Below are some tips, advice and maintenance guidelines for your outdoor air conditioner and/or heat pump. These tips are for better efficiency, longer life, and easier service.
Most of the information here applies to both air conditioners and heat pumps. But read carefully, some of the information is for one or the other. If you follow any of these tips make sure you know if you have a heat pump or an air conditioner or damage could result.
TIPS FOR BETTER EFFICIENCY:
1 – Set thermostat at one temperature. Constant adjusting can cause higher utility costs. If using your thermostat as a setback type, limit the setbacks to twice a day such as when you are at work and when you are sleeping. Only setback the thermostat 6% of desired temperature (approximately five degrees).
In heating, try not to set the thermostat below 65 degrees or above 75 degrees. Below 65 degrees a heat pump just won’t put out enough heat and above 75 degrees is using too much energy. In cooling, try not to set the thermostat below 70 degrees. Besides higher utility costs, this can cause the indoor coil to freeze and cause condensation in the house.
2 – Keep coils clean. If they get dirty you can use a heavy duty degreaser and hose them down. Just turn the unit off first.
3 – Don’t stack things on top of the unit. If the fan is on the top the air-flow cannot be restricted. Do not put your rolled-up garden hose or landscaping products on the unit. We see this all the time.
4 – When mowing the lawn, direct the mower away from the unit. A coil blocked with grass clippings and debris drastically reduces the efficiency.
5 – When using a weed whacker be careful near the unit. Debris can damage the coil, flatten the aluminum fins, and cut the thermostat wires; shorting out the transformer. We see this all the time and it is an expensive repair bill.
COMMON SENSE TIPS:
1 – Don’t plant prickly bushes like roses or holly around the unit. No one will want to service it.
2 – Don’t grow a garden or plant exotic flowers around the outdoor unit and expect the service technician to tip-toe around everything.
3 – When planting shrubs don’t block the access panels or the coil. Plan to keep 18 to 30 inches around the unit. Don’t forget to plan for the growth of the shrubs five, ten, even fifteen years down the road.
4 – Many people like to completely hide the outdoor unit behind shrubs. If you do this don’t be surprised if the technician refuses to service the unit. Please have some consideration and leave a path wide enough to accommodate the tech and his tools and room to work.
5 – Having crushed stone around the unit is best. It allows for good drainage, keeps the unit level and from sinking, keeps the coils clean from washed-up grass and dirt and also keeps the service technicians shoes clean. This will also keep your floors and carpeting clean.
6 – If building a fence around the unit allow for room to service, even replace the unit. If any major repairs need to be made, the service man may need access to all sides on the unit. Don’t expect the service tech to have to jump or climb over a fence. The unit needs to be serviced regularly. Install a gate that can be easily opened. We constantly see fences with out gates and the customer expects the tech to unbolt the fence and then re-install it when he is finished. Very Inconsiderate.
HEAT PUMPS ONLY:
1 – Keep snow, ice, and leaves away from the outdoor unit. This includes the top, sides, and bottom.
2 – Make it a habit to look at the outdoor heat pump during the winter months for signs of excessive ice or snow build-up on or around the heat pump. Especially after bad weather.
If the unit is covered in ice or snow it must be removed for it to work properly. Turn the thermostat to Emergency heat or off and remove the snow and ice. You can pour warm or hot water over the unit to melt the snow and ice. Even cold water from a hose will help. Do not use any sharp objects to pick or knock the ice off the coils of the heat pump. This could cause severe damage and personal injury. Once the unit is clear of snow and ice turn the thermostat back to normal heating. If the unit ices up again, call for service.
3 – Do not let the outdoor unit sit underneath a leaking gutter. In the winter months, water will drip on the top of the unit and freeze solid. This will restrict the air flow and cause the whole unit to freeze-up.
4 – Heat Pumps should be elevated 4 to 8 inches above ground level to keep coils clear of snow and ice and to allow for proper drainage. Contact our Service Department if you would like your unit raised.
AIR CONDITIONERS ONLY:
1 – Cover the outdoor unit including top and sides in the fall and winter when the air conditioner is not in use. Great for areas with lots of trees where falling branches can damage the unit. Also keeps heavy ice from bending the fan blades and hale from damaging the coil.
Caution, this is for air conditioners only, not heat pumps and make sure the unit is off. Do not attempt to run the air conditioning with the outdoor unit covered. Also remember to remove the cover in Spring before turning on the air.