Pampering Your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System
HVAC Maintenance Tips
Here’s the one place you can’t afford to be lazy about home maintenance: your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. HVAC maintenance is similar to the maintenance on your car: if you don’t change your engine oil, replace the filters or replace the belts regularly, your engine will ultimately shut down and not operate. If you spend $40 on an oil change and air filter exchange for your car, it will ultimately save you thousands of dollars in potential car repairs. Likewise, a few hundred dollars in HVAC maintenance will keep your system humming longer, lengthening the amount of time you will have between HVAC system replacements.
How To Begin?
The best place to start with HVAC maintenance is by checking the owner’s manual. The manufacturer will outline what basic maintenance procedures will keep your system running well. If you lost the manuals or never received them from the previous homeowners, just call the manufacturer and they can send or email you new ones. Most manufacturers are putting PDF copies of their user manuals on their websites, so that might be the quickest way to get the information you need.
Calling an HVAC professional to tune-up your system twice a year, once in the spring for your air conditioner and once in the fall for your furnace, will also help ensure its overall health. The professional will also be able to alert you to changes they see in the system, allowing you to replace or repair things before they become very expensive, last-minute repair.
For the air conditioning, as the warmer weather approaches, have your professional clean the coils, evaporator, blower component, and condenser coils if that hasn’t been done lately. And for the furnace, make arrangements to have a professional visit towards summer’s end. There are many websites that provide a list of what to expect. Here is one that can help get you started.
U.S. Department of Energy Guidelines
The U.S. Department of Energy offers the following general guidelines for maintaining your HVAC system:
Monthly Do-It-Yourself Tasks
- Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.
- Check thermostat settings to ensure the system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away. Today’s technology enables you to have a thermostat system, like the Nest, which can be set by your smartphone.
Annual Professional Maintenance
- Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use.