Everything Homeowners Need to Know About HVAC Maintenance and Tune Ups
An important part of home ownership is HVAC maintenance. Just like the vehicles in your garage, your air conditioning and heating units need regular tune ups to continue running at their best. Williams Comfort Air details everything you need to know about HVAC maintenance – how and when to do it, and why it’s so important.
Does HVAC Equipment Require Annual Maintenance?
Heating and air conditioning equipment such as air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces are mechanical systems. As they operate, components sustain wear and tear – this is completely normal. To counteract this wear and tear and keep the HVAC system operating at its best, both where performance and energy efficiency are concerned, annual maintenance is required.
The number of tune ups a heating or cooling unit needs each year depends on its function.
- Equipment such as furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners need one tune up per year, as they perform a single function – heating or cooling.
- Heat pumps, including air source heat pumps and geothermal heat pumps, require two tune ups per year because they perform both heating and cooling functions for the home.
Think of it this way to stay on track – your home’s HVAC system needs one tune up for heating season and another one for cooling season. We recommend you schedule heating system tune ups in the fall and cooling system tune ups in the spring – this allows a technician to service the system prior to the start of the season, so your system is ready to go when you need it!
How Often Should You Do HVAC Maintenance?
Professional HVAC preventative maintenance should be performed on your system twice per year. In between visits from your technician, there are other tasks you should perform on a regular basis to help your heating and cooling equipment maintain optimal performance:
- Filter changes (check each month, change as needed or according to the manufacturer’s instructions)
- Clean exterior of outdoor condenser unit (as needed)
- Clean area surrounding indoor HVAC equipment (as needed)
- Test thermostat batteries (check monthly, change every 6 months or as needed)
- Test carbon monoxide detectors (check monthly, change batteries every 6 months)
What Is HVAC Preventative Maintenance?
HVAC preventative maintenance is a professional service performed by licensed heating and cooling technicians. This service includes full inspection and testing of system components as well as regular servicing for moving parts of the heating or cooling system.
HVAC preventative maintenance is designed to deliver the following benefits for homeowners:
- Better performance and energy efficiency
- Early detection of malfunctions
- Fewer system breakdowns
- Lower energy bills
- Longer system service life
- Intact warranty coverage
Problems That an HVAC Tune Up Can Help Prevent
An HVAC preventative maintenance tune up can help you prevent a variety of problems that could occur within your home’s heating or cooling systems. Regular servicing counteracts wear and tear to keep components in good shape. A trained eye’s inspection of your system allows minor flaws to be identified and corrected before they develop into serious repair needs or result in a system breakdown.
Some of the HVAC problems your tune up works to prevent include:
- Ignition system problems caused by dirty burners
- Thermostat malfunctions
- Blown internal fuses
- Tripped breakers
- Poor heat exchange
- Short cycling
- Damaged heat exchanger
- Water leaks
Do You Need a Technician to Provide the Maintenance Service?
Simple HVAC maintenance steps such as filter changes and exterior unit cleaning can be easily performed by any homeowner. However, these complex mechanical systems house many internal components that require specialized maintenance service. While it’s easy to complete some HVAC maintenance tasks yourself, leave the elements of a preventative HVAC maintenance tune up to your trusted heating and cooling contractor.
What Should Be Included in HVAC Maintenance
A professional HVAC maintenance tune up consists of many different steps. This service provides comprehensive care for all the elements of your heating and cooling system, to ensure it operates safely and correctly. To ensure your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump receives the best care, make sure your tune up includes the following steps.
For all HVAC equipment:
- Sequence of operation check
- Thermostat testing
- Review electrical connections
- Lubricate moving components
- Check disconnect power box
- Test fan control
- Measure and adjust airflow
- Amp and volt draw check
- Measure temperature rise and drop
- Inspect capacitor
- Inspect contactors
- Check breaker
For furnaces and boilers:
- Carbon monoxide testing and indoor air quality analysis
- Visual inspection of burners and heat exchanger
- Verify furnace safety controls
- Inspect gas connections
- Verify gas valve operation
- Verify gas pressure
- Inspect ignition system
- Inspect heating elements (electric furnaces)
- Inspect sequencer
- Inspect oil filter and nozzle (oil furnaces & boilers)
- Clean furnace cabinet
For air conditioners and heat pumps:
- Measure refrigerant charge
- Review refrigerant connections
- Check and clear condensate drain
- Clean condenser coil
- Inspect compressor and compressor terminals
- Inspect evaporator coil
- Verify operation of reversing valve (heat pumps)
- Verify defrost control (heat pumps)
- Clean air conditioner cabinet
How Do I Service My HVAC Unit?
