HVAC maintenance do's and don'ts
With regular maintenance, you can help your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems keep working through every change in season. This routine can also increase the efficiency of your HVAC system, which means you may save money on your utility bills each month.
Here's what you need to know about HVAC maintenance:
1. Schedule seasonal maintenance and checkups.
Ideally, call a professional to perform a system tune up before the change in seasons. The general rule of thumb is two checkups a year - one in spring and another in fall. While do-it-yourself maintenance won't replace professional inspections entirely, handy homeowners can run a DIY central air conditioning checkup and prepare their HVAC system for winter.
2. Change filters regularly.
Aim to replace the filters in air conditioning units, furnaces and heat pumps every few months. Even the smallest amount of dust can cause poor air flow, and seriously clogged filters can lead to an entire system breakdown. Remember: Always turn off the system before replacing filters.
3. Check ductwork for leaks.
Leaks can lead to dangerous water damage and mold infestations, so make sure you catch them and schedule repairs as soon as possible.
4. Clean and inspect the system often.
Make time to check out your HVAC units about every two months, especially after storms. Look for problems along the way. Even if you don't know what's wrong with the system, noticing an issue is the first step to fixing it before it gets worse.
5. Keep the area around unit clear.
Trim trees and shrubs near outdoor cooling and heating units, and make sure the area is free of leaves, pollen and grass. As long as the system is off, you can use a hose to clean off dirt and debris. HouseLogic recommends leaving at least 2 feet of clear space around outdoor heating and cooling units.
6. Check carbon monoxide detectors.
Replace the batteries as needed or at least once a year. If you don't have carbon monoxide detectors, look into getting them installed as soon as possible.
7. Set systems at optimal temperatures.
According to the Department of Energy, you should set your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer and 68 degrees during the winter. Lower the temperature when you're asleep or away from your house for further efficiency and energy savings. Plus, make sure your thermostat always has fresh batteries.
1. Don’t take on any DIY maintenance that you feel is beyond your skill limit.
Always keep safety in mind first. If you're not comfortable performing a maintenance task, don't do it.
2. Don’t hesitate to call a professional if you find any issues.
If you can't fix the problem, call someone immediately! If you let the issue fester, it can lead to more severe damage and steeper repair bills.
3. Don’t overlook the importance of professional services.
Those bi-annual system checkups are critical for a healthy, efficient HVAC system. If you forgo the tune-up, you risk facing issues or system failures that could have been avoided.
4. Don’t assume previous owners took care of the system.
It's always a good idea to call a professional to inspect the HVAC system as soon as you move into your new home.
5. Don’t ignore unusually high bills.
The spike may be due to an issue with the system. If you can't find the source, call a professional to inspect your HVAC system, as his or her expert eyes may see something you missed.
Being prepared for an HVAC home repair emergency is important. Plans from HomeServe can help with the cost of covered repairs.