Annual HVAC Maintenance Timeline
Unlike other appliances that need maintenance once a year, heating and cooling systems need attention more often. There are a handful simple HVAC maintenance tasks that you can perform on your own to keep the system efficient and at peak performance. Others require an HVAC specialist. By knowing what tasks to do and when, you’ll prolong the system’s life, save energy and have the opportunity to catch minor problems before they become expensive headaches.
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HVAC Maintenance Checklist
Throughout the Year
- Landscaping: Keep the area around the outside units clean and free of debris and tall grass. Trim back plants, trees and shrubs so they’re about three feet away from the equipment. When leaves and pine needles fall, or pollen coasts the equipment, gently brush them away. In addition, keep toys, furniture, bikes and garden supplies a few feet away from equipment.
- Visual inspection: Regularly inspect your HVAC system for issues that require a professional’s attention, such as dirty evaporator or condenser coils, damaged fins, water leaks or frozen coils. In addition, pay attention to how the system sounds. Call an expert if you notice new or strange sounds or vibrations.
- Change the air filters: Replace the air filters in your HVAC equipment at least once every three months to promote proper airflow. If you have the manufacturer’s instructions available, follow its recommendations regarding the frequency with which to change the filters. Keep in mind that when there are cold snaps or heat waves, which place a heavier burden on your equipment, it might be a good idea to change the filters more often, such as once a month during the respective season.
- Thermostat: As temperatures change, adjusting your thermostat will help prevent overloading your HVAC system and wasting energy. When the weather gets warm, set the thermostat to the “Cool” function. In the fall or winter, set it to the “Warm” or “Heat” function. As the temperatures change, ensure that the set point temperature isn’t hotter than the conditions outside or room temperature during the spring and summer. During the winter, the set point temperature should not be cooler than the room temperature or the temperature outside. If you are not sure about how to program the thermostat, you are not alone. Call an HVAC expert to do it for you while giving you a tutorial.
- Electrical connections: Disconnected, loose or broken connections compromise a system’s safety and efficiency. If you can’t simply plug a loose connection back into the appropriate spot, call an HVAC contactor.
Fall and Winter
- Professional heating system maintenance: In the fall, hire an HVAC expert for the heating system’s annual maintenance and inspection. During the inspection, the professional will check the electrical connections and voltage, condensate drain, exhaust outlets, fuel lines, burners, heat exchangers and other components. He or she will also lubricate moving parts and address areas of concern.
- Carbon monoxide detector: If you use natural gas or oil for your heating system, replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector and test it to ensure that it works well. Replace the detector every five years.
- Furnace: Replace the humidifier wick and turn on the water supply in the fall.
- Ice: Dust off snow that accumulates on your outdoor HVAC equipment. If you see a bit of ice forming on the units, this is usually OK. If sheets or blocks of ice form on them, immediately call an expert. Do not try to melt the ice.
Spring and Summer
- Professional cooling system maintenance: Before the weather warms in the spring, hire an HVAC expert to inspect the A/C. The professional will inspect the connections, voltage, lines, fins, pans, coils, refrigerant levels, blower system components and more. He or she will also lubricate moving parts, clean dirty components and calibrate the blower.
- Inspect the A/C refrigerant lines: Find the two copper lines that go into the A/C condenser and identify the larger line (it might have insulation covering it). During the spring and summer, the line will feel cold or have condensation on it if refrigerant levels are sufficient. If the line does not have condensation on it or it does not feel cold to the touch, call a professional right away. Low refrigerant levels are one of the top causes of A/C failures. Check the refrigerant lines monthly when you use the A/C.
- Furnace: Turn off the water supply to the furnace when you stop using it in the spring.
HVAC problems never happen at convenient times. Regular maintenance helps you avoid them while prolonging the system’s life. Even if you are talented at all things DIY, don’t get too carried away. Always hire a licensed HVAC contractor to perform annual maintenance and repairs on your HVAC system to prevent accidentally voiding active warranties. Get in touch with AAA Heating & Cooling today to schedule a maintenance appointment.