When treated properly, the machinery that makes our lives easier can continue to provide us with the conveniences we crave for years. Consider that you take your car in for service every 3 months or 3,000 miles. And the average person is only driving a couple of hours a day, often including a commute. Now think about how much you use your HVAC throughout the year. During the winter and summer months, you probably have it turned on day and night, although it may only actually be running for a few minutes out of every hour, depending on how airtight and insulated your home is, as well as how extreme the temperatures in your region are. Even so, it can generally go a whole year without maintenance, especially if you keep an eye on it in between service calls. However, there are steps you can take to keep your HVAC system in ship shape and running efficiently for the foreseeable future. Here are some maintenance tips that could help you to avoid costly repairs down the line.
- Maintain clearance. This is important for both your furnace and your AC unit since both rely on air intake to function properly. And of course, you don’t want to create a fire hazard by stacking potentially flammable items too close to running machinery. Unfortunately, you may use your basement or attic space for storage, and as the pile of stuff continues to grow it could inch closer and closer to your furnace. Although rules for clearance vary by state, and in truth, they may vary by the side of the unit (generally you are required to have more clearance in front than on the sides, for example), you might just want to play it safe and maintain a minimum of two feet of clearance on all sides. As for the AC unit, which is often located outdoors, you’ll want to maintain brush clearance and you might consider adding some sort of cover or screen to keep dust and debris from building up.
- Schedule regular inspections. This is probably the most important part of maintaining your HVAC system and avoiding potentially costly repairs or even early replacement. While you can clean, inspect, and maintain your own system, it’s not a bad idea to shell out a couple hundred buck per year to hire a professional technician if you can afford it. You’ll not only get your unit cleaned, filters replaced, coolant levels checked, and so on, but your service may include minor repairs to ensure that your system is performing at optimum levels. And you’ll be informed of more serious issues so that you can address them as needed.
- Don’t let problems go. You may already take part in maintenance between inspections, including changing filters as needed and attending to tasks like cleaning and minor repairs. But over time your equipment can become run down and that’s when things will start to go wrong. When it comes to maintenance, the longer you allow a problem to fester, the worse it’s going to get, and the more it’s bound to cost you in the long run.
- Get the right equipment for your home. If you’re going to use a standard furnace and AC unit in your home, you need to make sure they are the right size to support your square footage, and this mean neither too large nor too small. However, you might purchase a home that doesn’t feature central air, in which case a product like ductless mini splits might be more your speed. It all depends on your home, the climate, and of course, your preferences. But finding the right units for your home will not only help to reduce maintenance, but also costly repairs.