Today we’re talking HVAC maintenance—specifically tips for what to check to ensure optimal HVAC efficiency. I know the subject isn’t the most sexy or exciting thing in the world, ha, but when we moved into our older fixer upper late last summer, we began to pay much more attention to our HVAC system. It is 20 years old after all.
Here’s a photo of our outdoor AC unit, which is on the side of the house in a hidden cove area. We need to get outside ASAP and remove the Ivy before it takes over even more. It grows so quickly! The unit was installed in 1996, so it’s older, but (knock on wood) it’s done a great job.
As you know, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit is responsible for keeping your family warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Without it, indoor temperatures can quickly become uncomfortable. Unfortunately, many people find this out firsthand because they fail to perform regular maintenance on their HVAC units.
Use this checklist to ensure your unit is in good working order no matter the time of year.
Spring HVAC Maintenance
There are two things you should do first for spring HVAC maintenance. First, if you have a programmable thermostat—save money by installing one if you don’t already have one—program the temperature to your preferred summer temperature to ensure you don’t come home to a house that is too warm. Second, change the air filter. Once you’ve completed these steps, you can call a professional to check cooling-specific components of your HVAC system.
Your HVAC specialist should clean the unit’s evaporator and condenser coils. When coils are too dirty, the system has to run longer to reach your preferred temperature, resulting in higher energy bills and equipment that needs repaired or replaced sooner rather than later. They should also adjust the refrigerant if needed. Usually, this means adding more, but sometimes the unit has too much, which also results in increased energy costs. Finally, your specialist should clean and adjust the unit’s blower to ensure it is in optimal working condition.
Fall HVAC Maintenance
When the temperatures turn cooler, you must perform heating-specific maintenance. Once again, adjust the temperature and change out the filter—ideally, you will actually change the filter monthly. From there, ask your HVAC specialist to check the gas or oil connections as well as the pressure, heat exchanger, and burner combustion. If any of these components are not working properly, your family could become sick, or your home could catch on fire. At best, an improperly working unit will cause your heat to run more often.
HVAC Components to Check Twice Per Year
Each time you maintain your home HVAC, you should ensure your specialist checks its electrical connections and tightens them as necessary. If wires or other electrical components are not in good working order, you risk becoming the victim of fire. In addition, he or she should lubricate any component that moves to prevent friction, which results in the motor using more electricity.
The condensate drain must be inspected to ensure there are no clogs, which can cause water damage or increase humidity in your home. Finally, your HVAC specialist should turn everything on and off to ensure all controls work the way they should. He or she should wait for the system to cycle entirely on and off to listen for odd sounds that could indicate a problem.
When to Replace the Unit
If you find that your HVAC unit is regularly in need of repairs despite performing scheduled maintenance, it could be time to replace it altogether. Units that are 10 years old or older often are not energy-efficient and must work harder to maintain the proper temperature. By installing a newer model, you help the environment as well as your bank account by using less energy. Always have a professional perform repairs or installation of HVAC units to prevent costly or dangerous mistakes.
So that’s the HVAC checklist that we’ve decided to start following. We’re hoping our HVAC lasts at least a few more years, but we’re prepared to possibly have to replace the entire thing in the near future. Knowing that our home warranty covers that cost makes me feel a lot better about it though, I must admit. Isn’t adulting fun? 🙂
Oh, and here’s a lovely shot of the furnace in the basement. It’s also 20 years old…and upon inspection of the service sheet it looks like it hasn’t been seen by a professional since 2007 (insert shocked looking emoji face here)! Yikes! When Fall rolls around we’re definitely going to have it serviced.
I’d love to hear your HVAC maintenance tips if you have any.