Doing seasonal HVAC maintenance will help keep your system operating in peak condition. With the chill of winter and the scorching heat of summer, your furnace and air conditioner is quietly working hard to keep you comfortable. But with a little attention every few months, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs and avoid the shock of waking up to your ac not turning on.
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Each season has its own challenges for your HVAC, and we'll show you exactly what you should do to keep your unit healthy and strong. A little upfront time, will allow you to sit back and relax as your HVAC tackles each season with ease.
Seasonal HVAC Maintenance Tips For Your Home
You've probably heard before that changing your filters is critical to keeping your system running at its best, but did you know that having an annual inspection by an HVAC maintenance professional can add years to its service life?
Staying ahead of future repairs can help you avoid expensive emergency service in the future, and prevention is always your better choice. Here are a few of the reasons why having your HVAC inspected every year is important:
- Higher Energy Bills - You'll spend more money on your gas bill because your furnace won't be as efficient. When parts and filters become clogged and dirty, the unit will need to work harder to deliver the same results. Simply put, your HVAC will use more fuel.
- Service Life - Having your furnace inspected may uncover some minor issues that require repair. However, if left unfixed, these minor problems could result in major repairs down the road. Taking care of issues early can reduce your repair expenses in the long run, and in addition add years to the service life of the unit.
- Unexpected Failure - If your furnace develops a clogged pilot or a rusty burner, it could stop working entirely. Although there's never a good time, if it's the dead of winter, this could be very unpleasant and even dangerous!
- Safety - If the heat exchanger develops a crack, carbon monoxide could seep into your home. This can create an extremely hazardous environment since carbon monoxide is both odorless and colorless. It's often called the silent killer.
- Structural Integrity - If hot water leaks from the boilers there's a possibility that it could cause a major problem with the structural integrity of your house.
- Invalid Warranty - Many manufacturers require their units to be inspected annually by a qualified professional in order to keep the warranty valid.
Having your HVAC unit inspected annually is one of the best things you can do to keep it running at peak performance. It will help prepare your system for the heavy workload ahead, and allow you to make repairs before there's a problem. An annual inspection is the single best way to keep your HVAC running for years to come.
- The furnace should be inspected in the Fall.
- The air conditioner should be inspected in the Spring.
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As the weather begins to get cooler, it's time to start thinking about your furnace again. In most cases, your furnace has been sitting unused during the summer months, and taking some time now will prepare it for the upcoming workload. Not to mention, help prevent an unexpected breakdown.
Having a trained professional conduct an annual inspection on your furnace means they'll be able to look and clean deep inside the furnace and find any potential problems. They'll also change your air filter for you!
Since the demand on a furnace is in the winter, you should have it inspected in the late fall / early winter. We highly recommend using the same company to inspect both your furnace and air conditioner as they can ensure that a plan is in place for your entire HVAC system.
Changing the Air Filter
Changing your filters regularly is critical to protecting your furnace. The general rule of thumb is to change them every 2 to 3 months, but we also recommend checking them in between changes.
When you check your filters in between replacing, you'll be able to monitor their usage. You may live in an area that's prone to more dust, in which case, your filters will need to be changed more frequently. Or maybe, you can go longer between changes.
Either way, knowing when your filters need to be replaced can save you money and provide better protection for your furnace. When your filter is clean, your furnace won't overwork in order to keep your home warm.
Fall Furnace Maintenance Tasks
The following are some essential HVAC maintenance tasks for the Fall:
- Schedule your annual furnace inspection.
- Change your air filter. (This will be done at your annual inspection).
- Using a long attachment, carefully vacuum the inside of your furnace to remove any dust and debris that may have collected inside. (Your unit will be cleaned during your annual inspection).
- If its been a few years, you should have your duct work professionally cleaned and inspected. This is also important if you're doing remodeling or have had a mold or insect infestation.
- Check your inside vents to ensure that they are clean and free of obstructions.
- If your furnace has a humidifier, you should replace the filter and turn the water on.
- Check your carbon monoxide detectors. They should be in good working order with fresh batteries. All bedrooms, at minimum, should have a carbon monoxide detector. We highly recommend the one below.
