While your first instinct when dealing with the maintenance of your home or building’s HVAC system may be to call in a professional, picking up the phone doesn’t always have to be the first step. In fact, there are several steps that you can and should take on your own on a regular recurring basis in order to properly maintain your HVAC system.
While there will inevitably still be situations that require the knowledge and skills of a trained technician, there are plenty of simple routine tasks you can do yourself to take care of your HVAC system, all of which can save you money over time by eliminating the need to hire a professional in some cases and preventing future problems altogether in others.
If you’re wondering what exactly you can do in this regard and how, look no further. We’ve put together a list of 5 DIY HVAC Maintenance Tips detailing some basic but essential measures that you can take to ensure your system in tip-top shape.
Check and Change Your Air Filters
It is crucial that you check to make sure your air filters on your HVAC units aren’t dirty or clogged, and to replace them with new filters if they are. Left unchanged, filters collect dust, dirt and debris that can impede your system’s functions and performance as buildup occurs. .
How exactly you change your filters will vary depending on the make and model of your equipment, the location/s of your filters and what size and type of filters you need. Before messing with anything, find out where your filters are, what kind they are and how to change them properly.
Most units have an air filter slot that allows you to easily extract your old filter and slide the new one in its place. However, the location and accessibility of the air filter slot will depend on the type of equipment you have.
There are two main types of air filters – pleated or non-pleated – to choose from depending on your needs and preferences. Non-pleated filters have less surface area and thus need replaced more often than pleated filters, but non-pleated filters can also result in slightly lower energy costs. If you’re not sure what type of filter is best for your system, you can always call your local specialist or give us a call at (215) 269-6590 to consult with one of our experts.
Once you’ve successfully replaced your air filter, be sure to check it on a regular basis at least once a month and change when needed.
Clean Your Vents and Ducts
Similar to your filters, vents and ducts are passageways prone to build up that can affect air flow and quality. It is important to clean in and around your vents and ducts on a regular basis to prevent this buildup from occurring.
A rag, duster and a vacuum cleaner should do the trick in this case, as you will want to be as thorough as possible. To do so, you should vacuum and dust in and around your ducts and vents, and then wipe off anything left behind by the duster and vacuum. You may have to remove the vent in order to get into the duct, so a screwdriver may be required as well.
In addition to cleaning them, make sure that the area around your vents is cleared of furniture and/or anything else that may be blocking their air flow. It is not at all uncommon for folks to unknowingly cover their vents with a couch or some other type of large furniture and come to wonder later why the air in that room doesn’t feel right.
Clear Unit of Debris and Other Impediments
This next step may require a little bit of gardening, but it is a huge factor in how well your HVAC system is able to function. As with your vents and ducts, you want to make sure the area around your HVAC units are clean and clear of debris.
This is especially crucial for outdoor units, as they are subject to the elements, surrounding nature (people tend to have their units in gardens situated among all varieties of shrubbery) and changing weather patterns. Depending on what climate region you live in and the amount of plant life in the immediate vicinity of your unit, debris buildup can happen fast and often, blocking air flow and making it harder for your unit to do its job.
In PA and most of the northeast US, keeping your unit clear is a year round job, as you have falling leaves to worry about in the fall, snow to worry about in the winter, and excelled growth of plant life and landscaping debris to worry about in the spring and summer.
If you have an indoor unit, which are more often than not located in the basement, you should make sure its surrounding area is clean and clear as well. In unfinished portions of homes higher levels of dust and debris build up are common, as is the accumulation of storage from homeowners who use these areas to house their old stuff.
Listen to Your System
This tip is part figurative and part literal. It is critical that you pay attention to the way your HVAC system is functioning to make sure that everything is working as it should be, and to become aware of when it isn’t and identify any irregularities as soon as they come up. The sooner you can identify any issues with your system, the sooner you can locate the source of the problem and the sooner you can get it fixed and back to normal.
There are a lot of obvious indicators that your HVAC system is having problems, like weak air flow, inability to produce desired temperatures, fans not working, total shutdown, etc. But these indicators are more noticeable because they are evidence of larger problems that have already occurred. However, there is a great way to detect irregularities in your system early on before they become big problems.
One of the best ways to monitor whether or not your HVAC system is functioning normally is to literally listen to it. All HVAC systems produce some form of noise. Your units, either hidden away or located outside of the house entirely, make the most noise, but the different functions of your system also produce regular noises within the home from the air flow and the steady hum of the various machinery.
These sounds tend to fade into the background and become white noise, so they are easy to ignore and forget about. However, you should be cognizant of these sounds so you’re able to notice if they ever change for no apparent reason. Funny as it sounds, hearing funny sounds from your equipment is one of the easiest ways to recognize that there may be something wrong with it.
If you do notice that your system is producing an irregular sound, try to locate the source of said sound. If you are able to locate the source, check for any obvious indicators of what may be causing it. If not, run through tips 1-3 to see if it helps. If the funny sounds persist once you’ve done all you can, it may be time to consult tip 5.
Know When to Call a Professional
Even though there is a lot you can do on your own to take care of your HVAC system, there are also plenty of issues that may arise that you shouldn’t and likely can’t deal with by yourself. For your own safety and that of your HVAC system, there are some jobs that are best left to professionals who are trained to do them.
If you’re ever unsure of what you’re doing when handling your equipment, stop and call an HVAC technician. In some instances, what you thought you were doing to help your system could end up hurting it.
Here at Robaire, our team of experts is happy to assist you with any and all of your HVAC needs. Give us a call at (215) 269-6590 to speak with a specialist or schedule an appointment online now! Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more great HVAC tips and helpful info.