HVAC Maintenance Tips – Forbes Advisor

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If you’re looking for ways to keep your finances in check, look no further than your heating and cooling system. Heating and air conditioning systems in the home take up more than half of total household energy consumption and cost thousands of dollars to replace. Keeping your HVAC system in top condition is a great way to save money on monthly utility bills and avoid the high cost of repairing or replacing the system or calling your HVAC company.

Read on for HVAC maintenance tips to keep your home more comfortable and your budget in the black.

1. Schedule professional preventive HVAC maintenance

Consider scheduling two seasonal HVAC adjustments each year, one in the spring for the air conditioning and one in the fall for the heating. During these maintenance checks, HVAC installers and technicians will thoroughly maintain, inspect, and troubleshoot the system to keep it running efficiently and avoiding failures. The HVAC technology will:

  • Check the thermostat calibration and settings
  • Tighten electrical connections if necessary
  • Lubricate all moving parts
  • Inspect the condensate drain and clean if necessary
  • Check System Controls
  • Clean and Adjust Blower Parts
  • Clean the evaporator and condenser coils
  • Check the refrigerant charge
  • Check Fuel Line Connections
  • Inspect gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger

2. Change the filters

Filters remove dust, hair and other particles from the air so that these pollutants are not spread throughout the house. You can improve the air quality in your home and use less energy by replacing the HVAC filter every 30 days. Clean filters allow more air to pass through, allowing the system to heat and cool more efficiently. For most systems, filters with a MERV rating between seven and 13 provide an excellent balance between filtration power and maximum airflow.

3. Perform visual inspection of the HVAC system

Inspect the system monthly when you replace the filter to identify potential problems. View the thermostat, indoor unit, outdoor unit, registers and returns. In addition, you should check the following:

  • Check the battery status on the thermostat
  • Inspect the condensate system to ensure proper drainage
  • Make sure the filter access and cabinet door are securely closed
  • Make sure the flue system is securely fastened and completely intact
  • Make sure all registers and returns are unblocked and open
  • Check all registries for signs of mold
  • Make sure the outdoor unit is level. If necessary, use rot-resistant shims to level it

4. Eliminate clutter around the HVAC indoor unit

Keeping the area around your HVAC indoor unit clear improves air quality and safety. The more stuff you have, the more surface there is to collect dust that eventually ends up in the ventilation system. Clutter also reduces air circulation in the immediate vicinity, which is bad for system efficiency. In addition, clutter can present both a fire and trip hazard and make repairs and maintenance more difficult.

5. Keep the outdoor unit clean and bright

The remote HVAC unit can easily become a collection point for fallen leaves, twigs, grass clippings and other debris. Remove all debris on and around the unit each time you do any yard maintenance, and rinse if debris begins to build up. Keep nearby plants trimmed back at least two feet from all sides of the unit to maintain good airflow.

6. Control your home temperature

Maintaining your HVAC means using it at temperatures that are comfortable and not using it as often when you are away from home or sleeping. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature at different times of the day. If you keep the house cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer when you’re away, the system will run less frequently, use less power and last longer.

7. Replace the batteries in your thermostat

Some thermostats are wired into the home’s electrical system. Others run on batteries. Replace the batteries at least once a year to avoid problems.

8. Maintain the Carbon Monoxide Detector

A carbon monoxide detector is an essential safety feature in homes with combustion heating systems, such as natural gas or oil. In the event of an exhaust leak, reduced ventilation, excessive gas flow or any other malfunction, the alarm can save your life.

These devices have an average life of about seven years. Test the carbon monoxide alarm monthly to ensure it is in good working order and replace it if necessary. Plan to replace the batteries every six months.

9. Monitor utility bills

If you notice a spike or gradual increase in power consumption with unchanged use, it could be a sign of a problem with your HVAC system. Schedule a service visit with your trusted heating and cooling company to have the system checked. Dirty filters, duct leaks, too little refrigerant, defective parts or other problems can be the cause.

10. Consider Total Replacement

The average lifespan of an HVAC system is between 15 and 25 years. Several variables can increase or decrease that timeline, including system type, brand, and consistency of maintenance. By taking care of your heating and cooling system, you will maximize its lifespan and maintain higher efficiency for a longer period of time.

Eventually, energy efficiency begins to decline and repairs are more frequent. If you find that the old system isn’t as reliable as it used to be, don’t wait for it to eventually crash on the hottest day, coldest night, or while on vacation. Plan ahead and replace your HVAC system on your own terms.

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