Every year we get the same calls from people who turned on the heating system, and nothing was hot. Only in May, it’s “I turned my air conditioning, and it’s not blowing or it’s blowing hot air or it’s very low on pressure”.
Getting a pro to start up your air conditioning and heating system at the beginning of every heating and cooling season avoids problems. This past winter has been especially tough on outdoor equipment. These ultra-low negative temperature spikes, along with the extended times below freezing, can affect your home air conditioning system’s Spring startup. But with a few checks and a little effort, you can help to ensure a trouble-free summer cooling season. Call a pro at Muccia Plumbing at 201-343-1414
Spring HVAC Startup Checklist: Here are eight important things Muccia Plumbing techs check BEFORE switching the wall thermostat to cool.
First, we start with the outdoor unit:
1. We inspect the outdoor unit panels: These panels are designed to enclose the electrical connections and must be in place to help protect both you and the system. If you are missing a panel (possibly due to wind) or if the panel is misaligned, this could cause potential risks for both you and the operation of the equipment. If the panel covering the electrical connections is missing or out of place you can rely on Muccia to take care of it BEFORE before starting your system.
2. Our qualified techs remove any condenser covers, coil blankets or lids: If we find the outdoor coil covered in order to protect it during the winter months, we’ll remove the cover before starting the system. These covers protect and insulate the coil, but also limit any heat transfer. Starting the system with any of these covers in place, even for a short time, could severely damage your system. Many people forget to remove their covers every year, often resulting in major repairs or even replacement of the whole system.
3. We will inspect, repair or replace any damaged pipe insulation. The suction line (the larger copper pipe on the outdoor unit) helps to supply cool refrigerant back to the compressor in the outdoor unit. If the system’s suction pipe has damaged insulation, this could cause a loss of required cooling for the outdoor unit which could damage your system and may also cause you to lose energy as well. Damage to the foam insulation can be caused by sun rot, freezing water trapped in the foam or winter animals looking for shelter or food. The insulation should be intact to maintain system cooling. If the insulation needs replacing, we do so before starting the unit. We ensure that the insulation is the correct size for the pipe size (5/8, 3/4, 7/8, etc.). As with all our parts, we purchase ours from plumbing supply houses that exceed the quality of the kind you’d find in a home improvement center or a local hardware store :
4. Depending on where you live or what side of the house your system is located on, we will look for any debris that may have landed against the coil. The system coils are designed to transfer heat, and any debris limits this effect. To get the best possible performance from your system, our technicians will remove this debris from the coil and surrounding area. Also, while mulching in the spring, take care to not pack mulch around the base of the unit.
Next, we’ll move to inspect the indoor unit:
5. Change the air filters: Now we’ll replace your indoor air filters. This winter has probably caused your furnace to run a lot more than previous winters. It’s likely that your indoor air filter will have gathered a lot more debris and dust than normal, so we’ll automatically change the interior filter, sure the airflow is going in the correct direction.
6. We next check the coil drainage hose: This hose (usually plastic) can also be called the “condensate line”. Since the coil’s temperature is lower than the ambient air, water will condense on the coil and drip into the tray below. This condensate needs to flow to a drain or the tray will fill up and flood the unit or potentially spill water into your basement. With the amount of time spent indoors this past winter due to the Nor’Easters affecting most of Bergen County, it’s possible the line may have moved. We check to make sure the line is in the proper place, attached, and will drain to the appropriate location.
7. Clean the supply vents and return grills: We’ll make sure that both the supply and return air grills and vents are open and free of debris. Some houses have separate winter and summer supply grills, or house zoning and some even have separate systems – one for heating and one for cooling. If you have a system like this you might have put extra plastic material over the AC vents to prevent drafts during the cold winter months. If so, it is important to remove these before you turn on the AC or you will not have proper air flow back through the system and this could cause severe damage. In general, cleaning all grills at the beginning of every season is a part of our complete startup.
8. Turn it on and make sure it works: Wait for a nice, hot day when you have some time to check the air coming out of the indoor vents for the first few minutes after starting it, and then every few hours throughout the day. After the first few minutes, you should feel cool air coming out of the registers. If no air is coming out, or if the air coming out does not feel cool, then something is wrong and you should immediately turn the system off at the thermostat. Contact Muccia Plumbing immediately. we’ll do an in-depth inspection and diagnose the problem which likely didn’t present itself during out startup inspection. Remember to turn it off. Leaving the system turned on when it’s not running properly can do a lot of expensive damage.
In summary, a brief inspection of your system now could help keep your system running worry free through the heat of the summer and fall and is especially important for older systems. While performing this general inspection, take note of the overall system health in order to assess the likelihood of a problem. Whether your system is old or new, it can endure a particularly harsh season. A qualified technician from Muccia Plumbing is trained to do a more thorough spring technical inspection to avoid a system failure in the hottest months of the year. Summer is just around the corner and no one knows your house better than you. If air conditioning is a necessity due to your lifestyle or geographical location, then be sure to get a professional’s opinion before time runs out.
Our Final Checklist:
1. Inspect outdoor unit panels – make sure they are all in place
2. Remove any unit covers or coil blankets from the outdoor unit
3. Repair or replace damaged or missing pipe insulation
4. Remove any leaves or debris from the outdoor unit coils
5. Change the indoor air filters
6. Check the indoor drainage hose
7. Clean the supply vents and air return grills
8. Make sure your system is working properly on startup and throughout the first day (and turn it off immediately if it is not working!)
Please don’t wait for July or even June. Now is the time to run our complete tests and replace and parts that need replacing. Get it scheduled by calling Muccia Plumbing at 201-343-1414