HVAC maintenance guide for homeowners
As every homeowner knows, HVAC systems require regular maintenance. Many homeowners decide to leave the routine maintenance to professionals, however. But the fact of the matter is that most of the maintenance tasks can be easily done by the homeowners themselves. Even if you are in the possession of one of the best home warranty plans, it is in your best interest to regularly maintain your HVAC system. This article will serve as your HVAC maintenance guide, detailing the most common issues and ways in which you can prolong the system’s lifespan, as well as providing you with an HVAC maintenance checklist.
HVAC maintenance guide
An HVAC system can be costly. It is, therefore, imperative that you keep it in optimal condition. But if you have never done any maintenance on the system, it might be completely alien to you. Don’t worry, though, as this HVAC maintenance guide will provide you with all the information you might need. Here’s what the guide will cover:
- Common HVAC issues
- Prolonging HVAC lifespan
- HVAC maintenance checklist
- Signs of a faulty HVAC system
If you have purchased a home with an HVAC system already in place, the first thing you will want to do is familiarize yourself with it. HVAC is one of the many reasons why you need a home warranty plan, as repairs can be quite costly. Incidentally, this is the main reason why you might want to maintain the system to the best of your ability. Even though your home warranty might cover most of the costs, you will still have some out-of-pocket expenses. With that in mind, let’s see what can go wrong with the system.
Common HVAC issues
There are a lot of issues that can plague your HVAC system. However, some issues are far more common than others, such as:
- Dirt and debris
Chances are that you are going to need to deal with these issues at some point. Therefore, it is very important to know how to spot them, as well as why they are occurring in the first place. Your home warranty might not cover all the issues, too, which makes spotting them even more important. You may also want to find out exactly what a home warranty covers and what it does not. With that in mind, our HVAC maintenance guide will go into these three common issues in a bit more detail.
Leaks can occur all along the HVAC drain lines, as well as its connector lines. The leaks will force the system to work harder than it should under optimal conditions, usually leading to component damage. What you need to do is keep a watchful eye on ain leaks from refrigerant lines (most common leak spots), as well as leaks from the heat exchanger and AC condensate lines. If the leaks occurred before you purchased your home, you may be able to reap some of the benefits of home warranty plans. But if the leak occurred due to negligence on your part, the process becomes a bit more complicated.
Dirt and debris
Every single HVAC component is susceptible to debris and dirt damage. Therefore, it is vital that you remove dirt and debris on a regular basis. The accumulated dirt and debris will make it so your system is working rather inefficiently, and will also reduce the overall quality. Excessive dust and debris buildup may also clog the system and compromise its integrity.
Any wires or terminals connected to your HVAC system are in danger of corrosion damage. Corrosion occurs whenever you have any wiring and moisture combined together. While a small degree of corrosion is not extremely dangerous, it will have a similar effect to leaks, meaning that your system will need to work “harder”. The system might also turn itself on and off if enough corrosion is present.
Basically, if you do not stay ahead of corrosion, it will slowly degrade your HVAC system and will cause a full break given enough time. You will definitely want to include cleaning any corrosion in your spring home maintenance checklist.
Prolonging HVAC lifespan
If you want to prolong the lifespan of your HVAC system, here’s what our HVAC maintenance guide recommends doing:
- Buy better filters – Unless your HVAC system is brand new, you might want to consider investing in new, high-efficiency pleated filters. These filters are equipped with an electrostatic charge, meaning that they will filter out even the tiniest particles.
- Replace the filter every 90 days – Additionally, you will want to check the filter on a monthly basis. If the filter looks to be clogged or dark, you may want to change it even sooner. Also, the presence of pets might mean that the filter needs to be changed on a monthly basis instead.
- Remove any debris – During the summer and spring, leaves, twigs, and even pollen can clog your HVAC system. While you should be removing the debris every now and then, make sure to increase your efforts throughout the summer and spring.
- Make sure your unit is level – This is not something that you need to do every couple of months, it is something that you will want to do once a year. When the time comes, ensure that the outdoor heat pumps and AC units are standing firmly and levelly. If you can’t get them to be level on the surface, consider utilizing pads.
- Shut off the water supply in summer – Actually, whenever you anticipate that you will turn the heat on, make sure that the water supply to the furnace humidifier is turned off. Then replace the wick filter and set the relative humidity anywhere between 35% and 40% before turning on the water supply again.
- Inspect insulation on refrigerant lines once a month – Nothing more to say here, simply replace if any of the components are damaged or missing.
HVAC maintenance checklist
- Remove debris from around the outdoor unit
- Lubricate moving parts
- Replace all filters
- Replace belts and pulleys if worn
- Check the cabinet for any leaks
- Clean condensers and evaporator coils
- Change batteries if necessary
- Check the thermostat
- Verify that the fan motor is operating correctly
- Make sure that the cabinet door is closed
- Remove any water from drain pans
- Inspect ducts
- Check the refrigerant charge
- Check the heat pump
- Replace any frayed belts
- Lubricate moving parts
- Check all electrical connections
- Inspect blades and blowers
Most homeowners will be able to handle most of the HVAC maintenance tasks on their own. However, some components of the system are extremely complex and all but require a professional touch. While you may not need to contact a professional HVAC maintenance person, it is a good idea to get in touch with them at least every other year. If your system is old, you may even want to get in touch with a professional twice a year. You will usually want to do that in the spring and in the fall.
Signs of a faulty HVAC system
Even if you follow our HVAC maintenance guide to the letter, there is a chance that your system might break down. Each and every component has its own lifecycle, after all. Some replacements are always to be expected. Here are some of the signs that may indicate that your HVAC system is not working as it should:
- There’s a poor airflow
- The HVAC system is making odd noises
- The system turns on and off on its own
- There’s a temperature imbalance throughout the home
- The energy bills are much higher
- The HVAC system only blows out warm air
Any of these issues might indicate that your HVAC system might have a more serious problem. If you spot any of them, the best thing to do is to contact an HVAC technician immediately.
Potential repair costs
The good news is that the repair costs (especially if you have a home warranty) are not going to be high if you stay on top of your maintenance efforts. You will mostly be changing the filters, which are around $20 a pop, leading to about $80 expense on an annual basis. Professional maintenance will set you back around $80 +- $30, depending on the tasks involved. But if your HVAC system needs any repairs, you might need to “fork over” a bit more.
For example, a replacement smart valve will set you back around $750, whereas the replacement heat exchanger can go up to $1,200. If you need to repair the blower motor, expect it to cost around $150. Basically, most repairs are going to be in the $100-$400 range, and they can quickly add up. As you may imagine, following our HVAC maintenance guide and staying on top of your maintenance tasks can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.
If you are a homeowner and want to find out more about what a home warranty can do for you, as well as find some of the best home warranty companies on the market, all you need to do is browse the Consumer Opinion Guide for free knowledge database. Our articles will provide you with information that can potentially save you thousands of dollars!