What can the homeowner do to keep down repair costs?

One of the most important features in any home is the air conditioning and heating system, also called the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. People do not usually think about their furnace or air conditioner until that equipment stops working. Then, fixing them become the most important thing on the "to do" list. There are a few simple things a home owner can do to help prevent having to call a repairman.

The Filter
The best place to start is at the inlet of your system. A high-quality filter in an easily accessible location is the best arrangement to ensure that your air system stays clean inside.
The dust and allergens that can accumulate in an unfiltered return air line can become a breeding ground for dust mites and the cause of many respiratory irritations. If you have an unfiltered return air duct, call an HVAC contractor to install a properly sized filter-grille.
When choosing a filter, remember that if you can see through it, dust and crud can get through it easily. Pleated media filters are better than spun fiberglass ones. Filters should be changed every 30 to 60 days depending on the amount of fan run time. A visual inspection should tell you whether or not the filter is dirty. Write the date on the filter every time you change it to help you keep track.

The Drain

A serviceable heat-pump drain.

Air conditioning or heat pump systems make water; in fact, some systems can make up to a gallon of water in just two hours. Ceilings have been ruined by water that did not drain properly from systems located in an attic, and repairs can be costly. It is important that the drain for your HVAC system is arranged in a serviceable way.

Included is a drawing of the proper arrangement for a serviceable drain. "A" is the air conditioner cabinet, "B" is a short drain outlet and "C" is a removable cap to insert a cut piece of 5/8-inch water hose. With a strong blow of air, you can clear most clogs, or use a wet/dry shop vac. On the illustration, "D" is the "trap" to be filled with a 50% bleach/water solution to keep the unit from drawing sewer gas into the return air side of the A/C unit. "E" is an open vent that helps prevent gurgling bubbles, which may hinder drainage. Notice that "F" is lower than "B."

Zone Information: Air Conditioning and Heating Zone Control
The greatest hidden secret in residential air conditioning is the use of Zone Control. Like the lights in your home, you flip a switch to bring on a light and then you turn it off when you leave the room to save energy. We are so geared to shut off lights when we are not using them but then we let our air conditioning system run wild all over the house.

Why cool or heat a space to a comfort level you are not using at the time? That's a lot of wasted energy. Well with zoning your home you can save energy and fix any hot or cold spot in your home. It is absolutely amazing, but only if it is done right and when the contractor uses the right quality zone controlling equipment.