If you followed the fall HVAC maintenance tasks listed above, your job in the winter will be much easier. Still, you'll want to keep an eye on your system's performance and react quickly to any problems. Having your furnace fail is never good, but failing during the winter could be dangerous.
Winter Furnace Maintenance Tasks
The following are some essential HVAC maintenance tasks for the winter:
- Complete any Fall tasks above that were not done.
- If you didn't schedule your annual furnace inspection, you should do so as soon as possible. Furnace repairmen get very busy during the winter, so you'll want to have them out before the weather turns cold.
- Change your air filter. Air filters should be changed at least every 3-months. It's a good idea to keep a couple extra on hand.
- Keep the area around your furnace clean and clear of clutter. It's important that your furnace has adequate air flow, especially since it'll be working hard to keep you warm over the next couple of months.
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As your furnace begins to work less, it's time to start thinking about "waking-up" your air conditioner from it's winters rest. Spring is the best time to conduct your AC annual inspection, and many company's offer discounts to schedule early.
A professional will clean the unit and replace your filters, as well as check and adjust the refrigerant levels. They'll oil the motor, clean the condenser and evaporator, check the hoses and belts to make sure they are in good working order, and basically do a deep dive into the unit so it's prepared for the punishing summer heat.
Spring HVAC Maintenance Tasks
The following are some essential HVAC maintenance tasks for the spring:
- Contact a trained professional to perform routine maintenance on your unit. You may be able to "get away" with skipping this important check-up, but in the end, it'll extend the service life of your unit.
- Change your air filter. (This will be done during your annual inspection).
- Remove any dirt or grime from the unit that may have collected over the past few months. (The inside will be cleaned during your annual inspection).
- Remove any debris or foliage around the AC unit. For proper ventilation there should be at least 2-feet cleared.
Prime the Air Conditioner
Before using your air conditioner for the first time in the season, you should always take the time to help "wake it up" from its Winter nap. By running it at a lower setting, you'll allow the AC unit to get back into the groove of being used.
You should NEVER turn it to "full blast" right away after it's been sitting idle for several months. In the end, this will extend the service life of your AC unit.
DIY Spring Tasks
Okay, we know the DIY people out there are going to want to complete the spring check-up themselves. Even though we try to convince you to have your AC professionally inspected, you're still going to want to undertake the job yourself.
Although, we highly recommend having a professional come out at least every few years, here's a list to help get your AC unit up and running for the summer.
- Giving your AC unit a good cleaning will help make sure that the air that's cooled is both safe and clean to bring into your household. After all, the unit has been sitting gathering dirt and dust for the last few months.
- Clear the area of all debris and foliage that may have accumulated over the winter. There should be at least 2-feet of open space to allow for proper ventilation.
- Use a hose and clean the condenser coil (be sure to allow them to completely dry).
- Clean the drainage hole with a small wire. It's located below the evaporator fins.
- Check the insulation on the coolant line. Replace the foam if it's torn.
- Check the fan. If it doesn't start, call a professional for repairs.
- Wipe down the unit and remover any dirt or grime that may have collected over the past few months.
- If your furnace has a humidifier, it should be turned off.
- Change your filters.
In most areas, summer is when your air conditioner is at its busiest. If you haven't called for your annual AC inspection yet, you should do so soon. It's critical that your air conditioner is in good repair and prepared to keep your family comfortable during the warmest of days.
Give Your AC Unit a Break
An air conditioning unit works hard during the hot days of Summer. However, they have a tendency to freeze-up or even shut down completely.
We recommend shutting down your AC periodically to allow it a few hours of down time. A best practice is to turn off the unit during the night or early morning hours after a heat wave when your AC has needed to work at full capacity. This is a great time to give it a few hours of rest and ensure that it doesn't freeze-up.
Summer HVAC Maintenance Tasks
The following are some essential HVAC maintenance tasks for the summer:
- Your primary HVAC maintenance task in the Summer is to make sure your unit is handling the demand. Check on it periodically, especially during and after a hot spell.
- Remember to switch your unit off. An air conditioner that keeps running when turned off is a common problem and could mean you have a bigger problem.
- Change your filters.
- Maintain a 2-foot clearance around your unit for proper ventilation.
- Check the refrigerate lines for leaks.
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