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HVAC Care Tips For 2023

For many, the new year brings with it a slew of resolutions. An important part of your resolution list for the new year should be improvements to your living environment. One of the factors of maintaining clean air and a comfortable temperature for your indoor space includes keeping up with preventative maintenance and repair concerns to your HVAC system whether you have separate heater and air-conditioning systems or a combined HVAC unit. You can complete many of these maintenance tasks yourself while others may require the assistance of a qualified repair and installation technician.

Benefits of Properly Maintaining Your HVAC System

Keeping up with regular maintenance can help prolong the life of your heater or air-conditioning system and keep it running efficiently. It can help to save you money on your heating and cooling costs. A properly functioning HVAC unit also ensures that the air quality in your home is at its best. Finally, when you keep up with regular maintenance, you can catch potential issues before they turn into real problems that will cost you more in the long run.

Change Air Filters Regularly

Air filters collect dust and debris, preventing contaminants from entering your HVAC unit, which can clog parts, reduce efficiency or cause the system to stop working entirely. Additionally, it helps to keep your indoor air much cleaner. Filters come in different quality levels to provide you with a level of protection that suits your needs and your budget. However, no matter what type of filter you choose, read the directions on the package to see how often your filters should be replaced.

During seasons of regular use, filters should typically be changed about once a month. If your indoor environment tends to be dusty or if you notice significant dust on your filters more frequently, you can remove and vacuum them between replacements. When filters get clogged, the airflow to your system is diminished, which can decrease the unit’s efficiency and increase energy usage.

Permanent filters that don’t need replaced should be thoroughly dusted or vacuumed as often as directed by the manufacturer. If you notice residue, you can wash these filters in soapy water, rinse and allow to air dry all the way before putting them back into the unit.

Clean Vents and Registers

Maintaining proper airflow to and from your furnace or AC unit involves keeping vents or registers clean. Just like filters, these parts of your system need to remain free of dust and debris for better indoor air quality and proper working of your heating and cooling system.

You can keep these parts free of dust and dirt as a part of your overall seasonal cleaning by thoroughly dusting or vacuuming vents and registers before wiping down with a damp cloth dipped in a mild cleaning solution then rinsing with a cloth dipped in clean water. Allowing these parts to dry before using your heating and cooling system can prevent dust from collecting on damp surfaces due to air flow.

Check for Clogs in Ductwork

At least once a year, you should inspect your ducts for clogs or reduced airflow. Using a flashlight, look in as far as you can to see if there is a layer of dust that has collected inside. You can easily use a vacuum to clear out dust and dirt as far as you can reach. You may also wish to use a damp cloth on reachable areas as well.

It’s recommended to have a professional clean the entirety of your ductwork every two to three years. A trained technician has the proper equipment to reach completely into the ducts to remove any buildup that has accrued over time to keep an appropriate level of airflow while also providing you with better air quality for your indoor environment.

Keep Your Outdoor Unit Clean

If part of your heating and cooling system is set up outdoors, it’s important to keep the area around it clear of debris or items that could prevent enough airflow. Rake any leaves or sticks that start to collect around the unit, and vacuum areas on the unit itself where air goes in or out.

Covering this portion of the unit during seasons when it’s not in use can help to prevent accumulation of dirt and debris, making it easier to use when needed. Additionally, you can increase efficiency if you provide some form of shade for the unit during the warmer months if it’s in direct sunlight.

Check or Replace Your Thermostat

Make sure that your thermostat is reading the correct temperature and turning your system on and off when it should. Replace the batteries if your thermostat isn’t hardwired into your system.

If your thermostat isn’t reading temperature correctly or is more than 10 years old, it’s probably time to replace it. Today’s models are more efficient, and many can be programmed to turn on and off at set times so that your system doesn’t turn on as often when you won’t be at home or when you’re sleeping, which can save you money and wear and tear on your unit.

By setting your thermostat to a higher temperature in the winter and lower in the summer, you can also prolong the life of your heating and cooling system while saving money on energy bills.

Get Your System Inspected and Maintained Regularly

Unless you’re completely familiar with the workings of your heating and cooling system, it’s best to find a professional to inspect your unit on a regular basis. A qualified technician can make sure moving parts are properly lubricated and check for areas of concern to prevent a breakdown of the system in the future.

For example, AC maintenance may include cleaning drain lines, the condenser unit or evaporator coils and ensuring the refrigerant is at the proper level. Furnace maintenance may include cleaning the burner assembly, checking for gas pressure or leaks and checking belts and pulleys for damage.

It could be especially beneficial to have an HVAC professional perform regular maintenance if you notice that your unit isn’t running the way that it should, such as if you hear odd noises or notice off smells when your system is running. It can be difficult for someone who isn’t experienced to track down the source of an issue, so it’s often best to leave it to the professionals.

Replace Your Heating and Cooling System

If your unit is old and hasn’t been running efficiently in while or you notice that your utility bills are increasing, it could be time to completely replace your system. Contact your local HVAC specialist for more information on an energy-efficient model that can save you money while improving your indoor air quality.

Replacing your system is like an investment that will pay for itself over time. However, you may be able to save money by purchasing your new system and having it installed out of season. Contact an experienced HVAC professional to find out about specials and deals that they may offer throughout the year.

Related Tasks to Complete

In addition to HVAC-specific maintenance, there are some other tasks that you can complete for safety and increased efficiency of your heating and cooling system that are great to attend to in the new year.

Check Your Detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are only helpful if you keep them in good working order. Be sure to check them at least every six months and replace the batteries at this time if the units take them. If you have a detector with a long-life battery that doesn’t require regular replacement, make sure that you replace the unit when recommended or if your safety check fails to produce results.

For detectors that are hard wired into your system, make sure to contact a professional for repair or replacement if your detectors fail to function during your safety checks.

Inspect Your Insulation

Insulation is designed to help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, but leaks can occur if there are any gaps or missing insulation. Depending on the type of insulation in your home, you may be able to readjust to connect gaps. However, you may need to purchase additional insulation in some cases if it has shrunk over time.

When working with certain types of insulation, protect yourself by wearing gloves and clothing that covers your skin. Additionally, you may wish to wear a face mask to prevent inhaling loose particles. Once you’re finished, changing your clothes can prevent the spread of smaller contaminants. If you’re not comfortable doing the job yourself, it’s best to contact a professional to do it for you.

Keep an Eye on Your Energy Bills

Whether you use gas, electric or another form of fuel for your heating and cooling system, decreased efficiency can show up as an increase in your energy bill. If you notice your bill is higher, check the amount of energy that has been used. This information should be available for you to see on your bill.

If you notice that you’re using more energy and haven’t directly changed your usage, such as by running your system higher or more frequently, this could be a sign that you need to have your system inspected by a professional to check for problems and get any necessary repairs completed.

Schedule Your Tune-Ups

If you keep up with regular maintenance, you’re less likely to experience a complete breakdown of your heating and cooling system when you need it the most. It’s generally recommended that you have AC maintenance completed in the spring and furnace maintenance in the fall so that you can go into the season confident that your system will be working the way that it should to make your home or office environment more comfortable all year long.