They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. If that’s true, we would say your HVAC system is the pulse. Your HVAC system works tirelessly to ensure your optimal comfort. Without an adequate heating and cooling system, your entire house could become virtually unlivable at certain times of the year. That’s why proper, regular home HVAC maintenance is so important.
In short, it’s essential to make sure your heating and cooling system gets the proper care and maintenance it needs for high-quality performance and longevity. Taking a few basic steps for proper care can even eliminate future replacement or repair costs. Plus, it’s not hard!
Here are a few obvious steps to get you started on easy home HVAC maintenance:
Change Your Filters Regularly
The temptation to put off replacing filters has hit even the most dedicated of homeowners. We recommend changing your filters every 3 months for the best home HVAC maintenance results. This is the number one thing you can do to keep your home system functioning properly.
Clean filters reduce wear and tear on the blower components, increase the air quality in your home and help reduce airborne allergies such as dust and pet dander. If you find that replacing the filters every 3 months isn’t sufficient, don’t be afraid to swap them out more often.
Do your research and find the correct filters as using ones that aren’t a good fit for your unit can reduce the airflow to your system. This will create an unnecessary strain that will reduce its efficiency. If you have an air purification system or other aftermarket accessories, like a humidifier, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for changing those filters. Don’t forget, even ductless systems have filters that need to be changed.
Clean Your Ductwork
Ductwork is an often neglected part of home HVAC maintenance because it’s out of sight and often, out of mind! Ductwork needs to be cleaned every 4-6 years depending on the dust and allergen factor of your local area and your desired level of inside air quality. Dust bunnies seem to spontaneously reproduce in these hidden spaces and then get blown out with the heat or AC and can cover your home in dust and allergens.
It’s especially noticeable if you have hardwood floors as carpets easily hide the level of dust that is really adding up. A professional is usually the best for the job, as they have the proper equipment to easily and safely clean even the hardest to reach spots in the enclosed ducts.
Check Your Outside Condenser Unit For Debris
Keeping overgrown vegetation, such as bushes and piles of blown leaves, clear from your AC condenser unit is key to keeping the airflow intake free of any debris and working at top performance. Be aware that pollen or seeds from certain trees, like cottonwoods or the helicopter seeds from maple trees, are notorious for clogging outdoor AC condensing units.
Take off the exterior cover and clean seeds from the interior. An unexpected home HVAC maintenance issue can also arise if dryer vents are pointed towards your condenser. Dryer lint can be blown into the unit causing loads of problems that could result in an expensive replacement. Ensure that the vent is pointed away from the condenser.
Inspect Your Evaporator Coil’s Drain Pipe
Your AC condenser drain pipe can hold a myriad of issues, including blockages of algae and mold. Keeping it clean is a critical part of home HVAC maintenance. During the wet weather months of spring and summer, this can be a very common problem.
First, locate your drain line. It is usually a white, grey or black one-inch PVC pipe that typically drains outside near the condenser unit. Inspect it to see if there are blockages or build up inside the pipe. Then, using a wet-dry vacuum hose to suck up any plugged areas out of the line. If super duty help is needed, pouring a liberal amount of bleach through the drain pipe can help clear out any biological matter as well. Finally, don’t forget to remove the paper filter from the wet/dry vac so it doesn’t get ruined in this process.
Clean and Straighten The Fins On Your Outdoor Unit
Carefully remove the exterior outer cover of your condenser unit and brush it off or use a vacuum with a brush attachment to remove all outside dirt or vegetation that may be built up. Then, gently use a garden hose and spray from the inside out through the fins to clear any built-up dirt or debris that may be restricting the airflow. Make sure that the pressure you use is just enough to do the job, strong pressure can damage the fin.
Bent fins can happen from simple accidental bumps with the lawnmower or a yard toy. More serious incidents, such as a bad hail storm, can create significant damage. This can cause blocked airflow which will always add to more wear and tear on your unit, shorten it’s the life span and cause higher utility bills. Fins are easily bent back into place using a tool called a “fin comb,” which are sold online from HVAC retailers. Be sure and unplug the unit before working on any kind of home HVAC maintenance.
Get Regular Professional Maintenance
Hiring a professional to help keep things running smoothly is essential to keep your HVAC system healthy and running efficiently. Most problems and home HVAC maintenance can easily be completed DIY, but a competent professional has the knowledge and experience to run more complex fixes. The technician will have the tools and equipment to handle the hazardous coolant and diagnose any air leakages or electrical problems. A professional inspection will find signs of trouble well before they happen, saving you thousands in repair or replacement costs. They should inspect the blower motor, refrigerant levels and observe the thermostat to ensure the proper operation and can make recommendations as needed.
Staying on top of your HVAC maintenance will save you time, money and hassle as well as create a true home that is comfortable and welcoming. Spend some time at the beginning of each season to go through the recommended maintenance and the “heart” of your family’s home, as well as your pocketbook, will thank you.