As a homeowner, there is a long list of annual to-dos on your maintenance checklist. Luckily, you can perform many tasks yourself to save time, money, and hassle. However, when it comes to HVAC units, there is a fine line between general maintenance and trying to fix something you shouldn’t. Homeowners should be careful never to cross into “expert” territory, as it could result in them voiding their warranty, breaking their HVAC system, or, worst case, hurting themselves. Today, we are sharing our top HVAC maintenance tips for homeowners and when you should call the pros.
HVAC Maintenance Tips for Homeowners
Set the Thermostat’s Temperature & Schedule
One of the easiest HVAC maintenance tips homeowners can perform is properly setting their thermostat temperature and schedule. There is an optimal temperature and schedule to set for your unit depending on the brand of the unit, the time of day, the season, and your personal comfort preferences to ensure the most manageable requirements for your unit while saving on energy costs. Investing in a smart or programmable thermostat makes this a quick and easy project for homeowners.
Change the Air Filter on a Schedule
Another one of the top HVAC maintenance tips is to change your air filter according to the schedule recommended by your user manual. Depending on your HVAC system, this could be monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Additionally, depending on your home requirements, you may need to change it more or less. We recommend starting by following the recommended schedule in your user manual. If you find that your HVAC filter is particularly clean or far too dirty, you can adjust your schedule to accommodate.
Remove Dust & Items from the HVAC Unit
You would be amazed at how quickly dust and grime can accumulate on an HVAC unit. We recommend cleaning away the dust and dirt you can see on a regular basis. You must also ensure that nothing is blocking your HVAC unit; sometimes, items can be put on or against the unit when they shouldn’t.
The same applies to HVAC units located outside; you will want to keep your HVAC unit as clean as possible and clear of any potential debris to ensure quality performance. This includes regularly cleaning the condenser and coils, but make sure to follow the instructions carefully and use the recommended cleaning products, or else you could damage the unit.
Keep the Air Vents Open & Vacuumed
Contrary to what your mom or dad may have told you, closing specific air vents in your home does not result in cost savings, but it can actually decrease the longevity of the unit. Vents need to be open so as to relieve pressure and allow cool air to circulate into the unit properly.
Plus, it is crucial to vacuum those vents to remove dust regularly. While some talented DIYers may be able to perform a complete clean-out of the vents, we will address that further down.
Prepare Your Home to Prevent Excess HVAC Work
It may seem surprising, but a proven way to actually decrease energy costs is to take energy-saving action that doesn’t involve the HVAC system. The following suggestions help to ease the strain on the HVAC unit by assisting the home in naturally regulating temperatures:
- Identifying and repairing any holes, cracks, gaps, or failing weather stripping around windows, doors, ceilings, walls, fixtures, outlets, and more.
- Installing high-quality insulation
- Utilizing ceiling fans
- Investing in quality window coverings to prevent escaping heat/cooling
- Performing heat-intensive activities (like using the oven) at appropriate times
We suggest you review the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tips on Saving Money and Energy in Your Home for more information on home energy-saving tricks.
Clean the Condensate Drain Line
The last of the home HVAC maintenance tips we recommend for homeowners is to clean the condensate line. All this involves is detaching the line and pouring in a cup of vinegar or bleach to prevent the line from getting clogged. If you are uncomfortable doing it yourself the first time, a family member likely knows how to do it, or you can ask your HVAC professional to show you how the next time they perform a service call.
When Homeowners Should Call an HVAC Professional
Even the most frugal and crafty homeowners need to recognize when to call an HVAC specialist. For the following three, we recommend skipping the online HVAC repair tips and calling your local specialist to ensure you keep your unit safe and under warranty.
When Inspections are Needed
First, inspections must always be performed by a trained and certified HVAC specialist. Whether buying or selling a home or trying to solve a mystery clanking sound, you should never poke around an HVAC unit. HVAC specialists know the ins and outs of every machine so that they can get to the bottom of any mystery with ease.
When the Unit Needs Service or Repairs
Say that clanking, banging sound, or that weird smell is coming from your HVAC unit. A trained specialist should perform all maintenance services and repairs. While homeowners can change an air filter, digging into an HVAC unit can be both dangerous to the individual and the machine if done improperly. We are talking fire, gas leaks, and electrocution….not worth it! Skip the risk and contact your local service provider. Plus, take a moment to learn what is considered an HVAC emergency, so you know if you need to call for a quick service request.
Performing Deep Cleans of HVAC Units
While homeowners could perform deep cleans of part of an HVAC system, like the vent system, that typically means they need the skill and sense to pull the unit apart AND put it back together again. Rather than risking a lost screw or a misplaced piece, it is better to hire a professional crew to perform a deep cleaning of your systems. Typically it is recommended every three to five years, depending on your home environment.
Apollo Heating & Air Conditioning Service Options
Apollo Heating & Air offers our clients 24/7 access to our factory-trained and certified HVAC technicians for troubleshooting, diagnostics, maintenance, repair, and replacement of HVAC equipment and systems. To schedule an HVAC service in Tri-Cities and the surrounding Eastern Washington, please complete our service request form.