Simple maintenance may save major dollars at home


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Some of the costliest home repairs are ones that could easily be prevented with simple maintenance steps.

Spring cleaning season meets a recession—what better time to take care of some often-overlooked household cleaning tasks that can save you big bucks in the long run?

Some of the costliest repairs are ones that could easily be prevented with simple maintenance steps.

Take your home’s heating and air conditioning system. When was the last time you had your cooling coils cleaned? If you’re not even sure what part of the system the coils are, where they’re located or if they’ve ever been cleaned at all, spring is a good time to take care of this important maintenance item.

Doing so can help extend the life of your system and ensure it’s functioning at peak efficiency.

“The cooling coils take the heat and humidity out of the air,” said Aaron Marshbanks, a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, and a heating-and -cooling industry professional with 15 years experience.

“The coils are essentially the connection point between your air conditioning system and the air in your home.”

Cooling coils, which resemble a car radiator, are typically located on top of or inside the air handling unit in the mechanical room.

Over time, household dust and air contaminants including fabric particles, skin cells, animal dander and other debris collect on the coils.

While your furnace filter will reduce debris —assuming you keep the filters clean—it’s impossible to completely eliminate it, and what gets through will end up on the coils.

“When that happens, two problems arise over time,” Marshbanks says. “First, the build-up restricts the flow of air through the unit and decreases its ability to effectively remove heat from the air.

“Second, it makes the equipment work harder and longer to get air into your house. So the air handler runs and runs, and the unit consumes more energy and produces less comfort.”

If the unit has to run 25 percent longer to produce the desired results, you’ll actually be shortening its usable life by 25 percent, he points out. And the cost of repairing or replacing a faulty heating and cooling unit far exceeds the cost of having the coils cleaned.

While coils may not need to be cleaned annually, they should be inspected every year. It’s best to leave the inspection and any necessary cleaning to a trained professional, Marshbank advises.

The configuration of some units may make it difficult to examine and clean the coils without removing them from the unit. Plus, improper cleaning can actually damage the coils.

“And you shouldn’t assume your coils are being cleaned or even inspected regularly just because you have a service contract with a heating and cooling company,” he adds.

Many companies do not include that service as part of their regular maintenance routine.

NADCA offers a certified professional locator on its Web page to help consumers find qualified technicians in their area.

NADCA members must pass a rigorous certification exam and complete regular training in order to earn and maintain the association’s certification.

When evaluating a company to inspect and clean your coils, be sure to ask how long the company has been in business, the average experience level of its service people and what their regular service includes.

To learn more about NADCA certified professionals or to find one in your area, visit www.NADCA.com.

—Courtesy of ARAcontent


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