Frequently Asked Questions
If You’ve Got Questions. We’ve Got Answers!
With the proper maintenance and care, your American Standard equipment will operate economically and dependably. There are a few simple, routine maintenance operations you can do to help ensure the best performance and comfort from your system.
Before you perform any kind of maintenance, consider these important safety precautions.
- Disconnect all electrical power to the unit before removing access panels to perform maintenance. Please note that there may be more than one power connection switch.
- Although American Standard takes special care to prevent sharp edges in the construction of our equipment, it’s best to be very careful when you handle parts or reach into units.
Check the air filter in your furnace or fan coil every 3 to 4 weeks. A dirty filter will cause excessive strain on your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Replace your filter when necessary, or clean it if you have the reusable type. (If you have a reusable filter, make sure it’s completely dry before you re-install it.) The prefilter and collection cells of an electronic air cleaner should be cleaned at least two or three times per year.
Clean dust off of your indoor coil. With a vacuum cleaner and soft-brush attachment, you can remove any dust from the top and underside of the coil. Make sure you only do this when the coil is dry. If you can’t get the coil clean this way, call your dealer for service.
Keep your outdoor condensing unit free of debris. If you keep grass clippings, leaves, shrubbery and debris away from your outdoor unit, it should only require minimal care to operate properly. Check the base pan (under the unit) occasionally and remove debris, to help the unit drain correctly.
If the outdoor coil becomes dirty, use a brush or a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to clean the surface. To clean dirt that is deep in the coil, contact your dealer.
Take special care of outdoor condensing units in ocean environments. If your unit is located near a sea coast, you can help preserve its optimal condition with a little extra care. Ocean mist and sea breezes carry salt, which is corrosive to most metals. Although new American Standard units are made out of galvanized metal and are protected by top-grade paint, you can add life to your unit by washing all exposed surfaces and the coil approximately every three months. (Ask your installing contractor about the appropriate interval in your area.)
Make sure your outdoor unit stays in a level position. If the support for your split-system outdoor unit shifts or settles and the unit is no longer level, re-level it promptly to make sure moisture drains properly out of the unit. If you notice that water or ice collects beneath the unit, arrange for it to be drained away from the equipment.
Inspect your furnace’s combustion area and vent system before each heating season. If you find dirt, soot or rust, your system may not operate properly or at its peak efficiency. Call your servicing dealer and do not operate your furnace until it is professionally inspected and/or repaired.
Have oil-fired boilers inspected annually. Call your servicing dealer before each heating season to replace your oil filter cartridge and conduct a thorough inspection of the unit’s operation.
Clean your humidifier at the beginning of every heating season. Review your owner’s manual for the proper procedure to clean the external and internal components of your unit. The evaporator pad should also be replaced before each heating season. If the water in your area is hard or has high mineral content, you may need to clean or service your humidifier more frequently.
Clean the core and air filters on a ventilator at least every three months. You can vacuum the core of an energy recovery ventilator as long as it is dry and the outdoor temperature is between 60 F (16 C) and 75 F (24 C). Heat recovery ventilator cores can be soaked for three hours in a solution of warm water and mild soap and then rinsed. Ventilator air filters are washable: just use a vacuum to remove the heaviest accumulation of dust and then wash them in lukewarm water. Replace them after they are completely dry.
Think about how you take care of your car. Sure, most people can handle the little stuff – checking and topping off fluids, keeping tires inflated to the correct pressure, changing the wiper blades. But, to keep your car operating at its best, you need an occasional tune-up from a trained professional.
Your heating and cooling system is no different. To get the most performance and longest life from your system, it’s a good idea to have a professional perform routine checks in the spring and in the fall.
In the spring, your dealer will typically check a heat pump or air conditioner for all or some of the following:
- operating pressures
- refrigerant charge
- filter condition
- fan motor
- crankcase heaters
- coils cleaning
- lubrication of moving parts
In the fall, you can expect a dealer to check your furnace in the following areas:
- burner and pilot assemblies
- cracks in the heat exchanger
- check the pilot thermocouple
- examine the filter and check vent piping
- test the electronic ignition
- test the fan
- test the limit switch
- burner adjustments
- measure manifold gas pressure
- measure temperature rise
- carbon monoxide test
- set the heat anticipator
- check and adjust belt tension
- examine the draft diverter
- lubricate the fan motor
The answer is, “Yes.”
Here are some simple procedures you can perform before going to the expense of a service call:
- Check disconnect switches. (indoor and outdoor if you have a split system). Make sure that circuit breakers are ON or that fuses have not blown.
- Check for sufficient airflow. Make sure air filters are clean and that supply-air and return-air grilles are open and unobstructed.
- Check the settings on your thermostat. If you want cooling, make sure the temperature control selector is set below room temperature and the SYSTEM switch is on the COOL or AUTO position. If you want heat, make sure the temperature control selector is set above room temperature and the SYSTEM switch is at HEAT or AUTO. The FAN switch should be set at ON for continuous blower operation or AUTO if you want the blower to function only while the unit is operating.
In addition to the routine maintenance you perform, your home comfort system should be inspected at least once a year by a properly trained service technician. Your servicing dealer will make sure your system operates safely and gives you the best performance at the lowest cost. You may also want to ask your dealer about an economical service contract that covers seasonal inspections for a flat fee.
Three main factors to consider are:
- Life expectancy
- Operating cost
- Looking at the big picture
Life Expectancy of Current System. When you’re frustrated with an equipment break-down, it can be tempting to find the least expensive “quick fix” to get on with your life in relative comfort. That “quick fix” may be the least expensive now, but it may not give you the most value ‘or cost you the least ‘ in the long run.
Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. It’s almost like putting a bandage on a serious injury. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again … and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system.
Operating Cost. There’s also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won’t save on your energy bills.
Even six-year-old heat pumps and air conditioners are considered grossly inefficient by today’s energy efficiency standards. So are most furnaces built before 1980. So you could save up to 60% on your energy bills with new high-efficiency equipment. That’s why installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.
Looking at the Big Picture. When one component of your system breaks down unexpectedly, it’s easy to just focus on repairing or replacing that component. But each part of your system works with the others to boost efficiency and reliability, so it helps to keep the big picture in mind.
Replacing your old furnace with a new higher-efficiency model but leaving your old mechanical thermostat in place, for example, won’t allow you to enjoy all the efficiency advantages the furnace has to offer. Likewise, if you install a new furnace but don’t get a humidifier, the air may seem cooler, forcing you to operate your new system at a higher temperature to be comfortable. Plus, you can often save on installation costs if you have several components of your system (for example, a furnace and an air conditioner) replaced at the same time.