The ultimate guide to HVAC maintenance for homeowners
Home maintenance tasks are not easy. They require time and effort. It is a relief that we have plentiful ways to get professional assistance for proper maintenance of the various cooling and heating systems at our home. The importance of consistent cleaning of an air conditioning unit or an HVAC system must be emphasized. All types of heating units and air conditioners require proper maintenance and cleaning to ensure the warm air or cool air generation from the unit is taking place without hindrance, and to also prevent costly repairs in the future,
HVAC system or any system that deals with a heating and cooling system and contains an air filter or condenser unit must be cleaned regularly. This not just ensures that the hot or cold air coming from the heating and cooling system is blowing without interference, but it also ensures that the indoor air quality of the entire house is taken care of. You can always reach out to a trusted HVAC technician to clean the air filters and other internal parts of your HVAC system. You must also remember that a well-maintained HVAC system will also keep away high energy bills.
In this article, we will discuss the ultimate guide regarding the maintenance tasks of an HVAC system. We will discuss the best HVAC maintenance tips and tricks to ensure the air ducts and air filters of HVAC systems function free from blockages and the HVAC system efficiency is enhanced. With that said, let us get started!
Why is HVAC maintenance important?
Experts always recommended having a regular maintenance checklist when it comes to HVAC maintenance. It is always better to deal with preventative maintenance rather than to spend later on costly repairs. Regular HVAC maintenance is essential because it ensures that the cold air and hot air supplied to the entire house have a steady airflow. Similar to how an AC unit or any other heating and cooling system works, when the airflow is established, the HVAC unit will also be safe from overworking. This will help the HVAC unit to deliver energy-efficient operation and keep you safe from high energy bills.
You must also be aware that the repair costs for HVAC systems do not come cheap. The best way to stay away from high repair costs is by investing in regular HVAC maintenance tasks. With consistent and regular maintenance, you will make sure that the HVAC system efficiency is stable, an energy-efficient operation is obtained, and the average lifespan of the HVAC unit is extended.
Moreover, when regular HVAC maintenance tasks you will have clean HVAC filters all year round. This is the best way to be assured of enhanced indoor air quality. With consistent HVAC maintenance, you can get rid of dirty coils, and dust accumulation in the HVAC filters and air filters, remove allergens and prevent mold and mildew proliferation. With preventative maintenance tasks, you can be assured that your family’s health is protected. It is also important to change the air filters in the HVAC system as and when required to prevent high replacement costs and repairs in the future.
A simple HVAC maintenance checklist will also cover taking care of the other internal parts and electrical connections of the HVAC system. Expensive replacement and repairs of internal parts can be prevented when you invest in preventive maintenance tasks as often as the HVAC professional recommended for the HVAC system your home has.
What is the recommended HVAC maintenance schedule?
It can certainly seem overwhelming when you take a look at all the maintenance that HVAC systems require. It is however easier to look at maintenance tasks one at a time. Let us take a look at the common breakdown of the maintenance tasks that is followed for a regular HVAC system.
The advice from HVAC technicians for any typical HVAC system on a weekly basis or daily basis is as follows.
- Run a quick check on the immediate area around the indoor and outdoor components of the HVAC system. Make sure that these visible components of the AC units and heating units are free from clutter like debris, cardboard boxes, grass, leaves, or furniture. It is important to keep any heating and cooling system that sends out or takes in warm air and cool air must be free from obstacles.
- It is also the advice from every HVAC professional that a two feet-clear space is maintained around the heating and air conditioning system. Any type of heating and cooling needs an obstruction-free zone of two feet area immediately around them.
- It also helps to keep high-efficiency air filters handy. Investing in replaceable high-efficiency air filters makes it easy for costly repairs and to also clean the air filter effortlessly. If you do not have a high-efficiency air filter in place, experts recommend that you swap for one to also enhance indoor air quality.
Did you know that checking the air conditioner refrigerant lines for leaks must be done once a month? The outdoor air conditioner is connected to the HVAC system’s indoor evaporator coil via the refrigerant lines. These two lines which are made from copper must be checked for leaks once a month.
Here are a few maintenance tasks that need to be done every season to carry out the seamless operation of your HVAC system.
- Set a reminder to replace the air filter every 90 days, and remember to do it! This is crucial to maintain healthy indoor air quality.
- The water in the natural gas furnace humidifier must be turned off for the summer season.
- When it is fall, you can replace the humidifier air filter and turn the water supply back on.
The following are the preventive maintenance tasks that are suggested to be practiced for your HVAC system.
- It is a must to check the carbon monoxide detectors in your home are in the best working condition. Replace the batteries of the detectors once a year (or often as required) to keep carbon monoxide poisoning under control.
