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Preventive Tips for Heating & Air Conditioning

Although regular check-ups will not absolutely guarantee that a unit will continue to work perfectly, they will reveal most small problems that can lead to major, far more expensive problems if left unattended.

Dirty Filter

Without a clean filter your unit cannot operate properly and its life will be shortened. Dirty filters can cause you to use extra electricity, cause your unit to break down and need costly repairs and shorten the life of your unit.

Replace your filter when it is dirty, remember there is no set amount of time between replacements. Visually inspect the filter and if it has a film of dirt on the entire surface then it's time to replace it.

If you have the reusable type of filter clean it with soap and water (or the cleaner recommended by the manufacturer) and remember to wash the clean side of the filter so you don't just wash the dirt deeper into the filters core.

Remember if you're washing a reusable filter to let it dry completely before reinstalling it. Always keep your unit off while the filter is not in place.


Freon Levels

Spring is a generally mild season. It's also the ideal time to budget a bit for an air conditioning tune-up.

Done now, it can prevent many small problems from becoming big, expensive problems later. Air Conditioner maintenance tips:

  1. Have the Freon Level checked at least once a year.
    1. Low freon levels reduce efficiency of the air conditioner.
    2. They can freeze the evaporator coil, causing it to literally ice up.
    3. Freon is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) controlled substance, deemed hazardous if released into the environment.
    4. The heart of the unit is the compressor, which is cooled by the refrigerant. Over time, low freon levels can cause overheating and premature failure of the compressor, often requiring complete replacement of the compressor or the entire condensing unit, A very expensive proposition.

Facts & Myths

Myth:

Changing the filter in your unit each month is too often.

Fact:

A dirty filter can account for a 10% - 15% increase in your electric bill each month. Dirty air filters cause the unit to work harder to pull clean air through meaning that there is a risk of damage and resistance. Cleaning about once a month will help both the unit and your bill.

Image of a dirty filter
Example of a Dirty Air Filter

Myth:

Closing off vents will reduce your Heating Bill

Fact:

The most energy efficient practice you can do is to have heat evenly distributed throughout the house. Blocking vents in certain rooms will make these rooms colder, and will draw heat from other rooms causing you to raise the thermostat.

Myth:

Turning up the Thermostat will make it cool or warm faster

Fact:

It's tempting to think the wider you open it the more come out. In reality, it works in a set pace and changing the thermostat only means that it will take a longer or shorter amount of time to get to the set temperature.

Preventive Tips for Electrical

This page was designed to motivate customers to the seriousness of electrical dangers. We have included statistics, images, and additional links to ensure that this topic is fully covered.

Both Residential and Commercial electrical fires claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and defective appliances; many are caused by electrical repairs by “inexperienced” persons.

Mainly fires are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, overloaded circuits, overloaded extension cords, And by reducing the quality of workmanship in attempt to “save money” with a contractor in a Repair or Installation Project.

During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.


For more information please visit: www.FEMA.gov

Preventing Fires

You can keep your home free of Dangerous Electrical Fires by following these Safety Tips:

  1. Don't overload your electrical circuits.
  2. If you have an older home 20+ Years, have the internal wiring checked to make sure it meets current building codes.
  3. Turn off appliances when not in use.
  4. If an appliance generates heat (like toasters, kettles, space heaters, irons, etc.) unplug it when not in use.
  5. Use only appliances listed by Underwriter Laboratories (UL) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
  6. Always use the proper fuses in your home. Don't use higher amperage than recommended. Never use foreign objects like pennies or wires instead of a fuse.
  7. Never reset a breaker more than 2 times a Month as this is an indication of a possible hazard.
  8. Clean and service your heating systems and furnaces at least once a year.
  9. While they can make the room you occupy warmer and more comfortable, space heaters need special handling:
    1. Don't leave portable space heaters unattended.
    2. Don't place portable space heaters in doorways or stairways.
    3. Keep portable space heaters well away from upholstery, drapes, and other combustible materials.
    4. Don't add fuel to a gas-powered portable heater while it's on or hot.
Image: Burnt Outlet
This image is courtesy of Stephen Feather. Click here to read his story.

Did you know?

An Arc Flash also known as a “Short Circuit” can rise to temperatures of up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, Four times hotter than the surface of the Sun. The resulting “Short Circuit” vaporizes metal and ionizes the air, causing second-degree to third-degree burns.

Image of an 'Arch Flash'
An Arch Flash in action.

Electricity, at the voltage commonly found in U.S Households (120 Volts) Kills more people a year than any other voltage. (Ventricular Fibrillation) Electricity enters the body causing nerve and tissue damage, also passing through the heart causing very rapid irregular contractions of the muscle fibers that result in the heartbeat and pulse going out of rhythm with each other.

The information was compiled using information from:
  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • ESA's Practical Solution Guide to Arc Flash Hazard
  • Article: Preventing Arc Flash Incidents in the Workplace EC&M magazine -Electrical Construction & Maintenance By: George Gregory (2003.)
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