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Is Routine Maintenance for your HVAC System really necessary?

Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system inefficiency and failure. To ensure efficient system operation, it’s important to perform routine maintenance.

Tune up your HVAC equipment. Proper maintenance by a qualified technician is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent future problems. Don’t wait till the last minute. Contractors get busy during summer and winter months, so it is best to check the cooling system in spring and the heating system in the fall.

Overall System Maintenance Checklist:

Your contractor should complete the following each spring and fall:

• Check thermostat settings to ensure the heating and cooling system turns on and off at the programmed temperatures. Change the batteries once a year. Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause your system to operate unsafely and reduce the life of major components.

• Lubricate moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors requiring more frequent repairs or replacements. and increase the amount of electricity you use.

• Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). If plugged, the drain can cause water damage in the house, affect indoor humidity levels, and breed bacteria and mold. If there is a safety cut-off switch in the drain pan, makes sure it works.

• Check system controls to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.

• Inspect, clean, or change the air filter in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this yourself.

• Clean indoor and outdoor coils before warm weather starts. A dirty coil reduces the system’s ability to cool your home and causes the system to run longer, increasing your energy costs and shortening the life of your equipment.

• Check your central air conditioners refrigerant charge in compliance with the manufactures specifications. Too much or too little refrigerant charge can damage the compressor, reducing the life of your equipment and increasing costs.

• Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow. Proper airflow over the indoor coil is necessary for efficient equipment operation.

• Inspect the flue piping for rusting and any disconnections or evidence of back drafting. Improper connections can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion, and heat exchanger. Improper burner operation can be caused by a dirty burner or a cracked heat exchanger-either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.

Additional System-Specific Maintenance Activities:

Use a Programmable Thermostat properly. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

Seal your Heating and Cooling Ducts:

Ducts are used to distribute conditioned air with forced-air heating and cooling systems. In typical houses, about 20 % of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is an inefficient HVAC system, high utility bills, and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set. Sealing the duct system can be difficult because ducts are often concealed in walls, ceilings, attics, and basements. But there are things that you can do to improve duct performance in your house.

Start by sealing leaks using mastic sealant or metal (foil) tape and insulating all the ducts that you can access such as those in the attic, crawlspace, basement, or garage. Never use “Duct Tape” as it is not long-lasting and will eventually peel off.

Also, make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.