First-time homeowners may be surprised by how much upkeep a home requires. Maintenance of vital home systems – like plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) – can be intimidating. The more you know about HVAC basics, the more prepared you’ll be to maintain this system.
It’s important to know which tasks are DIY (do-it-yourself) and which repairs and maintenance should be managed by your local HVAC professionals.
DIY HVAC Basics
Always keep your outdoor HVAC compressor/condenser clean and free from debris. Check inside and remove grass clippings, leaves, etc. This can prolong the life of your unit.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is now recognized as having a big impact on our health. As a homeowner, the most important HVAC task is regularly changing your air filter. The air filter traps impurities and particulates; if it becomes blocked, your HVAC unit works twice as hard. As a result, your IAQ is not great and could even be dangerous to your health.
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If you are using a high-quality air filter, change it at least every 3 months. If you use a budget-brand air filter or someone in your home suffers from allergies or respiratory distress, change it every month. Here’s how:
- Shut off HVAC unit.
- Remove air filter access panels.
- Remove old filter.
- Find printed arrows on new filter.
- Insert new filter/close access panel.
- Turn HVAC system on.
Changing the air filter often can prolong the life of your HVAC unit. The filters don’t cost much, and HVAC repair that can result from not changing them can be expensive.
Professional HVAC Maintenance
Here in the Phoenix area, we don’t have many winter-weather extremes. Still, semi-annual – fall and spring – professional HVAC maintenance is critical. It’s one of the most important HVAC basics for homeowners.
What we do during your spring and fall maintenance visits:
- Adjust blower components for proper airflow.
- Check controls and equipment cycling to ensure it starts, runs, and shuts off properly.
- Check refrigerant charge, look for any leaks, and add more refrigerant.
- Clean the blower (if needed).
- Clean the outdoor condenser coil and the indoor evaporator coil. (Dirt on the coils causes your HVAC system to run longer and work harder. This raises energy bills and reduces your unit’s lifespan.)
- Ensure electrical connections are intact.
- Inspect condensate drain for obstructions/leaks.
- Inspect duct systems.
- Lubricate moving parts to avoid motor friction.
- Measure current/voltage on system motors.
- Test thermostat settings.
When Should You Replace Your HVAC System?
First-time homeowners can also be surprised to learn regular maintenance is more affordable than they thought. It’s certainly worth it; you can save on energy bills because your HVAC unit will continue to operate with maximum efficiency. Even better, your HVAC system-life can be extended.
Energy.gov says the lifespan of a typical central air unit is 15-20 years. But with so many technological improvements, it might be a good investment to consider upgrading your HVAC unit now, especially if you see signs you need repairs. New units are about 15% more efficient than older systems so the ROI (return on investment) could be substantial.
Learn More About HVAC Basics
If you live in the Phoenix area, Forrest Anderson Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, Inc. is your local HVAC and plumbing company. Since 1946, we’ve helped homeowners keep their HVAC systems in good working order. Our technicians receive continuous training to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and innovations for residential and commercial HVAC.
If you need help with the HVAC basics or you have a bigger issue with your system, contact Forrest Anderson today. Be sure to request a free quote for regular maintenance to keep your home – and your family – healthy.