What Is HVAC Maintenance And Why Is It Important?
Proper HVAC maintenance can mean the difference between a long and efficient life and a random and costly catastrophic system failure. It could mean the difference between a comfortable living environment and a constant string of costly repairs and replacements. The phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more accurate here than anywhere else.
You buy insurance on your car, your home, and yourself. Regular check ups and standard maintenance is your insurance on your HVAC system. Regularly scheduled preventative care keeps you from paying for reactive care, which can be incredibly inefficient. Image that regular HVAC maintenance is similar to getting your teeth inspected and cleaned to ensure their long-term viability without the need for expensive implants and root canals.
What Are The Benefits Of HVAC Maintenance?
The majority of the benefits of proper and regular HVAC maintenance surround efficiency and costs. However, there are some distinctions that are important to point out.
Quick and preemptive diagnosis of mechanical issues is key to keeping all of the parts of the motor running smoothly. Moving parts can be continually greased. Cracks can be identified early and patched quickly. Lines can cleared of partial or full blockages. It is easy to imagine that constant slight corrections and alterations can keep replacements costs down.
Longer Life On Equipment
Everyone wants their equipment to last forever. However, that just isn’t realistic. The goal is to get as much efficient life out of every part of the unit as possible. Would you rather pay $10K for a new unit every 10 years or every 20? Preventative maintenance will save you money by extending the life of your HVAC unit.
Less Chance Of Catastrophic Failure
When problems, regardless of the size, are ignored or never observed there is a significantly higher risk that those small issues could lead to a very large issue. Think motor burning out or carbon monoxide leak. Put in another way, if you can preemptively catch problems and issues you will drastically decrease your chances of a catastrophic failure in your unit. What does catastrophic mean? It means you have to buy a new HVAC unit.
Safer Equipment Operation
This may not seem as obvious but there is currency in making sure your system is operating safely. This is specifically important at the possible contamination of your air by carbon monoxide. Regular maintenance can help ensure that your system isn’t actually damaging your health.
Lower Utility Bills
Well-maintained systems run efficiently. Poorly maintained systems do not run efficiently. If a unit is inefficient that means it will have to run longer to either heat up or cool down your home and keep it at that temperature. Longer run times means more wear on your unit and higher gas or electric bills. Well-maintained units are efficient and lead to cost savings.
Avoided Maintenance Charges
One of the biggest and most important benefits discussed above is the cost savings associated with avoided replacement costs. In other words, a lack of regular maintenance could lead to increased costs due to a higher risk to equipment failure and running issues. For reference here is a list of the most common replacement charges. The price is the average price across the US and may not represent your exact price. (Reference LINK)
- Repair blower motor: $150
- Replacement blower motor: $450
- Thermostat replacement: $50 to $200+
- Replacement igniter: $300 to $400
- Repair flame sensor: $80
- Replacement flame sensor: $250
- Repair heat exchanger: $100
- Replacement heat exchanger: $500 to $1,200
- Repair pressure sensor/circuit board: $50
- Replacement pressure sensor/circuit board: $350
- Replace gas valve: $150
- Replacement smart valve: $750
- Replacement draft inducer: $150 to $450
- Replace condensate drain tube – $20
- Replace condensate drain pump – $240 to $450
- Replace drain pans – $250 to $575
- Flush drain line – $75 to $250
- Recharge refrigerant – $250 to $750
- Repair refrigerant leak – $200 to $1,500
- Replace compressor – $1,900
- Repair outdoor fan motor – $200 to $650
- Replace breakers, relays, or fuses – $75 to $290
- Replace condenser coil – $1,900 to $2,900
However, this only covers the equipment costs. There is always labor included for the installation and testing of the unit after the repairs are done. Further, if there is a catastrophic failure or enough damage done that a new unit is required you are looking at a bill that could be anywhere between $6,000 and $18,000 depending on the cost of your replacement unit and the installation costs. It is important to take these costs into consideration when you are looking to have regular HVAC professional maintenance done.
What HVAC Maintenance Can You Do Yourself?
Change The HVAC Air Filter
There are lots of recommendations on timing of the changing of an air filter. Generally, it is important to change your air filter whenever the efficiency of the filter starts to affect the performance of your HVAC unit. It is hard to tell when to do this. Some units have an indicator light. However, many do not, and a good rule of thumb is to replace your air filter ever 30-90 days.
Landscaping Around The Unit
Any intrusion into the physical unit will affect how the unit operates. So, if there are tree limbs, plants, bushes, or loose soil, you need to trim, cut, and manage anything that could impact the performance of your unit. This includes checking the ground to make sure that the ground around the unit hasn’t sunk or otherwise shifted.
Hose Down Or Scrape Clean The Unit
Not only can branches get in the way of a unit operating at peak performance but mud, dirt, grime, and debris stuck to the unit will cause extra wear during operation. More wear means a shorter life on the internal equipment, which leads you back into the vicious costly replacement cycle.
Listen To The Unit
This may seem odd, but a well maintained and properly operating system will quietly hum while it is on. After a while of HVAC ownership you should become accustomed to how the unit operates. This includes how it sounds. If the sound of the operating system is different at all it could be a sign that the unit is running incorrectly and due for a professional check-up.
Check The Registers And The Return
Inside of your home you can help the system operate well by clearing always rugs, curtains, blankets, or any other obtrusion that is causing issues with airflow. Issues with airflow can cause your system to work harder than it needs to for proper circulation.
Check The Thermostat
The system only needs to run when you or your family is present and when the actual temperature of the air makes it uncomfortable to live and work in the space. This means that you should always re-evaluate the settings on your thermostat at the changing of the seasons so that you don’t run your unit more than necessary.
What HVAC Maintenance Requires A Professional?
You, the homeowner, shouldn’t do everything on the maintenance checklist. You may want to, but a trained professional can accurate diagnose problems and issues that the DIY professional can’t. Here are a few items that a trained HVAC professional will check each time.
Tighten The Electrical Connections
Loose connections can lead to improper functioning and electrical shorts and breakdowns.
Lubricate All Moving Parts
Just like your car the gears and moving parts need proper lubrication so friction doesn’t degrade the mechanics.
Check The System Controls
The unit itself will have internal controls that aren’t generally accessibly via your thermostat. These are factory and home specific settings that are known to your HVAC professional.
Clean And Adjust The Blower
For proper airflow from the unit the fans needs to be maintained for efficient circulation. Your technician will be knowledgeable on the needs of your specific unit.
Clean The Evaporator And Condenser Coils
The air conditioning portion of your HVAC will need specific care and consideration. These parts need special care to stay running and keeping your home cool.
Check Refrigerant Charge
If you don’t have refrigerant all you will get out of the vents is warm air. Keeping this in line is vital to having a comfortable space.
Signs You Need A New System
While you are living in your home or performing your own maintenance on your unit you should be aware of any sign that your system is in need of a repair, overhaul, or complete replacement. Here are a few key points:
- Be aware of any odd or off noises
- Be aware of any odd or off smells
- Notice if the airflow is constantly weak
- Notice if the temperature never reaches its target
- Physically inspect the unit while it is off and on to watch for anything odd
- This includes violent shaking, wobbling, or exposed cracks or broken parts
- Inspect for any leaking fluids or gases or overheating
Bottom Line On HVAC Maintenance
An HVAC system can make a house a home. It can create a sense of comfort and safety. On overly hot days and wickedly cold nights it can create a safe haven from the elements. Consistently maintaining your HVAC unit is a priority and necessity for efficient and effective operation.
Contact us today at AirLux Heating and Cooling for a free quote! (269-684-5196)