Owning a home entails immense responsibility. Apart from ensuring timely payment of mortgage every month, one has to supervise the operations of the home and ensure optimal functionality. While engagements such as HVAC maintenance may appear unexciting, they constitute a critical aspect of ensuring smooth operations of your home.
The HVAC system, an acronym for “heating, ventilation, and air conditioning,” plays a vital role in regulating the temperature of your home to keep it comfortable. Furthermore, it contributes to maintaining suitable air quality and maximizing energy efficiency.
As a homeowner, a major part of HVAC upkeep involves being proactive and taking preventative measures to minimize the risk of future issues. A range of problems can arise with HVAC systems, such as leaks, rust, and complications related to distributing hot or cold air. When filters become clogged or coils get dirty, for instance, it can result in various problems down the line. Therefore, staying on top of regular maintenance tasks is crucial year after year.
Having a consistent plan every year is the most effective means of upkeep for an HVAC system. This HVAC maintenance guide covers essential information for creating a plan, such as the necessary steps for proper maintenance, recommended frequency, and associated expenses.
Common HVAC problems
As previously noted, numerous issues can arise with your HVAC system, with some being more frequent than others. Knowing these problems is beneficial. Below are three HVAC problems to prioritize when developing your maintenance routine and examining possible solutions.
All HVAC connector and drain lines have the ability to develop leaks. These leaks force your system to run harder than it should, and could ultimately lead to you having to replace one or more components. Keep an eye out for leaks from refrigerant lines (more on those under monthly HVAC maintenance tasks), as well as leaks from the AC condensate line and heat exchanger.
Whenever you combine wiring with moisture you have the potential for corrosion. This corrosion, which can happen on any wires or terminals related to your HVAC system, will generally cause your heating or cooling system to turn on and off on its own. Like leaks, it will also force your system to work harder, and may lead to a complete break over time.
- Dirt and debris
All components of your HVAC system—from filters to the electric panel, and everything in between—need to be free of debris. In addition to causing your system to work inefficiently, things like dirty air filters will pump dust and allergens into your home, reducing the air quality and flow and potentially clogging the system.
Types of HVAC maintenance tasks
Without knowing what tasks need to be performed initially, it is impossible to create a HVAC maintenance checklist. Unless there are any unexpected problems, each year you should complete the typical HVAC maintenance duties. To simplify distinguishing between immediate and annual tasks, we have divided them into specific timeframes.
Adhering to this list can aid in maintaining the optimal functioning of your HVAC system and can also facilitate early detection of any issues.
At this current moment
Ensure that you always check off these tasks in order to prevent any avoidable problems with your HVAC system.
- Check that the area around the visible indoor and outdoor components of your HVAC system (think AC units and heating units) are free of debris, including boxes, grass, leaves, and furniture.
- Ensure that there is two feet of cleared space around all HVAC system components.
- If you haven’t already, buy high-efficiency air filters so that you have them ready to go. If you don’t have a high-efficiency filter in place already, swap one in.
Every month, on a regular basis.
- Inspect your air conditioner refrigerant lines for leaks. These two lines, which are typically copper, connect your outdoor air conditioner to your system’s indoor evaporator coil. Here’s where—and what—to look for.
During each season
- Replace the air filter every 90 days.
- Turn off water to the furnace humidifier in the summer.
- Replace the humidifier filter and turn water back on in the fall.
- Go through your home and replace the batteries in all of your carbon monoxide detectors.
- Lubricate your HVAC motor and replace the fan belt if it’s not running efficiently.
- Clean your AC condensation drain line with bleach. Directions on how to do that here.
- Take a look at your outdoor AC unit and ensure that, in addition to being free of debris, the unit is standing on level ground.
By adhering to this checklist and ensuring timely completion of appropriate tasks, your HVAC system should operate efficiently for an extended duration. Normally, the lifetime of an HVAC system is between 10 to 25 years, but through proactive maintenance, you can anticipate your system to last closer to 25 years than 10.
Prepping an HVAC Maintenance Plan
Your HVAC setup requires attention to a few specific areas for optimal performance.
- Optimal maintenance periods of different components of the HVAC system
- How advanced is the HVAC system
- The average run time of the system in a day
Phase 1 – Optimal Maintenance Periods
When it comes to establishing an effective prevention plan for your HVAC system, this should serve as your starting point. Initially, you should browse through the manuals given by the manufacturer and take note of the maintenance periods for each unit. Thoroughly read the operation manuals for the various components of your HVAC system such as chillers, boilers, air handlers, and motors. If you do not have these manuals, your most reliable option is to contact the manufacturer’s office in your local area to obtain further information.
It is crucial to use these manuals as a basis for your maintenance plans, as manufacturer maintenance intervals are established through extensive testing and examination, and provide an excellent starting point for HVAC and A/C maintenance schedules.
Phase 2 – HVAC Complexity Levels
Although not everyone may be able to determine the complexity of their systems, a licensed HVAC company is capable of providing a precise assessment. They possess the necessary expertise to service a broad range of brands and models.
Phase 3 – Average Running Time
Considering the duration of the HVAC system’s operation on a usual day is another critical factor to consider, which may vary depending on its installation location. Workplaces’ HVAC systems, for example, may have a significantly longer operating time than those found in homes. Understanding the run time can aid in adjusting your maintenance schedule accordingly.
HVAC Maintenance – DIY (Tasks You Can Get Done Yourself)
For individuals interested in independently maintaining and optimizing their HVAC and AC systems, this article offers advice to achieve peak performance without requiring professional assistance.
These are a few helpful HVAC upkeep suggestions at your disposal.
Cleaning the external unit (Condenser and Compressor)
It is essential to pay close attention to the condenser as it is a crucial component of the air conditioning system. It is usually situated outside, but it may be found in the garage or attic based on the model. Copper tubes, which may have a foam coating, connect the condenser to your home, and it functions by transferring heat, cooling the air inside and expelling warm air from the interior. To maintain it in good standing, it is critical to schedule frequent air conditioning maintenance.
Step 1 – Power Off The Unit/Mains
Before cleaning the unit, it is essential to ensure that there is no power flowing through it. This can be achieved by either disconnecting the breaker or turning the switch to the off position. Alternatively, if you find these methods difficult, you can cut off power to the air conditioner condenser from the main electrical panel.
Step 2 – Clear debris and areas around the unit
It is important to thoroughly clean the condenser fins, as they tend to accumulate the majority of debris. Using a rough paint brush would be most effective in removing the easily removable debris. Additionally, a vacuum cleaner equipped with a brush attachment could be used to clear away smaller particles. To ensure optimal functioning, the area around the condenser should be clear of plant growth or other objects within a 2 ft radius.
Step 3 – Clean And Straighten the Air Conditioner Fins
On occasions, dirt and grime can build up on fins which can’t be cleaned with a brush. A better option is to utilize an old dinner knife to scrape away any embedded debris from in-between the fins and straighten any that are bent.
Step 4 – Cleaning the Condenser Fan
Over time, a significant amount of dust and debris can accumulate in this region, and it necessitates regular cleaning. There is also a possibility of leaves becoming trapped here. The most convenient approach to clean it is to wipe it with a damp cloth and allow it to dry in the sun.
Step 5 – Cleaning Fins Inside Out
The most convenient way to clean the fins is to use a garden hose and preferably a hose nozzle, which efficiently removes a substantial amount of dirt that other methods could not. It is important to avoid getting the fan motor wet. In the case of an unsealed bearing fan motor, the lubrication can be checked, and a few drops of electric motor oil should suffice. Other types of oil should not be used.