How Frequently Should I Replace My Home’s Air Filter?

We are a family owned and operated residential and light commercial HVAC contractor based in Canton. We are committed to giving each customer the best service possible at a fair market price. We strive to live and work with the highest standard of honesty and integrity, never leave a customer unhappy with our services, and only perform the services that are required to meet each customer’s needs so there’s no reason to go into a Georgia summer unprepared.

When you take your car to get an oil change, one part of their service is usually to disclose current and potential problems discovered when inspecting the engine. Making affordable and necessary adjustments now that could save you from expensive, unexpected expenses in the future will actually save you money. Before each cooling season, it is recommended that central air conditioners get a professional tune-up. This is the biggest step to preventing major malfunctions in an A/C unit. R & D Mechanical Services, Inc.’s Preventative Maintenance Agreement includes a complete visual system inspection and documented system recommendations to aid in minimizing future complications with the performance and operation of your HVAC system.

You can think of HVAC efficiency in terms of Miles per Gallon (MPG). By “maintaining” your car with the recommended tire pressure, oil changes, and other engine tune-up procedures, its MPG is optimized. Your home’s HVAC system is the same. Having Seasonal Preventative Maintenances performed on your HVAC systems optimizes your home’s “fuel” efficiency and reduces your electrical consumption.

Probably the most important step that can be done by a homeowner is to clean or replace the HVAC system’s air filter every three months. Do not run the unit with the filter removed. Check the owner’s manual for filter cleaning procedure. Let a washed filter dry completely before reinstalling it. Every month, especially during the summer months, remove any leaves or debris from around outdoor condenser units. Some additional energy saving tips for the summer months include setting your thermostat higher for periods when you are away from home, checking around windows & doors for any gaps or leaking air, minimizing the use of doors leading to garages and making sure that the stove exhaust is on when cooking.

Our goal as your heating and cooling provider is to provide top-notch professional system recommendations, not as a way to sell you something, but as a necessary customer service to ensure the utmost safety and continued comfort for you and your family. By properly maintaining your HVAC systems, we can help to ensure that your family experiences a safe and comfortable home environment year round.

Contact us today for more information on our Preventative Maintenance Agreement program or to schedule an appointment.

Why Fall is a Good Time to Service Your A/C

Fall is officially here! It’s time to shut down the AC unit for the year and switch over to the furnace. At this time of year, many people are calling HVAC professionals to come in and give their heating system that annual tune-up and cleaning, and that’s great. What many don’t consider, however, is that the autumn is also an ideal time to service your air conditioning as well. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of calling for cooling system service in the early autumn months.

Better Deals

Costs go up in the spring, when servicing air conditioning is in high demand. As October arrives and everyone’s looking to have their furnace serviced, some technicians may offer deals on cooling system service. Not to mention, there may be deals offered for servicing both your furnace and AC together, at the same time.

You Could Still Need It

Let’s face it: weather patterns are changing with the climate. Winter seems to be coming later, and the temperatures swing wildly through October. You might actually still need that air conditioning system into the early fall. Why not make sure that it’s in tip top shape so it continues to cool your house? Even into November you can have warm days; don’t assume that just because the calendar says “autumn,” that you’re in for cold weather so soon — especially in Atlanta.

This Is When It’s Needed

You’ve used your AC unit heavily all summer. It’s been running continuously, pumping cool air into your home. It’s overworked, and just like a person who has been working hard, it gets tired and worn out. At the end of the season is the time to service your system because now is when it needs servicing.

So You Don’t Forget

The switchover season is when your HVAC system is on your mind. You’re changing the furnace filter, getting everything ready for the switch. If you wait until next year to service your system, it might just slip your mind. Why take that risk? Call for servicing today and you can be assured that everything will remain in good working order when you need it.

Preparing for Next Year

Speaking of needing it, getting your system serviced now means that when next year rolls around, you are already prepared for the heat! This adds some peace of mind and alleviates some of the stress of preparing for the warm months. You can put more focus on getting the backyard ready for cookouts next year when you don’t have to think too much about getting your air conditioner up and running properly.

Save some money, keep it working right and get set up for next year, all while the changeover is on your mind. Early autumn is the perfect time to get in touch with a local HVAC professional to come in and perform cooling system service on your home. If you’re ready to have your AC system looked at, we are here to help. Check out our services and give us a call for more information today!

You Are Paying Too Much For Maintenance

The idea behind a preventative maintenance program is to lower overall operational costs – If you prevent a failure, then you will not pay for an expensive repair.  This is what the mechanical industry has been touting for a long time, and this is not the case.

