HVAC is necessary year-round; HVAC systems help us keep warm in the winter and cool during the summer. An air conditioner can be under plenty of strain with continuous usage, eventually breaking down. To help prevent this from happening, it’s good to perform routine preventative maintenance and stop a problem before it happens. Apart from HVAC system repairs, completely replacing an air conditioner can be costly. So, we’ve put together 6 Tips to Help Prevent Costly HVAC Repairs. This guide will help to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your system now and in the future. With a combination of preventative maintenance performed by a professional and doing your part, you can help prevent costly repairs, keep your maintenance costs lower, and get the most life out of your HVAC system.
6 Must-know Tips to Prevent Costly HVAC Maintenance
1. Clean the Outdoor Coil
Outdoor coils on HVAC systems can get noticeably dirty, causing the system to work harder to create the desired cold and warm air you want in your home. Cleaning the outdoor coil can reduce the likelihood of damage to the system’s internal components. Removing debris or plant growth from the top and sides of your outdoor HVAC system will allow air to flow freely through the outdoor coil.
Use your garden hose on the outdoor coil fins, ensuring that you get in-between the crevices to get all the gunk out. Careful not to fold the fins over!
2. Check the Filter
One of the most common reasons for air conditioner repair is a dirty air filter. Changing the filter is one of the easiest HVAC maintenance tasks to improve the air conditioner’s efficiency, reduce energy costs of heating and cooling the home, and decrease the chance of needing repairs due to inadequate airflow.
Check your filter monthly to ensure it isn’t dirty or clogged. Changing the filter once every month should be suitable depending on your filtration setup. If it looks dirtier than usual, replace it at once, especially if your households have pets.
The AC filter can cause the system to freeze if it is too dirty. When the system thaws, it can potentially cause water damage.
If you have a reusable filter, clean it gently with a soft cloth. After that, add some mild soap and water.
If it’s not reusable, buy a new one. If your family or employees have allergies, it’s good to get a HEPA or hypoallergenic filter. These filters will help filter allergens in the air.
3. Regular or Annual Professional Check-Ups
A check-up is an on-site visit from an HVAC technician who will examine the HVAC system and ensure that it operates at optimum performance. The inspection should include:
• Ensuring the fan is working correctly
• Cleaning the coils
• Checking (or possibly changing) the air filter
• Cleaning drain lines
• Checking the refrigerant level
• Checking for leaks in the heat exchanger
A check-up can be a one-time event or provided yearly as part of regularly scheduled maintenance.
Schedule a professional check-up twice a year. Once for a cooling check-up and once for a heating check-up. Making this part of your regular routine helps prevent HVAC systems from breaking down when they’re needed most, during the high summer and winter months.
When your HVAC system is serviced, all the components will be cleaned and inspected to work at their optimal best, thereby preventing costly energy bills, not to mention expensive, unexpected repair bills.
4. Clean the Drain Lines
An air conditioner and cooling take out the moisture from the air. This moisture then accumulates within the drain lines of the air conditioner and is directed outside. Over time, with the accumulation of dirt and dust, the drain lines can become clogged and even be a home for algae and microbial growth.
It is also good to periodically clean the drain line if it is accessible and has a proper cleanout installed. In some situations, this will need to be performed by a professional and should take place during your check-up.
5. Keep the Outdoor Unit Clear
The outdoor unit is exposed to weather and other environmental factors such as dirt and debris. Furthermore, growth and vegetation can cover the outdoor unit over time and prevent the air from being exhausted from the system effectively. Sometimes, the branches and leaves can even get inside the outdoor unit and interfere with the fan’s ability to function smoothly and quietly.
It makes sense to maintain the area around the outdoor unit and trim any bushes or leaves that might need trimming. This is a DIY job, which does not take up much time, but can save you significant expenses later.
6. Get a SMART Thermostat
By making your HVAC system SMART, you can access additional features that can help with preventive maintenance updates and monitor your usage to operate your system more efficiently to maintain your desired comfort levels.
With other modes such as scheduling or WiFi, you can activate your HVAC systems depending on your set time or location. This ensures your HVAC system performs efficiently, does not run unnecessarily, and does not waste energy.
