When it comes to maintaining your HVAC system, it’s essential to strike the right balance between the stuff you do yourself and the stuff you rely on a licensed HVAC technician to handle. Certainly, HVAC maintenance DIY can be done and is a worthwhile pursuit if you want to save money and learn a bit more about your home’s heating and cooling system in the process. However, there are also some things you are just going to want a professional to handle. This blog post will break down what you can do on your own and what you should leave in the hands of an experienced technician.
HVAC Maintenance DIY: The Things You Can Do on Your Own
Let’s start with the DIY side of HVAC maintenance. These tasks are relatively simple and should be done with some regularity to keep your furnace, your air conditioning unit, and the rest of your HVAC system in good working order.
- Replace your furnace filter: A furnace filter exists to keep dust, hair, dirt, and other debris from making it past your return duct. Without a filter in place, all that debris would just be recirculated by your furnace’s blower fan. In other words, the furnace filter plays a vital role in preserving your home’s indoor air quality. Most HVAC experts recommend replacing your furnace filter every 90 days, but you might want to do it more often—especially if you have pets. The frequency of this maintenance task makes it an important thing to learn how to do yourself. You don’t want to be calling an HVAC technician out to your house four times a year. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to figure out what filter types your furnace needs and to order replacements online. From there, swapping out the old filter for the new one is the work of mere moments.
- Clean your house regularly: Believe it or not, cleaning your house every week or two counts as a type of HVAC maintenance. Dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping helps collect stray bits of dust and debris, keeping it out of your HVAC system. A clean house is the best defense against buildups of debris in your ducts and will help you wait longer between duct cleanings and other HVAC services. Cleaning your home will also preserve air quality and make your house a happier and healthier place to spend time. Pay particular attention to vents and heat registers, as buildups of dust or debris in these areas can indicate that the system needs more extensive cleaning.
- Checking the fins on your air conditioning unit: The outdoor part of your air conditioning system is called a condenser. The condenser oversees sucking air in, cooling it, and pumping it into the house. The outer layer of the condenser is made up of what are called fins. Over time, the fins of a condenser can become clogged with debris, from dust and pollen to grass clippings all the way to spiderwebs. Cleaning the fins of your condenser unit will help it perform more efficiently, and you can do it easily with your vacuum’s soft-bristle brush attachment. Be careful, though: fins are fragile and can easily be bent if you don’t clean them gently.
- Pay attention to what your HVAC system is telling you: The best thing you can do for your HVAC system is to heed the warnings it is giving you. An HVAC professional can’t help you if you don’t call for help, and you can’t call for help unless you know something is wrong. So, pay attention to the heat or air conditioning in your home. Do temperatures feel comfortable and consistent, or do they fluctuate depending on where you are in the house? Is your system making weird noises? Have you noticed an uptick in utility bills that might be associated with a drop in furnace or air conditioner efficiency? Tuning yourself to these warning signs can do as much to keep your system in good condition as any HVAC maintenance DIY project.
When to Leave HVAC Maintenance to the Professionals
As you can probably see, most of the DIY maintenance tasks listed above fall into the category of basic upkeep and system care. When it comes to more in-depth diagnostic, repair, or cleaning work, though, you are going to want to call an HVAC professional. A qualified technician has the knowledge and experience to identify the cause of the problem quickly and the equipment and know-how to fix it safely and effectively. Needless to say, it’s not a good idea to start taking apart your air conditioning unit if you know nothing about the design or structure of an air condition system. At best, you could void your warranty or cause more damage than you fix. At worst, you could endanger yourself and your family. Letting a skilled technician do the work will yield better results without hurting your unit or anyone in the vicinity. However, by knowing the basics of HVAC maintenance DIY, you will hopefully be able to extend the lifespan and quality performance of your system, avoid breakdowns, and extend waits between repair service calls.