, too!

4. Moisture in Unusual Places

Moisture or water leaks around your AC unit is can indicate a potential problem. It might be refrigerant leaking, which can cause serious health effects to you and your family. Small pools of water may indicate that the drain tube is clogged or broken. While this isn’t a serious, urgent issue, it should be addressed by an AC service in Gilbert sooner than later.

5. Strange Noises

Air conditioning units have to work hard in Arizona, so you might hear some unusual sounds from this increased production. However, sounds like squealing, grating or grinding may indicate that something is wrong inside the unit.

Fortunately, not all noises are necessarily a sign of something serious. Squealing, for instance, may just be telling you that a part in your AC unit needs more lubrication. This can be taken care of quickly and affordably.

6. Odd Smells

A foul smell coming from your air conditioning vents may mean that the unit’s wire insulation has gone bad. A musty smell usually means that there is mold inside the ductwork. Since mold can have adverse health effects, it’s important to call an HVAC service in Gilbert to clean out your ducts. The smell will be gone, and you can enjoy a cleaner home.

For quality, dependable air conditioning care for your home, call Simply The Best AC. We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and NO weekend or evening charges!

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/AnnaFernandez