Whether you are planning for a new HVAC installation or attempting to nurture an existing system through its latter years, HVAC maintenance plays a major role in achieving the best performance possible from your equipment. A high-tech system won’t provide premium results if it is ignored year after year because normal wear can reduce efficiency levels. Consider your automobile in comparison. Refusing to change the oil and air filters in your vehicle at regular intervals could lead to serious problems and a short lifespan for the vehicle. By investing meticulously in that oil and lube service, you can often expect to enjoy a longer life of service from your car with minimal repair issues. The same is true of your HVAC system, making regular preventive care a sensible investment.
The Effects of Normal HVAC System Use
There are several HVAC equipment components that can wear out with use. Moving parts, electric contacts, belts, lines, and motors each have their own issues as they age. Unfortunately, a worn part often fails during heavy use of an HVAC system, resulting in the need for an emergency repair. In addition to the risk of part failures, there is also the issue of reduced efficiency levels. Dirt can also be a primary cause of efficiency loss, affecting heat exchange in both heating and cooling systems. Because a layer of dirt creates a barrier for the heat exchange process, more energy is required to handle the heating and cooling activity needed to adjust your home’s temperature level. Dirt buildup is normal, potentially reducing a system’s efficiency by 5 percent or more each year.
What Is Preventive HVAC Maintenance?
HVAC maintenance is just as important for your home comfort equipment as a tune-up is for your car. During a maintenance visit, your technician inspects your equipment prior to the coming heating or cooling season to ensure that parts are intact and operating correctly. An HVAC tune-up includes the following checks and adjustments:
- Air filter – your filter will be inspected and changed as needed. A clean filter at the start of the heating or cooling season is important, and you should monitor to ensure prompt changes through the season. A dirty filter can prevent premium system performance, decreasing efficiency levels up to 15 percent.
- Moving parts – lubrication is important, especially for motors that could draw excessive electricity because of friction. Moving parts are checked for wear and lubricated or replaced as needed.
- Drainage systems – condensate drains can result in breeding biomaterials that affect the indoor air quality levels. Additionally, plugged drains can lead to water damage in the home. Your technician will inspect and clean as necessary.
- Electrical parts – proper connections are important for safe and efficient use of your system. These parts are tightened or replaced as needed.
- Thermostats and controls -proper operation hinges on effective communication between system controls and parts. Your technician will verify correct operation and cycling.
- Gas equipment – connections, combustion-related components, and venting equipment are inspected to ensure safe heating and healthy indoor air quality.
- Refrigerant lines – levels are checked, and leaks are identified and repaired as needed.
- Coils – inside and outside coils are cleaned to promote airflow and heat exchange.
- Ducts – airflow is tested to verify that the system is balanced and that air is being delivered appropriately. Leaks may be identified, in which case duct services may be recommended.
How HVAC Maintenance Helps
An HVAC service plan ensures that your seasonal maintenance is scheduled in a timely way so that your tune-up occurs before the system is needed for ongoing heating or cooling activity. This allows time for problems to be identified and mitigated before the system’s use is necessary. Preventive care can also extend the life of your system as you enjoy premium performance results.
Airflow issues can add dramatically to your heating and cooling costs. In addition to the potential 15-percent increase because of a dirty air filter, dirty coils can add up to 40 percent to the usage levels for operating your heat pump or air conditioner. Low refrigerant levels can add another 20 percent, while leaky ducts can also represent 20 percent or more of your operating costs. Regular preventive care can minimize these problems and make a huge difference in your utility bills.
Home Comfort Levels
An unmaintained system may fail to provide the indoor comfort levels you desire. If your system seems to operate endlessly without improving household comfort levels, HVAC maintenance may be an important step for achieving better conditions. The dirt that accumulates in your equipment can limit the ability of the system to meet your comfort needs. Inadequate refrigerant can also prevent your system from heating or cooling to your specifications. Leaky ductwork can contribute to hot or cold spots that continue to be a problem as well. Maintenance allows for appropriate solutions to be recommended as the underlying causes are pinpointed.
Indoor Air Quality
Dirt accumulation on your coils can result in mold and bacteria growing in your air handler. A maintenance visit allows this area to be cleaned. In some cases, supplemental IAQ solutions may be recommended for minimizing problems related to humidity or other pollutants. Duct condition can also contribute to contaminated air in your home, and your technician may identify leaks or other problems during a routine maintenance visit, allowing you to make decisions about repairs or duct cleaning to minimize related health issues.
One of the most serious HVAC-related safety issues can be that of carbon monoxide leaks. An annual heating tune-up is crucial for any household with a combustion system to ensure that there aren’t carbon monoxide problems. Additionally, an HVAC technician can evaluate the potential for backdrafting of such emissions via duct leaks. A technician can also inspect or install CO monitors as needed. Mechanical failures and positioning of combustible materials can pose a risk of fire in connection with central heating. Although these are not the most common causes of winter house fires, a tune-up can minimize risks as potential problems are identified.
Reduced Repair Needs
One of the simplest maintenance steps for your HVAC system is keeping your filter clean. An estimated 90 percent of heating calls are related to problems with clogged filters. It is estimated that an HVAC service plan can reduce the risk of system repair needs by up to 95 percent. While this won’t eliminate all possible issues, it can head off the majority of serious problems. Additionally, an HVAC service plan can provide emergency access to repair support during a heating or cooling emergency.
Planning for Future HVAC Installation
An additional benefit of selecting a preventive maintenance plan is preparing for future HVAC installation needs. A furnace can last between 15 and 20 years, while an air conditioner can provide approximately 14 to 15 years of service. Regular preventive care can maximize your system’s life, and a solid relationship with an HVAC contractor allows you to begin planning for a system replacement as you approach those upper limits of service life. Your contractor can help you to evaluate the efficiency levels and additional features available, providing insight about potential energy savings that may be achieved with an early HVAC installation.
Get Premium Performance with an HVAC Service Plan
Although a tune-up is typically scheduled prior to seasonal use of a major component of your HVAC system, it can be completed at your convenience if you have just learned of the importance of this regular service. Conditioned Air doesn’t charge premium prices for a system checkup, but the return on your investment in this service can be major. Our Conditioned Air Sugarland office is available to schedule your HVAC system tune-up or to explain more about our service plans at your convenience.