HVAC Maintenance 101: How to Keep All of Your HVAC System Components In Ship Shape Year-Round
Air conditioning alone costs homeowners $29 billion per year. Taking care of your HVAC system throughout the year can keep it running more efficiently to save you money on your bills.
Maintaining your HVAC system components is an easy task that doesn’t take much time. A simple checklist of these tasks helps you remember what to do.
Keep reading to explore the HVAC maintenance tasks you need to do.
Check and Replace Air Filters
One of the easiest and most basic things you can do to help your system is to replace the air filter. The filter keeps dirt, allergens, pet hair, and other debris from getting into your HVAC system and circulating in the home.
As it catches those tiny pieces, the filter becomes dirty and clogged. This slows down the air, which makes the system work harder to keep heating or cooling your home.
Get in the habit of checking your HVAC filter monthly. When it looks dirty or clogged, replace it with a fresh filter.
The air conditions in your home affect how often you’ll need to change the filter. If your home is dusty or you live in a dry, dusty location, you might have to change it more often. Having lots of pets can also make it necessary to change the filter more often.
Reusable filters are an option as well. You’ll still want to check the filter frequently to see if it needs to be cleaned.
Clean Up Outdoor Debris
Central air conditioning systems typically include a unit outside your home. Keeping the area around this unit clean puts less strain on the system.
Start by trimming weeds, bushes, and other plant growth in the immediate area of the outdoor unit. Any plants that grow around it will slow airflow and make the system work harder.
Spray down the unit occasionally using your regular garden hose. A power washer is too harsh and can bend the aluminum fins on the unit. Hosing down the unit gets rid of the dirt, pollen, and other small particles that can clog it and slow airflow.
While you’re cleaning the outdoor unit, look at the aluminum fins. They often get bent, which can slow airflow and force the system to work harder. You can get a fin comb to straighten the fins and restore airflow.
Clear the Vents
Your system can’t heat or cool your home effectively if the vents throughout the house are covered or blocked. Check each room to make sure the vents are open and clear. You might need to tie back long window treatments or rearrange furniture to give the vents a more open area.
Clearing around the vents lets the cooled or heated air enter the space easily. It can also put less strain on the system because that air can flow freely.
Inspect the Ducts
The ductwork is another important component in your HVAC system that you might not think about. Over time, the ducts can develop holes, cracks, or gaps. If they’re not installed well, they might start leaking where the ductwork connects.
When you have leaky ductwork, you lose a lot of the heated and cooled air before it gets to the desired parts of your home. This can use a lot of extra energy as you adjust the thermostat to compensate for the lost air.
Look at any exposed ductwork in your basement, crawl space, or attic to look for obvious signs of damage. You can also hire a professional to inspect the ductwork.
Tape and mastic designed for ducts are available to seal minor leaks. You can also insulate the ductwork to hold more of the heated and cooled air inside.
If the ducts have significant damage, you might need to replace them.
Look and Listen for Problems
You may not be an HVAC professional, but you might notice when things don’t seem quite right with your system. You might notice the HVAC unit is suddenly making a new sound that you’ve never heard before. Or you might notice condensation building up.
It could be a matter of the system not keeping up with your heating or cooling needs. Maybe the system can’t seem to ever get cold or hot enough, or you might notice that some areas of the house seem to be hotter or colder than others.
When you notice that something’s off with the system, call an HVAC contractor right away. A pro can diagnose the problem and repair it quickly.
Handling AC and heating repairs when they’re minor is the best option. It can prevent more significant damage to your system.
Schedule Professional Maintenance
Even with your regular maintenance, it’s a good idea to have an HVAC pro check your system at least once per year. An HVAC tech is better equipped to check all of the HVAC components, including the potentially dangerous internal components.
Routine maintenance from a professional involves a complete system check of all parts. The technician makes sure everything looks right and is running correctly.
The maintenance usually includes a check of the thermostat to ensure it’s running correctly. An improperly working thermostat can affect heating and cooling or cause your system to run more than it needs to, which adds strain to it.
The technician can do little tune-ups on parts, including lubricating the internal moving parts, to prevent damage to the HVAC system.
This checkup is also a good time for the tech to spot problems with the unit that you might not have noticed. Catching those things early is usually much easier and more affordable to fix. If you let undiagnosed problems go on for too long, it could cause significant damage or force you to get a new HVAC system.
Many HVAC contractors offer regular maintenance plans that include a yearly check. Enrolling in a maintenance program helps you remember to schedule those yearly checks.
Maintain Your HVAC System Components
Taking care of your HVAC system components year-round helps keep everything running correctly. It can put less strain on your system and helps you spot problems early before they become major issues.
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