After reading this post, you will be able to:

  • Predictively reduce your maintenance budget by over 15%,
  • Significantly reduce “surprise” repairs,
  • Have the knowledge to “cut through the nonsense.”

What You Do

You are responsible for creating an effective budget for your building that is geared toward maximizing the property’s Net Operating Income (NOI), positioning the asset strongly in your market, and most importantly, achieving the property’s investment goals.  You are spending too much money maintaining and repairing your equipment.  I’ll explain why, but to do this you need a little history.


In the 70’s, two genius engineers working at United Airlines, Nowlan and Heap, were commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense to understand why things fail.  Their work was released to the population in 1978, and found to be applicable to all equipment with moving parts.  This study saved the government and airline industry trillions of dollars in maintenance costs and made flying one of the safest forms of transport.

The Discovery

  • Only 11% of failures are correlated with age, such as wear or fatigue
  • The other 89% are random in nature, thus unpredictable
  • 68% have a defect introduced during the construction or application of equipment, making it more prone to functional and catastrophic failure during its life.

The reason most things randomly fail is due to very difficult to distinguish imperfections, such as a bearing with a microscopic defect or a shaft 0.0003% out of alignment.  To discover these issues initially is exorbitantly expensive.

What Did This Mean

What maintenance strategies did airline companies and the U.S. military implement to reduce cost dramatically while increasing safety and runtime?

  • Basic maintenance on a regular and conditional schedule
  • Allow run-to-failure when consequences permit, and to “allow” this to occur as much as possible, they installed redundant systems to deal with failures while the aircraft is in operation
  • Replace all aged parts which were likely to fail before they had the opportunity to create a costly unscheduled repair or life-threatening situation
  • Conditional Inspections based on usage, from pilots visually inspecting a plane every time they took command, to very in-depth investigation of turbine blades after a certain number of operating hours
  • Predictive maintenance when possible and justifiable
  • Constant feedback to manufacturers so equipment could be redesigned to remove the failure’s cause.

They understand more costly maintenance and labor-intensive inspections do not prevent failures. They keep maintenance simple – replacing fluids, filters, torquing connections, and rudimentary inspection. It is smarter to gather great documentation on systems, understand its life cycle, and apply the right amount of solution at the right time: Change components just before they are likely to break, schedule the correct  inspections when most likely to reveal an issue, and manage a failure intelligently rather than just “fix it.” This program greatly reduced labor costs and aircraft downtime while increasing flight safety.

How To Save HVAC Maintenance Costs

If we take the information from the Nowlan and Heap study, and apply the systems implemented by the U.S. government and airline industry, we will have a comprehensive maintenance program that reduces maintenance and repair costs, surprise repairs, all while maximizing uptime.  To do this we need to understand the life cycle for each type of equipment.

Life Cycle of Equipment

A graphical way to understand the relationship of maintenance, repair, and replacement for equipment is the P – F Curve.  It is a Plot of Resistance to Failure for the Useful Life of a component or system, such as a piece of equipment.  It is important to note this curve is different for each type of equipment, and even the same type of equipment used in different environments – A rooftop unit which operates 8 hours per day in a clean environment will have a very different profile than the same model rooftop operating 16 hours per day surrounded by cottonwood trees and close to a major freeway.

This shows us what we know from experience.  New equipment is less likely to have issues when correctly engineered and installed.  After a period of time, it reaches the Potential Failure point when issues start to occur at a reasonably predictable rate.  This continues until the equipment reaches the Functional Failure point when major issues occur, it stops producing the intended function, and repair costs outweigh the replacement cost.

Equipment should have basic time-based maintenance throughout its life:  filters, belts, lubricant, connections tightened, and a simple inspection task. The exception is noncritical equipment which is inexpensive to replace or equipment that has no applicable tasking that will extend its operational life.

Pre Potential Failure

Strategies which extend the life or efficiency of equipment will have the most impact if implemented in this stage because it affects the entire life cycle:  coil screens to keep out flora & cottonwood blossoms, or cooling tower water nozzles that do a better job evenly distributing water.  Filter and belt replacement schedules should be adapted to the environment and use.  If an Air Handler serves a mostly unoccupied space, and the surrounding air is clean, the air filters should not have to be changed as frequently than if the building is full of people and by a freeway.  Your service company should be documenting the condition of the filters, adjust the frequency based on the changing situation, and update the maintenance program price.  A time-consuming alternative is to personally view the condition of the filters, decide the appropriate frequency for change, and ask to have the program adjusted.  This can have a huge impact at driving down costs.

