As time passes even a highly efficient HVAC system shows signs of aging. By neglecting your HVAC system you not only open the door to inefficient performance and expensive malfunctions, but also health hazards due to unclean air circulating in your living space.
To keep it running like new, schedule a tune-up. Rather than waiting for the extreme weather seasons of summer and winter, have a technician look at your system during the fall or spring. By scheduling during these times, you avoid a last-minute rush.
You can solve many problems before they become a headache if you follow this HVAC maintenance checklist.
Signs You Need an HVAC Tune-Up
If you can’t remember the last time your heating and cooling systems had a tune-up, just use your senses to judge the state of the system:
If your system’s filter is blocked or your ductwork is loose or damaged, air will flow less efficiently throughout your living space. You will likely notice certain rooms won’t heat up or cool down as well as they did in the past. Stick your hand in front of a vent. Is the air temperature appropriate? Is the flow too weak?
Just as unusual sounds can indicate your car needs a tune-up, the same can be true of your HVAC system. For example, rattling and clanking can indicate a loose part or foreign debris within the system. The noisemaker should be removed or tightened as soon as possible to avoid further damage. On the other hand, a screech is a warning sign of a damaged or aging motor belt.
The faint smell of burning dust when your furnace kicks on is an obvious sign that your system has accumulated some dirt. This is a common scent when you turn your furnace on for the first time in the fall or winter. If mold has grown in the system, your vents will produce a musty smell. In either case, your HVAC system is circulating dirty air, which can lead to respiratory problems for anyone in the living space.
Strong burning smells, especially if accompanied by smoke, could indicate aged wire insulation or foreign debris in your system.
Increase in Bills
Even though the other signs are often more noticeable, you’ll likely see an increase in your monthly energy bill. A system in need of a tune-up has to work harder to meet your demands.
What to Expect
- Checking of thermostat and system controls
- Lubricating of movable parts
- Tightening of loose components
- Checking drains for moisture buildup and clogs
- Inspecting electrical connections
- Cleaning coils in AC
- Adding or reducing refrigerant in AC
- Inspecting and securing gas/oil connections for heating
- Cleaning burner and heat exchanger
- Ensuring the entire system cycles smoothly
While a contractor will take care of the bulk of the work, you can perform a few simple tasks yourself to keep the system in good condition. One of the most basic examples is checking the air filter and then cleaning or replacing it if necessary. Consult your system’s manual or a technician for additional do-it-yourself maintenance.