HVAC Maintenance 101: How To Avoid Unexpected Expenses

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    Technician is checking air conditioner

    Your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is crucial to maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. It’s a complex system with various components that require regular care and attention to ensure optimal performance. 

    Maintaining your HVAC system may help you prevent unexpected expenses. Conversely, failure to perform routine maintenance can result in inefficient operation, frequent breakdowns, and expensive repairs.

    In this article, you’ll uncover some maintenance tasks that can help you avoid unexpected expenses and ensure the longevity of your HVAC system—from scheduling professional inspections to replacing air filters, keeping the outdoor unit clean, and balancing airflow. So read on.

    • Check Your Homeowner’s Insurance

    Homeowner’s insurance may help reduce unexpected HVAC expenses. However, does homeowner insurance cover AC units? 

    HVAC systems are generally not covered by standard homeowners’ insurance policies. Homeowner’s insurance typically covers damage caused by perils such as fire, theft, severe weather, etc.

    However, some insurance policies may offer optional coverage for HVAC systems under specific circumstances, such as damage caused by a covered peril. 

    • Schedule Annual Professional Inspections 

    Having an HVAC technician inspect your system at least once a year is recommended. 

    Regular professional inspections are vital for ensuring the optimal performance of your HVAC system. These involve a comprehensive examination of all components, including the furnace, air conditioner, ventilation system, and thermostat. 

    Furthermore, the technician will identify any potential issues or signs of wear and tear that could lead to future problems. Addressing these issues early on can prevent expensive repairs later.

    • Replace Air Filters Regularly 

    Regularly replacing your air filters is one of the simplest yet crucial maintenance tasks. 

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    Air filters trap airborne contaminants—such as dust, pollen, and pet dander—preventing them from circulating through your home. Over time, these filters can become clogged, reducing airflow and forcing your HVAC system to work harder. This can lead to decreased efficiency, increased energy consumption, and increased health hazards.

    To avoid unexpected expenses, check your air filters monthly and replace them every 1–3 months, depending on the filter type and the level of contaminants in your home.

    • Keep The Outdoor Unit Clean 

    If you have a central AC, it has an outdoor unit that requires regular maintenance. Keep the area around the outdoor unit clean and clear of debris, leaves, and vegetation. Make sure there’s ample space around the unit for proper air circulation. 

    A clogged or obstructed outdoor unit can compromise its performance, reducing cooling capacity and increasing strain on the system. By keeping the outdoor unit clean and unobstructed, you can avoid potential breakdowns and unwanted repairs.

    • Clean And Inspect Vents and Ducts 

    Regularly cleaning and inspecting your vents and ducts is crucial for maintaining good indoor air quality and efficient HVAC operation. Over time, dust, dirt, and other debris can accumulate in the vents and ducts, obstructing airflow and reducing HVAC efficiency. 

    You may use a vacuum cleaner or a damp cloth to clean the vents and remove any visible dust. Or you may hire a professional duct cleaning service for a more thorough cleaning.

    Also, inspect the ductwork for leaks or gaps, which can lead to air leakage and inefficient heating or cooling.

    • Balance Airflow 
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    Proper airflow throughout your home is essential for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. If you notice uneven heating or cooling, it may indicate an airflow imbalance. 

    Start by checking the vents in each room, and ensure they are fully open and unobstructed. If the problem persists, consider adjusting the dampers in your ductwork to balance the airflow. 

    However, if you are unsure about how to do this, it’s advisable to consult an HVAC professional to avoid causing further damage to your system.

    • Upgrade To A Programmable Thermostat 

    Investing in a programmable thermostat can help optimize your HVAC system’s energy usage and reduce unnecessary expenses. With a programmable thermostat, you’ll be able to set different temperature schedules for different times of the day. 

    For example, you can program the thermostat to lower the temperature when you are away from home or asleep and raise it when you are back or awake. This way, you can avoid wasting energy and save money on electricity bills.

    • Maintain Outdoor Condenser Coils 

    The outdoor condenser coils of your AC are responsible for dissipating heat. Over time, these coils can become dirty or covered in debris, hindering heat transfer and reducing the system’s efficiency. 

    To prevent this, regularly inspect the outdoor condenser coils and clean them if necessary. Then, gently remove leaves, dirt, or other debris with a soft brush or hose. But be careful not to damage the fins or coil. 

    If you are unsure how to clean the coils properly, it is advisable to consult a professional HVAC technician.

    • Check Refrigerant Levels 
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    Refrigerant is the substance that absorbs and releases heat to provide cooling in your air conditioning system. If the refrigerant levels are too low, it can indicate a leak, which can lead to reduced cooling capacity and potential damage to your system. 

    Checking the refrigerant levels should be done by a professional HVAC technician because it requires specialized tools and expertise. Regularly monitoring and maintaining proper refrigerant levels can help prevent unexpected breakdowns and expensive repairs.

    • Be Mindful of Your System’s Age 

    Like any other appliance, HVAC systems have a lifespan. If your system is approaching or surpassing its expected lifespan, it may be more prone to breakdowns. Older systems may not have the same energy-saving features or technological advancements as newer models. 

    While regular maintenance can help prolong the life of your HVAC system, it is essential to consider its age and efficiency. If your system is outdated and constantly requires repairs, investing in a new, more energy-efficient unit may be more cost-effective in the long run. 

    Final Words

    Proper HVAC maintenance is crucial for avoiding unexpected expenses. By following these essential tips, you can prolong the life of your HVAC system, improve its efficiency, and avoid costly repairs. Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to HVAC maintenance.

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