Potential Failure

Once equipment reaches the Potential Failure point in its life cycle, and conditional on the use, application, and environment, inspection tasks should be expanded since this is when failures are able to be identified and occur.  This is also when components which are subject to wear need to be proactively replaced before they fail.  This is the only strategy that will reduce expensive repair calls.

You should also consider revamping parts of the equipment that are failing, which if addressed early enough, will likely add many years to the life. Examples of this are cooling towers rebuilds and condensate pan coatings.  If the equipment is critical, or very expensive, then predictive maintenance can be a reasonable strategy during this period of its life (the only exception is oil analysis for compressors because of the low test cost).

Functional Failure

You need to be alerted before the equipment reaches the point of Functional Failure to:

  • Prepare strategies for replacement
  • Begin educating your ownership group that a large capital expense is needed in the next few years
  • Adjust your Operating budget to account for the additional attention the equipment will need.

When determining the best strategy, incorporate Energy evaluation involving utility rebates and grants, and use Net Present Value analysis to help decide the best financial solution to meet the property’s investment goal.

Your service provider should be proactively providing you replacement quotes, counseling you on options, and working with your timeline to keep the equipment operating as long as possible without large repair costs.  Managers who do not understand the equipment’s position on its life cycle will be ‘‘blindsided’ by unanticipated repair costs.

Final Thoughts

In the HVAC service industry the term Preventative Maintenance is common language, and used to “sell” the idea that failure can be prevented. This is supposed to drive down repairs and save you cost, yet common sense tells us complicated task lists which consume expensive labor, increased frequency of unyielding inspections, changing filters more than needed, or expensive predictive maintenance on noncritical systems ends up costing you more.

The only way to drive down costs is to prescribe the right solutions at the right time.  To do this, the Life Cycle of each type of equipment needs to be known, the equipment’s position on the life cycle understood, and the appropriate actions be automatically taken.  Accept repairs will be needed, but manage this with applicable information and a proactive plan. Make sure your service provider also understands this and is available when you need them.

When a maintenance system is based on Life Cycle – Your life gets easier!

Regular Maintenance For Mechanical HVAC

Because of the extremes of weather in the Chicagoland region, keeping an HVAC system in top condition is important. Even the newest, most sophisticated systems require regular maintenance to continue to run efficiently. Improperly maintained HVAC systems breakdown at the least opportune time, requiring emergency responses and expensive repairs.

North Town Mechanical Services consults, sells, installs and services a range of HVAC systems for any application. A mechanical HVAC maintenance contract with North Town Mechanical keeps your equipment running smoothly and efficiently, saving money on energy, unnecessary emergency calls and parts replacements.

Benefits of Ongoing Mechanical HVAC Maintenance Contracts

There are several reasons why regular HVAC maintenance and inspection by certified technicians rather than building maintenance staff are low-cost insurance against problems. Some of these are:

  • There is more to mechanical HVAC maintenance than changing the filter.
  • Certified technicians have the exact parts and tools for maintaining your HVAC system.
  • HVAC units are frequently in less-accessible locations such as rooftops or in small enclosures. Staff maintenance personnel often forget or postpone normal service procedures since these may not be on their routine inspection path.
  • Certified technicians can spot pending problems which untrained maintenance personnel might not see.
  • North Town Mechanical technicians can identify the root cause of your HVAC problem through industry-sanctioned diagnostics, not trial and error.

What Does HVAC Preventative Maintenance Include?

The real purpose of a preventative maintenance contract is to keep the HVAC system running longer. In doing so, your system runs more efficiently and with less chance of disruption.

North Town Mechanical performs preventative maintenance on rooftop units, refrigeration, furnaces, indoor air quality units and other related mechanical systems. Procedures include checking each component of the equipment for wear or leaks, changing oils where needed, lubricating specific parts and replacing filters and hoses. During each visit, the technician will make note of deteriorating parts that may need to be replaced on subsequent visits.

These activities, performed on a regular basis, will keep you system running longer and more efficiently while avoiding expensive breakdowns. When the HVAC stops, productivity is negatively impacted and the costs add up.

Preventative Maintenance Eliminates Surprises

Regular inspections, replacement of failing parts, lubrication and filter changes will keep your mechanical HVAC system running smoothly. Systems that are poorly maintained end up costing far more than regular professional service. Emergency repair calls or the replacement of an HVAC system before its normal useable life is reached is costly. With a scheduled preventative maintenance program, the mechanical HVAC system will run smoother and last longer.

