HVAC Maintenace: Why It Matters and Information for Better Efficiency this Winter

Winter is almost officially here, and temperatures are on their way down. It’s always important to be mindful of how your heating and cooling equipment is functioning. This is something to keep in mind all year long, but right now is an especially important time to consider HVAC maintenance. Why? To keep your system running efficiently, minimize the risk of problems, save money, and keep your household safe.

Nobody wants to come home from a long day to a cold home. Here is a quick guide to HVAC maintenance to help you avoid any incidents with your HVAC system this winter. As you’ll see, some of these items can be done on your own. Others are best left to professional HVAC technicians. These are included below to help you understand how your HVAC equipment works – and why system maintenance is so important.

Cleaning Checklist

First off, a little bit of general housekeeping. While your heating system is off duty over the warmer months, things can get a bit dusty. This checklist lays out what you need to clean in and around your HVAC system to keep it running smoothly.

  1. Vents and Registers
    Get in there with a vacuum to clear out any lint, dust, or dirt that could be occluding the airflow. It’s also important to make sure that the registers aren’t blocked by carpets, furniture, etc. You should do this at least once a year – and if it’s just once, now is the time to do it.
  2. Outside Unit
    The surrounding area should be free of debris. Clear away any leaves, hose off any dirt buildup from the outside of the unit, and briefly wipe down its surfaces. Make sure plants are at a distance of at least a few feet to give the unit some breathing room. This should always be the case year-round.
  3. Replace Air Filters
    Your HVAC air filters should ideally be changed out every month. Inspect them each month and at the very least clean them when you do – but chances are they could stand to be replaced if it’s been over 30 days. The number of pets (and humans) in the house factors into how quickly a filter will accumulate dirt and start to clog. Proper airflow will keep your equipment happy, increase its lifespan, and reduce the chance of failure. A monthly replacement of your HVAC air filters is an investment in preventing costly issues down the line. It also helps maximize energy efficiency (and minimize balances on energy bills).

Annual Maintenance

It’s time to step aside and give your HVAC equipment the gift of a professional tune-up. It’s best to schedule regular maintenance for your heating system before the winter season fully kicks into gear. This allows it to function to the best of its ability as it transitions into months of consistent usage.

Some parts of your HVAC system need to be addressed by a professional. For instance: your heat exchanger should be inspected for cracks or corrosion, to minimize the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. Your heat pump’s condenser coils need to be inspected and cleaned, and your evaporator coil needs to be checked for mold. Worn or broken parts may need to be replaced before they can cause damage. Equipment may be polluted with debris, mildew, or even decomposing animals. To get the most out of your heating and air conditioners, you need to have annual maintenance performed in both the spring and the fall.

Here are a few more of the things your HVAC heating maintenance tune-up will involve…
  • Lubricating Moving Parts
    If there is too much friction occurring within the moving parts of your system, the strain of this resistance can cause problems. For one thing, it requires additional electricity to work. If unattended in this condition, parts can overheat and give out. Lubricating these parts smooths out the process and reduce the amount of energy required to operate.
  • Checking Fuel Line Connections
    Gas or oil connections need to be checked and tightened. They should be safely snug to ensure optimal fire safety. Flammability aside, fumes can be dangerous for your health, so checking these connections is another important concern.
  • Checking Electrical Connections
    Electrical connections within your equipment can also loosen over periods of usage. Your HVAC technician will ensure these connections are firmly tightened, with no wiggle room to speak of. Readings will be taken of the voltage and current of your equipment’s motors to confirm the strength of the connections. Loose connections can be dangerous to your equipment, so this is a crucial part of preventative maintenance.
  • Condensate Drain Inspection
    Condensing furnaces create condensate, which is collected and drained. This drain needs to be inspected to prevent buildup or blockage. Sludge can block the drain, which can overflow and damage the equipment.

This Winter, Be Prepared

Take good care of your HVAC system so it can take good care of you. You want your equipment to last as long as possible, working as effectively as possible. You want cost-effective solutions to any problems – and you want as few problems as possible. In short, you want the best possible value, and the best possible experience, from your HVAC system. This is why HVAC maintenance is so important.

If you notice anything strange happening with your system – strange noises, odors, puddles, abnormal energy usage, or any kind of malfunctioning – you should contact an expert as soon as possible. You don’t want a small issue turning into an expensive problem, especially when the winter cold is at its most brutal. Before problems of neglected equipment get the chance to appear, schedule your annual HVAC maintenance this fall. If you’re located in South Jersey, you won’t find a better cleaning, tightening, and tuning from anywhere but Laury Heating Cooling & Plumbing.

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