Servicing your home’s heating and air conditioning unit is a multi-step process. First, make sure to schedule annual preventative maintenance tune ups for your HVAC equipment with your preferred HVAC contractor – one tune up for heating season and another tune up for cooling season. Make sure you take care of additional maintenance tasks throughout the year, including filter changes and cleaning the units.
What You Can Do vs. What A Professional Should Do
HVAC preventative maintenance is a big job – these mechanical systems are filled with various components that require specialized attention and delicate care. While it may be tempting to perform a tune up yourself, doing so could actually lead to system damage and performance problems if you don’t know what you’re doing.
As far as HVAC maintenance is concerned, you should have no problem performing filter changes and unit cleaning. As for everything else, leave these tasks in the trusted hands of a licensed heating and cooling technician.
How Do I Clean My HVAC System?
Basic cleaning of your HVAC system is simple. Both indoor and outdoor equipment benefit from cleaning, though you’ll likely find your outdoor components need cleaning more frequently as they are exposed to the elements. Cleaning your HVAC units facilitates proper airflow and removes harmful dust and dirt that can get sucked into the system.
Outdoor air conditioning condensers and heat pumps:
- Turn off power to your outdoor unit.
- Gently brush away all debris that have gathered up against the fins along the unit’s exterior. Remove grass clippings, mulch bits, twigs, and other natural particles as needed.
- You may use a vacuum brush or garden hose to clean away tough deposits from the fins.
- Remove any vegetation growing up against the outdoor unit and trim any branches or shrubs in the nearby area. You should leave a clear space of at least two feet surrounding the unit on all sides.
- Restore power once you have finished.
Indoor furnaces and air handlers:
- Remove the filter from the filter compartment and check to see if replacement is needed. Hold the filter up to a light – if no light shines through, it’s definitely time to replace it with a new one.
- Insert the new filter according to the airflow markings that are printed along its frame. Make sure the filter fits snugly inside the cabinet and is in the correct position.
- Use a soft cloth to gently wipe down the exterior of your furnace or air handler cabinet to remove dust.
- Clear away any items that are stored up against your indoor heating and cooling equipment – items should be kept at least 6 feet away, and never store flammable items anywhere near a furnace.
How Much Should HVAC Maintenance Cost?
HVAC maintenance costs are an ongoing investment into the performance and longevity of your home’s heating and air conditioning equipment. Professional HVAC preventative maintenance tune ups are affordable and the return on investment is well worth the price you pay for this annual service. For your yearly heating and cooling equipment tune ups, fees typically run between $75 to $150 per tune up. Prices vary between companies and many HVAC contractors offer specials that can provide additional savings on your scheduled maintenance service. If repairs are needed in addition to maintenance service, repair charges will be in addition to the tune up cost.
Are HVAC Maintenance Plans Worth It?
One great way to save on maintenance costs and make sure your HVAC systems stay protected with the regular service they need is to join an HVAC maintenance plan! Priority service plans, preventative maintenance agreements, membership plans – the name varies from one HVAC company to the next and so do the specifics, but these plans typically provide your annual heating and cooling tune ups plus other money-saving benefits.
Some of the perks of HVAC maintenance plan membership can include:
- Priority scheduling
- Extended repair warranties
- Discounts on diagnostics for repair service
- Discounts on HVAC repairs
- Savings on new equipment purchases
- And more!
Savings aren’t the only benefit of joining an HVAC maintenance plan – ensure your heating and cooling systems’ maintenance needs are always cared for with guaranteed annual HVAC maintenance tune ups. Many HVAC companies offer priority scheduling for maintenance plan members, and a representative will call you to schedule your upcoming tune up when it’s convenient. Never forget critical maintenance service again!
Following a consistent maintenance schedule offers unmatched benefits for your heating and cooling systems, and HVAC maintenance plan membership is one convenient way to make sure you stick to it! Your HVAC units receive the service they need, you benefit from the enhanced comfort, energy savings, and worry-free performance that comes with maintenance – plus great bonus savings opportunities, just for taking good care of your home’s heating and cooling equipment!
Schedule an HVAC Maintenance Tune Up Today
Don’t run the risk of breakdowns, poor performance, high energy bills, and other heating and cooling problems caused when you skip an essential maintenance tune up! Make sure to schedule your preventative maintenance tune ups in the spring and fall – call Williams Comfort Air to make an appointment that best fits into your schedule! Or, let us manage your system’s maintenance needs when you join our True Comfort Membership plan!