Energy Survey

In addition, an experienced technician can determine whether an existing system is sufficient to handle any additional demands that may be placed on the system. Expansion or configuration changes may require supplemental heating and cooling or a replacement of the HVAC system. Trained representatives can provide a detailed cost analysis to compare the additional cost of continuing with the current system, the cost of a supplemental unit or the replacement of the entire HVAC system. A responsible, century-old company like North Town Mechanical can be trusted to provide an objective comparison that provides the least-cost option.

North Town Mechanical Offers 24-Hour Service

While most emergency service calls are eliminated with North Town Mechanical’s regular preventive maintenance program, building managers can rest easy knowing that North Town Mechanical technicians are available for 24-hour emergency calls. Contact us today for your maintenance plan or maintenance inspection!

Set Your Thermostat for Savings During Vacation

If you’re getting ready to hit the road for a summer getaway, you have an excellent opportunity to save a little cash by adjusting your thermostat before you leave. Naturally, you’ll save the most money by shutting the A/C off completely, but that’s rarely a good idea — a better plan is to simply turn the temperature up by a few degrees.

Protecting Your Home, Valuables and Pets

Your first consideration when choosing a home temperature for your absence is whether you’ll be leaving any pets behind. Dogs, cats and other mammals can live comfortably in a home that’s fairly warm, but keeping the A/C on is a must — when the temperature outside tops 90 degrees, a sealed home can become an oven, driving temperatures into the triple digits. Consider adding four or five degrees to your usual thermostat setting.

If the only living things you’re leaving behind are a few houseplants, you can set the temperature a little higher — the Environmental Protection Agency recommends a setting of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, you’ll save more energy while you’re gone than you’ll spend to cool things back down when you return.

The reason you can’t just shut your HVAC system down is because sustained heat and humidity can wreak havoc on your home. Drywall, sheetrock and wood can degrade and warp, and wallpaper can peel around the edges. The heat can also affect delicate items in your home, such as artwork, historical documents, bottled wine and sensitive electronics. Even if you set your thermostat to 85 degrees, you might want to make plans to relocate such items to a cooler space while you’re away.

If you live in an especially humid climate, you should consider keeping things a few degrees cooler so that it doesn’t get so steamy in your home. Sustained indoor humidity can encourage mold and mildew growth, which is a health hazard on top of a housekeeping hassle.

Come Home to Comfort

A major downside to adjusting your thermostat for vacation is that you’ll usually home home to a hot house. But depending on the type of thermostat you have, you may be able to cool things down just in time.

Many programmable thermostats are sophisticated enough that you can set a high temperature for your absence and return to a lower temperature a few hours before your return. An even better solution is a smart thermostat, which gives you total control over your settings from anywhere in the world with your smartphone or tablet.

Just keep in mind that larger homes take longer to cool, and not all A/C systems cool air at the same rate. For most homes, you’ll want to start the cooling process at least two hours before your expected arrival.

If you want to upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat before your summer vacation, get in touch with your local HVAC experts today!

The HVAC Life Cycle Cost Breakdowns

HVAC Life Cycle Costs

HVAC system design, construction, and ongoing adjustments require large capital investments. Yet, current HVAC system design practices often do not meet an owner’s expectations for energy or maintenance efficiency, nor occupants’ requirements for comfort. Without HVAC design optimization, even HVAC systems in sustainable buildings with extensive commissioning may fail to meet predicted energy efficiency and suffer deteriorating energy and maintenance performance over a short period. A Life-Cycle Performance Assessment will allow a HVAC system to be selected and sized for the whole life cycle performance, not just start-up performance.

Information Exchange Improves Building Engineers

Building Engineers

This is a general description of the best practices related to the improvements in Building Engineering with standardized information exchanges practices. To determine if your specific software complies with COBie requirements, read more.

Finding a Trusted Contractor

While we think you should always trust your mechanical engineering needs to Colorado Mechanical Systems, here’s a quick summary of the best practices you should generally follow when looking for a contractor.

Our Mission
Colorado Mechanical Systems was founded on the premise that if clients have a more personal relationship with their mechanical contractors, their projects will be completed more efficiently, with higher quality, and lower lifetime costs. Leveraging over 100 years of experience in the industry, CMS provides our clients across the Colorado Front Range with the highest quality HVAC, Refrigeration and Plumbing services for their commercial or industrial properties. We treat every building as if it were our own!


We invite you to contact us today and experience the CMS difference. We look forward to the chance to earn your trust and your business! More About Us
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