If you’re the owner of a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, chances are you’d like to take care of it. But wanting to take care of something and actually doing it are two different things. Owning an HVAC system takes DIY HVAC preventative maintenance if you want it to keep running for years to come.
HVAC systems consist of either a furnace and air conditioner, or a heat pump, and both kinds need to be regularly maintained. Each type also includes interior and exterior units.
The many components of an HVAC system may have you intimidated, but maintenance can actually be pretty simple.
Here are seven DIY HVAC preventative maintenance tasks you should be doing if you want to keep your system up and running.
1. Monitor Your Air Filters
One of the easiest and most effective DIY HVAC preventative maintenance procedures you can perform is keeping your air filters clean.
Dirty filters prevent your HVAC system from running efficiently. If filters get dirty, air is restricted, which makes your blower motor work harder than needed. If the motor has to work hard, it’s lifespan is reduced.
Regularly check and replace air filters. Doing this every 30 to 90 days is a good idea, though you may need to check more often. Pets, dust, and open windows may add particles and debris that require more frequent filter changes.
At the very least you should change your filters twice a year. Do this once before the heating season, and once before cooling season. Though, ideally, you should be changing your filters more frequently!
Using a better filter means you’ll filter more particles, even tiny bacteria-carrying ones, from the air. But you’ll also have to change these filters more often since they’re catching more material.
2. Clean Ducts and Registers
Keep your ducts and registers clean to help your HVAC system run smoothly. All sorts of gunk can get trapped in registers, so pull that stuff out. And dust, in particular, will line your home’s ducts.
Keeping your air ducts clean helps your heating system last longer. You also won’t have to dust as often, and the air in your home will be cleaner. This is an especially helpful benefit for any families that have allergies.
Clean ducts using a regular household vacuum or a “Shop Vac” and remove all dust and debris from registers. Wipe down all registers when you’re finished to prevent dust and particles from being blown into your home.
Though you can do a good job on your own, you’ll likely need to call a professional to get your ducts 100% clean.
3. Clear Debris From Outdoor Units
Due to their location, outdoor units are likely to catch all sorts of debris that can hamper HVAC performance. Clean all leaves, pollen, dirt, and sticks from the unit regularly, using gloves and hose if needed.
During mowing season, position your mower so grass clippings won’t get in the HVAC unit.
You may need to remove the cage or fan grill to completely clean debris from your unit. If you do this, make sure you turn off power to the unit first!
You should also make sure the unit is level and leave a two-foot debris-free area around the unit. Freeing up your outdoor unit helps it perform more efficiently and maximizes air flow.
4. Check Your Evaporator Drain
The evaporator coil in your HVAC system absorbs heat from the air, cools it, then releases that air back into your home. During this process, humidity from the air condenses to water and is left to drip down a drain.
This drain can become clogged by algae and mold, so it’s good to check it occasionally. Pouring a mixture of water and bleach down the drain once a year can help prevent algae and mold growth.
If your drain is plugged, clean it out to prevent flooding. Some systems prevent flooding on their own by stopping the cooling process. To prevent that, keep the drain clear.
5. Use Fans Occasionally
While it’s tempting to always use your AC, give your system by using fans from time to time. Both ceiling fans and portable fans work well for this. Both can lower the temperature of a room.
If the weather is on the cooler side, simply open your windows to get the air flowing.
Don’t use your HVAC system if you don’t need to. Using other DIY HVAC preventative maintenance options will help extend the life of your system, as well as save you some cash when your energy bills come in.
6. Give Your Humidifier a Break
Did you know that your furnace uses a humidifier? It does! And its water supply doesn’t need to be on all the time.
During summer months, turn off the water supply and replace the humidifier pad with a new one. When cooler months start coming around, set your relative humidity to between 35 and 45 percent, then turn your humidifier and water supply back on.
7. Call a Professional
While we’d sometimes like to do everything ourselves, sometimes you just have to call a professional. Your HVAC system is one of those situations where this is true. Do all you can, but don’t skip your regular professional maintenance checkup.
Check your unit’s warranty. An annual professional checkup may be required to keep your warranty valid.
Professional maintenance covers those extra tasks you can’t do yourself. It also helps prevent surprise breakdowns throughout the year.
DIY HVAC Preventative Maintenance: Don’t Skip It
While it may seem time consuming and pointless, DIY HVAC preventative maintenance can really go a long way.
Performing regular small jobs, such as changing an air filter, can extend the life of your HVAC system. It will also lower your energy bill by helping your system run more efficiently.
Don’t do it all on your own, though. Involve a professional to make sure your HVAC system lasts as long as possible.
We would love to help improve your HVAC system’s performance. Visit our site to schedule services today.
Luke Cooper is the General Manager of the Cooper Green team and son of Gary Cooper, owner and CEO of Cooper HVAC. After years in the field, Luke took his talents to management and has helped thousands of Colorado homeowners during hot summers and frigid winters. His decade of experience in the field and guiding the company makes him one of the most knowledgeable individuals in Colorado on HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other home services.