HVAC maintenance is something most homeowners would rather avoid. However, when you neglect HVAC maintenance, you run the risk of sudden HVAC breakdowns that happen at inconvenient times and results in unexpected and costly repairs. To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure you perform preventative HVAC maintenance on a regular basis.
The best times for an HVAC service is at the change of season. A quick tune-up can identify and fix problems ahead of summer and winter, the months when you need your HVAC system the most. Here’s what to take into consideration with a change of season HVAC maintenance.
1. HVAC Maintenance Tasks You Can Do Yourself
While you should always use a certified HVAC contractor to install, repair, and maintain your home’s HVAC system, not all HVAC maintenance requires an HVAC technician. Here are a few minor tasks you can tackle yourself at the start of every season.
Change The Air Filter
The air filter traps dirt and helps keep the air in your home clean. When dust builds up on the filter, airflow becomes restricted. This will lower the efficiency of the unit and lead to more serious problems in time. For this reason, changing the air filter regularly is an important part of AC maintenance.
How often you need to change the air filter depends on the quality of the filter and how often the air conditioner is used. In Las Vegas, you probably run your air conditioner every day in summer. In spring and fall you may use it less. This means you’ll need to change the air filter more frequently during summer. In general, an air filter should be replaced once every three months. During summer when the AC is used more heavily, it’s a good idea to check the filter once a month.
Clean the Air Vents
Air vents are another part of the HVAC system that can become clogged with dirt and dust. This also reduces airflow and the air reaching you will not be as cold or warm as you’d like it to be. Try to incorporate the dusting of air vents into your household cleaning routine to prevent dust accumulating. You should also make sure no furniture, plants or curtains are blocking the vents.
Check The AC’s Outdoor Unit
If you have a traditional HVAC system or heat pump, you need to keep an eye on the outdoor unit. Dirt and debris can start to cover the unit and that will affect its functioning. Keep it clear of debris by simply hosing down the unit from time to time. If there are any plants or trees nearby, trim back leaves and branches when they start to encroach on the unit.
Check The Furnace
At the start of winter, do a quick inspection of your furnace. Most furnaces are located in the basement which many people also use as a storage area. Make sure the space around the furnace is not cluttered with items that can present a hazard. If you have a gas furnace, check that the burner flame is blue. If the flame is yellow, it’s an indication that the burner is dirty.
2. HVAC Maintenance and Repairs Best Left To The Pros
For all other inspections, maintenance, and repair jobs, call the pros. HVAC systems are complex pieces of machinery and require a skilled expert to attend to maintenance and repairs. Have a trained HVAC technician check your air conditioner at the start of summer and inspect the heating system before winter. If you have a heat pump, try to schedule maintenance twice a year.
Despite regular maintenance, HVAC equipment is subject to normal wear and tear and things can still go wrong. Always pay attention to a drop in efficiency and don’t ignore any unusual noises. They are signs that something is wrong in the system. Even if you are an accomplished DIYer, don’t try to fix the problem yourself. Without specialized HVAC training and knowledge, you could do more harm than good. Call your HVAC technician.
3. Pre-Summer AC Checks The HVAC Technician Should Do
Once you’ve done preliminary checks and minor maintenance tasks on your AC unit, it’s time to book a full inspection with an HVAC professional. Here’s what the pros will do on a routine AC maintenance check.
- Check the refrigerant levels. If the refrigerant is low, the technician will inspect the refrigerant line for leaks. With little or no refrigerant running through the system, your AC will not emit cold air. If a leak is detected, it must be fixed immediately. The refrigerant gas is toxic to the environment and harmful when inhaled.
- Clean the coils. The technician will check the indoor evaporator coils and outdoor condenser coils and clean the coils if they are dirty. Dirty coils place a strain on the AC system, forcing it to work harder.
- Check the ducts. Your HVAC system’s ductwork can develop leaks that cause air to escape and reducing the efficiency of the air conditioner. Dirt, dead rodents, insects, and bacterial growth can also accumulate in the ducts and present a health hazard. The HVAC technician will repair leaks and clean the ducts.
- Check the condensate line and drain pan. Moisture removed from the AC system runs into the condensate pan. However, there are times when the drain line becomes clogged and fluid accumulates in the drain pan. Stagnant water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. It will also lead to a nasty odor. Your HVAC technician will check the condensate line, clear any blockages, and flush out the condensate pan.
- Check the thermostat settings. On a routine AC check, the technician will check the settings on the thermostat and, if necessary, make adjustments for more accurate temperature readings. If it still isn’t working properly, it could mean your thermostat needs replacing.