Why Is HVAC Maintenance Critical?
An HVAC system is like a car – it needs proper care and maintenance to function correctly and extend its lifespan. A properly working HVAC system will keep your home snug or cool for several years to come. But the pre-requisite for this longevity is HVAC maintenance, which is essential.
There are multiple benefits for keeping your HVAC system in top-notch condition:
1. Maintenance Can Lower Utility Bill
Reducing utility bills is one of the main reasons households and businesses should keep their HVAC systems well maintained. An HVAC unit operating efficiently, plus a home or business that is properly insulated, will result in less money spent on electricity, heating, and cooling costs. HVAC maintenance is also essential to help prevent the need for major repairs or complete system replacements.
2. Ensure Healthy Air with Maintenance
An adequately repaired HVAC unit will not only keep a home or business cozy and fresh, it will reduce problems with air quality. Cleaner filters and coils equate to better breathing for an entire household or office. Unmaintained HVAC units are a magnet for dirt, microbial growth, bacteria, and other pathogens that can cause or worsen existing respiratory problems for those living in the home or at the business.
3. Increase Your HVAC’s Lifespan
The better you maintain your HVAC unit, the longer that unit will be able to perform. Considering the astronomical amounts people spend on installing HVAC units, it makes sense to want to keep that unit operating in tip-top shape for many years.
4. Improve Efficiency with HVAC Maintenance
A more efficient HVAC system will cost less to run. Dirty or unmaintained units require twenty percent more energy to generate the same cooling or heating level as a perfectly maintained AC unit.
5. Fewer Emergency Repairs
Sadly, it’s a fact that HVAC units will require emergency repairs from time to time. Well-maintained units are less likely to break down during months of continuous use, namely the summer months from June through September and the colder winter months from December to March. Keeping your AC unit up to date with regular inspections and maintenance will reduce the worry that your HVAC will break down during the months you need it most and save you from HVAC maintenance costs in the future.
Households that do not schedule annual HVAC maintenance with a professional will experience a higher probability that the system will fail. The furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump may need replacing. If this happens, you will need to cough up anywhere between $8,000 – $15,000+ to replace your damaged unit(s). While this price can seem steep for many homeowners and businesses, the actual cost is dependent on:
• The size of the units
• The efficiency levels of the units
• The features/technology you choose
• The contractor chosen for the installation
Furnaces typically last much longer than AC units, meaning that if a household or business initially had these two units installed simultaneously and the AC is failing, likely, you don’t need to renew the furnace for another five or more years.
The best way to describe this is to think of the AC and furnace like conjoined twins; they each have their separate compartments, yet both utilize the indoor units (blower motor).
Suppose households or businesses spend additional funds on upgrading their existing AC and leave the furnace and blower motor as they are, instantly. In that case, you are wasting money since the AC is really only half-upgraded and won’t work as efficiently as it’s originally designed to do.
The tip here is that if you are required to upgrade to an AC unit with a SEER rating over 14+, it is best to update the furnace at the same time.
Good to know:
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) is a rating from 13 to 21+ that measures an AC unit’s efficiency. The higher the score, the more efficient an AC unit is at cooling your home or business and reducing your energy bills.
• AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is a percentage ranging from 80% to 100% that measures a furnace’s efficiency. The increase in the percentage number equates to how efficient the furnace works and reduces your energy bills.
Final Thoughts on Preventing HVAC Maintenance Costs
For many obvious reasons, HVAC preventative maintenance is essential. Scheduling routine examinations and following through on correcting minor problems will ensure you enjoy the luxury of a system without the concern of it failing. A well-maintained unit will have a reduced chance of having severe problems, meaning less hassle and unnecessary costs.
Don’t wait until winter storms or sweaty summers hit to ensure that your home HVAC system is in good working order. A little effort now will prevent a significant hassle during a mid-January snowstorm or a Fourth of July sweltering day. Also, with HVAC maintenance costs going through the roof, it is best to avoid them.
Consider professionals to handle your HVAC inspection and maintenance to lessen the burden and guarantee that everything is adequately maintained. Also, consider backing this up with regular cleaning and SMART devices to reduce the burden on your system and save thousands of dollars in the process.