HVAC Equipment Hazards: A Guide to HVAC Safety
Generally, homeowners can perform some HVAC maintenance tasks such as changing the air filter, cleaning vents and registers and clearing the vegetation around the outdoor condenser. However, there are certain tasks that should be left up to the professionals. When handled improperly, HVAC equipment can malfunction, cause issues like fires, carbon monoxide leaks and worsen your indoor air quality. That’s why it’s important for both HVAC contractors and homeowners to be aware of the risks HVAC equipment can pose. To help you become more aware, the pros at Mattioni have created a guide to HVAC safety, with a list of helpful tips on how you can best handle your HVAC unit.
1. You Need a License to Handle Refrigerant
Refrigerant, more commonly known as Freon, is a cooling agent in your HVAC unit. It is an important component of your HVAC system and is necessary in providing the cooling that you need. However, refrigerant is also an incredibly dangerous chemical and must not be handled by anyone without a license. Only professional HVAC technicians with the proper licensing and professional training can deal with refrigerant. If you are a homeowner and you notice refrigerant is leaking from your unit (hissing, AC blowing warm air are some signs of a leak), call a professional HVAC technician immediately. A professional can add refrigerant to your unit as well as repair the leak.
Fun fact: Properly handling refrigerant is so important that it is actually required by law that a licensed professional handle it.
2. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
You have probably heard many horror stories of carbon monoxide; the deadly, odorless, colorless gas that has caused many illnesses and fatalities. While some of these stories might have been exaggerated, the threat carbon monoxide should be taken seriously. It can most definitely be fatal and it’s important to protect yourself and your family from any carbon monoxide leaks. Sometimes, carbon monoxide leaks can be caused by malfunctioning heating systems and ventilation problems. In case a carbon monoxide leak from your HVAC unit does occur, it’s best to have carbon monoxide detectors. These devices, which can be found in your local home improvement store will notify you of a leak so you can make informed decisions that will your family safe.
3. Schedule Annual Maintenance
The best way you can prevent the leaks we mentioned above, as well as any other kind of system malfunction, is to schedule annual maintenance. Maintenance checks might appear a bit expensive, but contractors often offer discounts, maintenance plans and other financing options to help out customers. Annual maintenance checks can prevent dangerous and pricey issues in the future and can be beneficial for your system long-term. Professional maintenance checks are also able to tune-up parts and components of your HVAC system that you might not be able to reach or handle on your own. So, if you want your HVAC unit to perform properly and safely, it is best to schedule an annual (or even bi-annual) maintenance check.
Pro tip: You can schedule maintenance or HVAC service during the off seasons such as the fall and spring in order to access discounts and limited-time-only coupons!
4. Teach HVAC Safety to Children
It’s important that your kids know about HVAC and electrical safety as well. Take the time to teach them what they can and cannot touch. For example, when they are outside, make it very clear that they should not touch the outdoor condenser. There are refrigerant lines behind the condenser and if there are leaks, your kids could be exposed to Freon. If you have particularly small children you can childproof some areas of your home, so they don’t mess with anything potentially dangerous such as wiring, outlets and other appliances. Areas with heating and cooling equipment should be a NO KIDS zone, so make sure your children are aware of that.
5. A Clogged Filter Could Pose a Fire Hazard
One of the basics of HVAC safety and maintenance is to consistently change your air filter. It takes a few minutes, but it can make a world of difference. A clean air filter can improve your indoor air quality, reduce your energy consumption by 5 to 15 % and extend the life of your unit. On the other hand, a clogged filter can worsen your indoor air quality, cause dust and dander build up in your home, force your unit to work overtime and even create a fire hazard. Since a clogged filter can reduce proper air flow, this can cause a system malfunction which can lead to a ventilation fire. Not only will this heavily damage your HVAC system, it will pose a great danger to you and your family.
To prevent this from happening, take a few minutes every month to change your air filter!
6. Professional Repairs and Installation
This goes without saying but it’s still important homeowners know this. Whether you need to replace your entire unit, or you need to replace some equipment, it’s important you consult a professional. A professional, reliable HVAC technician will be able to suggest the right model and right type of equipment. The last thing you want to do is purchase an unreliable piece of equipment that might make things worse for your system.
7. Make Sure Your Air Ducts Are Clean
Your air ducts should be free of dust, debris, dander, pests and mold. All of these allergens can worsen your indoor air quality, increase your discomfort and even cause health problems down the line. If you notice a musty smell coming from your vents, you might need to have your air ducts cleaned. The air you breathe makes its way through your ductwork frequently, so it is important to make sure it’s clean and free of pollutants!