- Do a quick run on the HVAC motor and fan belt. You must lubricate the HVAC motor and replace the fan belt to help them run efficiently.
- It is also suggested that apart from clearing debris accumulation on and around the outdoor AC unit, you must also make sure that the AC unit stands on ground level. If this is not the case, you must fix it at the earliest.
Types of HVAC maintenance
Did you know that were different types of HVAC maintenance? Each of these maintenance types is designed to classify the purpose of the maintenance visit by the professional. Let us take a quick look at the types of maintenance routines.
Maintenance done on a regular basis to clean, lubricate, or replace worn-out parts is preventative maintenance. This routine is to protect the system from encountering breakdowns and expensive repairs.
Predictive HVAC Maintenance
Predictive maintenance is a proactive step that makes use of sensors and other equipment that are designed to monitor the unit’s performance and identify potential threats or repairs even before they occur. Keeping a close watch for potential damage and working on the issue beforehand also saves the system from larger damages.
The restoration of the HVAC unit’s performance by replacing parts or fixing malfunctions in the unit is corrective HVAC maintenance.
As the title suggests, it can be incurred that emergency maintenance is a result of unforeseen repair that calls for immediate action. System breakdowns or malfunctions that have to be attended to at the earliest without delay will fall under this category.
Preparation done on the HVAC for the upcoming seasonal changes is seasonal maintenance. System checks and calibration to suit the winter and summer months are treated as seasonal maintenance.
This is a scheduled maintenance visit from the technician to handle the cleaning of air filters, ducts, and coils, the replacement of filters, and an overall check on all the components. Planned HVAC maintenance will ensure the HVAC unit delivers seamless performance.
Signs that you may need to replace your HVAC system
All types of preventive maintenance measures must be implemented to make sure that the efficiency of the HVAC systems is balanced. HVAC technicians agree in unison that an HVAC system that has been maintained well can be identified from its performance and the condition of the internal parts. However, if you are slacking behind or postponing any of the HVAC maintenance that is to be done, you will soon end up with expensive repairs.
It is easy to tell if any of the internal or external parts, or the entire HVAC system itself has to be replaced with the help of a few signs. Do not forget to call an HVAC technician at the earliest when you notice any of the following gins in HVAC systems.
- If the system blows out only warm air, your unit needs to be looked at.
- Is your HVAC system turning OFF and ON at intervals? You might have to call a professional to replace the parts that are causing this.
- If you notice an imbalance in the hot and cold air temperatures around the house, it is time for HVAC maintenance or replacement of parts to be done at the earliest. If the central air temperature in the house is imbalanced, for example, you have cold air upstairs and hot air circulating downstairs, this clearly indicates that the indoor air temperature or central air temperature must be worked upon without delay.
- If your central air conditioning system or HVAC systems are louder than usual, it could be a result of poorly functioning internal parts or loose connections.
- Another sign that HVAC systems need to be repaired is usually higher energy bills. If the utility bills in your home are exceeding way above the average range that arrive at, it is time that you got the unit fixed.
- A drop in the airflow of the unit, despite the air filters being cleaned and replaced, indicates that the unit must be repaired without delay.
What are 5 HVAC troubleshooting tips that every homeowner should know?
By now, we are confident that you are fully aware of the importance of professional and regular maintenance of HVAC systems. When you fail to invest time in maintaining and cleaning any cooling system or heating system, you are going to run into trouble. The following are a few of the troubleshooting tips that any ultimate guide will encompass that a homeowner will benefit from.
Always remember to keep an eye on tan air conditioning unit that has outdoor coils. The outdoor units of such air conditioners must be checked for damage, especially if the climate is humid. Access the coils by removing the cover from the air conditioning system. Once you are able to see the coils, use a gentle brush to remove any debris or dust accumulation on them.
if you happen to notice any signs of corrosion or cracks, it is evident that the coils have to be replaced. The common factors that lead to corrosion and cracks in the coils are extremes of temperatures. While corrosion takes place due to excess moisture or humidity in the air, cracks in the coils are from high extremes of temperatures. The other reasons for corrosion to take place in the coils are harsh chemical fumes from cleaning agents, paint fumes, the buildup of pollutants, aerosol sprays, etc.
The other area to check for corrosion is the indoor evaporator coil. The indoor evaporator coils can be corroded from exposure to volatile organic compounds or VOCs. Most household supplies and even building materials contain VOCs, and the indoor evaporator unit might be getting damaged by them. It is also important to make sure that you do not have an outdated system. This could mean that there are good chances for your system to recirculate air that is already polluted.
