Ounce of Prevention, Pound of Cure
You’re probably familiar with the old adage, “if you take care of your tools, they’ll take care of you.” Well, the same can be said for your HVAC system - a little TLC in the form of intermittent check-ups and preventative maintenance can ensure a comfortable home for upwards of 20 years. Preventative maintenance is beneficial because a small problem can be quelled before it morphs into a major quagmire, potentially doing irreparable harm to the unit while putting a hurt on your wallet. This type of upkeep is of the do-it-yourself variety, requiring little elbow grease and a tiny fraction of your time.
1. Filter Replacement - This is the Holy Grail of HVAC upkeep. Dirty filters inhibit airflow, thus stressing and straining the unit, causing it to work harder. Be sure to check the filter each month. Most contractors recommend installing a new one every 30 to 90 days depending on variables like pets, dust, pollen, etc.
2. Clean Vents & Registers - These spots are dust magnets. To prevent dust and allergens from circulating through the system simply vacuum with a brush attachment, then wipe them down with a damp rag for good measure.
3. Inspect Outdoor Unit - Outside it’s necessary to keep the unit clear of debris. Leaves, dirt, sticks, pollen, and grass clippings are only some of the things that hinder airflow. Remove all of this material. Even a quick rinse with the hose will expel any pollen or dirt. Also, make sure to maintain a clearance of at least 2 feet between the system and any plants or bushes nearby that could hamper air circulation.
Know when to call the professionals
An HVAC apparatus is a complex system that utilizes sometimes dangerous elements, such as electricity, gas, and refrigerants, which are best left to experienced professionals for handling. Ideally, it’s best to have an HVAC technician inspect the unit before each heating and cooling season. Oftentimes, a warranty will mandate such inspection. Professionals can look over ductwork, diagnose unusual noises, clean coils, analyze lines and hoses, and so on. Just like a car needs timely oil changes or tune-ups to run efficiently, an HVAC unit requires the same provisions to ensure it operates at peak performance.