- Check the condenser fan, blower motor, and capacitors. When the AC’s fan motor or capacitors break down, your air conditioner will suddenly stop working. Your AC technician should check that the condenser fan, blower motor, and capacitors are all in good working order.
- Inspect electrical connections. A loose electrical connection or frayed wires can lead to a problem later on or cause a fire. The technician should check the condition of electrical wires and tighten connections.
4. What The HVAC Technician Should Check On The Heating System
It is important to schedule a pre-winter furnace checkup for both functionality and safety purposes. Furnaces remain idle for many months. In that time, you may be unaware of certain problems that have cropped up. For instance, rodents could have chewed through electrical wiring or a potential gas leak may be lurking. Your technician should do the following when checking the heating system.
- Clean the inside of the unit. The technician will remove the unit’s cover to brush off dust or vacuum inside the unit.
- Change the filter. The technician will check the air filter and replace it if it is dirty.
- Lubricate the blower motor. Over time the bearings in the blower motor loses lubrication and has difficulty operating. A few drops of oil will have it running smoothly again.
- Check the fan belt. The fan belt drives the furnace blower. When it doesn’t function properly, less heat will make its way into your home. The technician will check to see if the fan belt is loose, cracked, or frayed.
- Inspect the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is the part of a furnace that literally heats up the air. When it becomes cracked or rusted, not only is heating efficiency affected but it can release deadly carbon monoxide gas.
- Inspect the electrical wiring. If there is a loose electrical connection or frayed wires, it should be repaired immediately.
- Check the gas line and flue pipe. Undetected leaks along the gas line and flue pipe are dangerous. The technician should check for cracks or leaks and conduct a carbon monoxide test.
5. Heat Pump Maintenance
A heat pump is a single unit that provides both heating and cooling. Maintenance on heat pumps includes many of the tasks conducted on traditional HVAC systems. These include:
- Keeping the outdoor unit clear of dirt and debris.
- If your heat pump connects to a traditional duct system, schedule regular duct cleaning.
- In colder climates, heat pumps have a backup heating system, typically a furnace. Perform the same furnace checks and maintenance as mentioned above.
- Book a seasonal tune-up with your HVAC contractor.
6. The Benefits of Seasonal HVAC Maintenance
HVAC maintenance can easily slip through the cracks. However, it is an important part of home maintenance and plays a big role in how efficiently the system operates and how long it will ultimately last. Seasonal HVAC Maintenance has the following benefits:
- Increased efficiency. Seasonal maintenance keeps your heating and cooling system functioning optimally. This means you won’t face problems like weak airflow, inadequate heating or cooling leading, and untimely breakdowns.
- Improves air quality. Regular cleaning of ducts, air filters, and air vents help keep the indoor air your breath healthy. It prevents a build-up of mold that can lead to allergies, illness, and respiratory problems.
- Energy savings. When your HVAC system struggles to function, it has a direct impact on your energy bill. A poorly functioning system has to work harder to regulate temperature which, in turn, drives up your electric bill.
- Fewer repairs. HVAC repairs can be frustrating and put a massive dent in your budget. Preventative maintenance spots problems early and helps avoid frequent and costly repairs.
- Increases the lifespan of the unit. Modern HVAC systems and heat pumps are designed to last 15 to 20 years, provided you maintain it regularly.
- Ensures safety. If your heating system uses a gas or electric furnace, there are dangers associated with it. Gas leaks, pressure problems, and electrical faults all present dangers. Inspecting the furnace before winter can identify and prevent a potentially dangerous situation.
7. Why It’s Important To Hire The Right HVAC Company
For the best results on repairs and maintenance, only hire a reputable licensed HVAC contractor with trained technicians. At The Cooling Company, our technicians are EPA-certified and we offer a 12-month guarantee on our installations. A trained technician understands how the different components of the system work and is equipped with the proper tools to correctly and safely perform installations and repairs. With an unlicensed contractor, you run the risk of improper installations, inadequate maintenance, and inferior parts being used which will all negatively affect the efficiency of the unit and shorten its lifespan.
The Cooling Company has been proudly servicing Las Vegas, Henderson and nearby areas for 8 years. During that time, we’ve built up a solid reputation in the industry and our customers trust us with all their HVAC needs including installation, repairs, and maintenance. If your HVAC system is due for seasonal service, give us a call us at (702) 790-8277 to schedule a maintenance appointment.