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The Importance of HVAC Maintenance

 When asked if they’d like to take an HVAC maintenance contract, many homeowners will ask, “Is HVAC maintenance necessary?” The answer is yes, because the HVAC system in your home is crucial in your family’s comfort year round. This makes HVAC maintenance crucial too to ensure that it is working properly at the maximum capacity. 

There are two types of HVAC maintenance. One type is you, the homeowner, and it is a matter of being proactive as a preventive measure. The other type of HVAC maintenance is by a professional HVAC technician.

What maintenance is required for HVAC?

There are several things that could happen to an HVAC system. With a routine pattern by you and with a professional technician of HVAC maintenance, these things can be caught before they get too bad or expensive. From corrosion and leaks to the distribution of the air and clogged coils and filters. 

Three HVAC problems that require regular attention by you as part of an HVAC maintenance routine are: 

  1. Leaks: All HVAC systems have connectors and drain lines that are susceptible to developing leaks if not maintained. As a homeowner, your part of HVAC maintenance is to keep a watch for any leaks from the drain line or the refrigerant lines as you perform the monthly HVAC maintenance steps we’ll discuss later.
  2. Corrosion: Moisture can be a good thing and it can also cause corrosion if the wrong surfaces have moisture, like terminals and wires within your HVAC. This usually happens because there is a leak within the system. This makes the system work harder and less efficient, eventually leading to a breakdown. When you notice any corrosion during your monthly HVAC maintenance steps, you’ll need to call a professional technician for inspection. 
  3. Debris and Dirt: Every component of an HVAC system needs to be kept clean and free of debris and dirt. This includes the electrical parts, the air filter, and everything around and in between. A dirty and dusty HVAC has to work hard, making it less efficient and compromising the quality of the air in your home. Your monthly part of HVAC maintenance is to keep the unit as clean and dust free as possible, starting with changing or cleaning the air filter.

What should be included in HVAC maintenance?

A professional HVAC maintenance should include the following:

  • Cleaning condenser and evaporator coils
  • Check the refrigerant and test for leaks
  • Adjust and clean blower components 
  • Examine burners, heating elements, and pilot light as applicable
  • Check all electrical components, wiring, and voltage
  • Lubricate any moving parts
  • Check the thermostat reading
  • Check the system is shutting off/on correctly with thermostat
  • Check fan belt and motor are working smoothly
  • Check the filter
  • Inspect the outdoor component

How do you do preventive maintenance on HVAC?

The following HVAC maintenance tasks will mitigate the possibility of any issues or problems with an HVAC system for a homeowner:

Monthly

  • Inspect the system for leaks around the refrigerant and drain line.
  • Check that all visible indoor and outdoor components are free of debris and dust. 
  • Make sure there is 2 feet of open space around all the components, indoor and outdoor.
  • Clean or replace the air filter. Consider upgrading to a high-efficiency filter. 

Seasonally

  • Turn the water to the furnace humidifier off at the start of summer.
  • Replace the humidifier filter then turn the water back on at the start of fall.

Annually

  • Replace the batteries in the programmable thermostat and CO detectors.
  • Lubricate the HVAC motor and check the fan belt, if worn, replace it. 
  • Clean the condensation drain line with a mixture of bleach/water. 
  • Check that the outdoor component is clear of any debris, grass, or leaves, and is sitting level.

Is annual HVAC maintenance necessary?

And how often does HVAC need maintenance? The manufacturers of most HVAC systems suggest HVAC maintenance be taken care of once a year, some will suggest twice a year. However, most HVAC contractors will recommend and offer an HVAC maintenance agreement for every 2 years until the system reaches 10 years. Then an annual professional inspection is recommended, more if it is beginning to need repairs.

If you have an older system or you don’t know how old the system is, have it professionally inspected now. Then follow the advice of the technician for future HVAC maintenance schedules. 

How long does HVAC maintenance take?

A professional HVAC maintenance appointment will typically take one to two hours. There are some factors that can cause this to take longer such as the type of HVAC system, the size of your home, and how long it has been since you’ve had an HVAC inspection and maintenance. If it has been a while, the first appointment could take up to three hours. Thoroughness is important to have a well-operating HVAC system. 

close-up of a technician checking an HVAC unit

At The End of the Year

A question that many homeowners will wonder is an HVAC maintenance plan worth it?

The cost of individual maintenance and repair visits can add up over time. With an HVAC maintenance contract, the areas and components that frequently need repairs are inspected and maintained with the intention of not needing those individual maintenance and repair service calls. 

An HVAC maintenance service contract will usually be offered in the following manners: 

  • An HVAC maintenance contract that covers labor only with any parts being extra. This type of contract is typical of an annual or semiannual program and includes overall checkups, cleaning, and adjustments to the equipment.
  • An HVAC maintenance contract that covers labor costs for planned and unplanned inspection, maintenance, and repairs.
  • HVAC maintenance contracts that cover labor costs for maintenance and repair visits and include the costs of most parts.

Coverage will vary within these categories with each company and may or may not include both air conditioning and heating, or they may include both. You want to clarify what the contract is offering before signing on the line. An HVAC maintenance service contract should provide you a peace of mind with the preventive maintenance steps, priority service for breakdowns, and a reduced cost for any sizable repairs needed. 

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