Maintaining Your HVAC System
Most homeowners understand that maintenance of the heating & cooling systems are key, but many do not know where to start or why. Maintenance of the HVAC system is key to maintain optimal performance year-round. This means fewer furnace & air conditioner repair issues and extended equipment life.
By using this guide on furnace & air conditioner maintenance, you can keep your heating & cooling system running all year round.
Change Your Air Filter Regularly
ENERGY STAR™ recommends that you check your filter regularly, especially during heavy use months – summer and winter. While it is recommended that you change your filters every three months at minimum, ENERGY STAR™ recommends that "if the filter looks dirty after a month, change it…a dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool" (ENERGY STAR™). A clean filter also helps prevent dust & dirt buildup in the HVAC system - leading to expensive maintenance and/or early heating and cooling system failure.
Clean & Tune-Up Your System Regularly
Maintaining your equipment can prevent future problems, unwanted costs, and keep your heating and cooling system in peak performance year-round. Contractors get pretty busy around the summer and winter months, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall.
Regular Maintenance Check-upsA typical maintenance check-up should include the following:
- Check thermostat settings to ensure the HVAC system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away
- Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your air ventilation system and reduce the life of major components.
- Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use.
- Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.
- Check controls of the heating and cooling system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the HVAC system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
- Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the HVAC system's ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
- Check your central air conditioners refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make your cooling system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
- Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your air ventilation system's efficiency by up to 15 percent.
- Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.
Actions to Do Yourself
Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.
Source Documents & Further Research:
Energy Star's "Heating & Cooling Efficiently": http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac
Energy Star's "Maintenance Checklist": http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_maintenance