If you notice that an unpleasant musty odor rules your home, it is a sign to look at the drain line’s access point or drainage lines of HVAC systems. A blockage in the drainage line will more of a musty smell or damp odor. This will usually come from the drainage line of the air conditioner as a result of the moisture that is building up in the HVAC system. The moisture or water that gets accumulated in air conditioners will cause a stale odor. When the cool air is circulated throughout the house via the air ducts, the musty odor formed within the drain also gets carried through.
Experts recommended that you call for professional help even to deal with musty odors coming from a heating and cooling system. This is because the central motor might also have leaks in it that can lead to an unpleasant odor in the house. Handling this issue effectively can be done because the central air does not depend on gas. At the first sign of an unpleasant smell, turn off the power supply to the system. This is prevent from the system running into more damage. If you notice that the smell hasn’t left or subsided, do not wait further to call for professional assistance.
The reason could be anything from loose wiring, to a short circuit in the panel, etc. It is best to leave such matters in the hands of a professional to prevent causing any further damage to the electrical panel.
Another area that needs to be paid attention to in your HVAC unit is your programmable thermostat. It is important to monitor the programmable thermostat in your HVAC unit from time to time. If you notice that your programmable thermostat does not record the temperature adjustments that you make, or adjust the temperature automatically as it should, it is a clear indicator that the thermostat is not functioning properly.
You must remember that the thermostat must be set to a constant temperature range. The ideal temperature that must be maintained all year round is between 68-70 degrees. If can very well expect troubles with the thermostat if there are constant temperature fluctuations. It is advised that the batteries be changed to rule out bigger issues with the device.
As simple as this may sound, you might not notice that your home is out of power supply. A storm or rain that has caused a power shutdown might be the reason why your HVAC system is not working. A sudden rise in extremes of temperature (a room too hot or too cold), maybe the only way you notice that the HVAC unit is not working. If this is the case, check the power supply or the breaker box quickly to make sure the supply to your home is steady.
Any sudden rise in the utility bills of your home must be paid attention to. If you begin to see a pattern of increasing utility bills, during all seasons and not just when the heating and cooling needs of your home are on the rise, you must look at the HVAC unit immediately. The high bills can be from problems with the HVAC system. Invest in HVAC maintenance to save money being spent on utility bills without reason.
What are the 4 phases of planned maintenance HVAC?
HVAC maintenance can be explained in 4 simple stages. They are as follows:
As the name suggests, in the inspection phase the air filters, coils, electrical connections, and all other components (internal and external) are inspected by the HVAC technician. The purpose is to identify signs of leakage, corrosion, wear, and tear of parts. Already existing damages, as well as potential threats, are identified and recorded.
Irrespective of whether the HVAC system has any issues or not, it is mandatory that a thorough cleaning routine be done by the technician. The air filters, coils, ducts, and other components are cleaned in this routine to remove dust and debris that have accumulated within the system as well on its outer body.
If the HVAC system is in need of any adjustments, they are made once the cleaning is done. This process will cover lubricating moving parts, calibrating the thermostat, adjusting the fan speed, and any other changes required to ensure the optimal performance of the system.
The final stage covers the documentation work. The repairs identified and made will be recorded by the technician during the planned maintenance visit. This step is important to make note of any visible patterns of wear and tear that are becoming evident during the maintenance visits.
Planned HVAC maintenance is the smart way to ensure that the HVAC performs to its full potential without encountering the need to be subject to costly repairs and replacements.
HVAC maintenance is crucial, avoiding it or postponing will only result in trouble for one’s home. We trust the article was able to explain the pros of professionally maintaining your HVAC unit and the cons that come with skipping it. Take professional assistance whenever necessary to keep your unit running efficiently and without jeopardizing the safety and comfort of your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you really need annual HVAC maintenance?
Yes. Annual HVAC maintenance is highly recommended. You must make it a priority to invest in annual HVAC maintenance because it is the best way to ensure that the performance of the HVAC system is consistent, the parts are in working condition, and your home is protected.
What is a HVAC maintenance technician?
The roles of an HVAC maintenance technician are many. They are licensed to service, install, maintain, repair, and replace air conditioners (or just the internal parts), climate control systems, heating equipment, ventilation units, refrigeration equipment, etc.
What are the four major components to all HVAC systems?
The four main components of HVAC systems are the evaporator coil, compressor, condenser coil, and expansion valve.
What are the most common HVAC problems?
An HVAC unit might run into many problems, the severity depending on the type of problem and the part that has been affected. The common troubles include:
- Dirty coils and dirty air filters
- Unclean condenser and evaporator coils
- Problems with ignition
- Malfunctioning thermostat
- Wear and tear of internal mechanical parts
- Increased noise levels or unusual noises coming from the natural gas furnace
- Trips in the breaker box
- Short circuits in the panel and blown fuses
What percentage of homes have smart thermostats?
According to recent research results, 13% of homes have smart thermostats.