Everybody loves having an air conditioner during long hot summers, and a working heater during cold winters. However, not everybody loves doing the work (or paying the money) to keep their heating and cooling infrastructure in proper condition over the course of its lifespan. Unfortunately, neglect almost always results in major system problems that end up costing even more to solve than the original problem would have. If you want to make sure your furnace or air conditioner will always be as cost-effective as possible, it pays to take care of your HVAC repairs sooner rather than later.
Below, we’ll go into detail about some of the most common HVAC repairs that owners ignore (often to their own detriment down the road). If you’ve been putting off any of the repairs on this list, make sure you call a professional to help you fix them before things get worse.
The Five Most Commonly Avoided HVAC Repairs
Here are the repairs most HVAC owners tend to avoid as though their lives depend on it (and while that certainly isn’t true, it is true that avoiding these repairs can put the well-being of your HVAC at considerable risk):
1) Filter changes. Okay, this one hardly even counts as a repair—it’s something that should be part of your regular DIY maintenance routine. However, you’d be shocked at how many HVAC owners don’t change their filters as often as they’re supposed to (once per month, in case you’re wondering). Furthermore, not changing the filters on your HVAC can have devastating consequences. Filters prevent unwanted materials from piling up in the ducts, where they can cause blockages that affect airflow throughout the system.
2) Air duct cleaning. Even if you’re changing your filters on a regular basis, it’s possible for material to build up in your ducts over long periods of time. That’s why it’s vital to have your ducts cleaned once or twice each year by a licensed pro. Duct cleaning removes build-ups that could eventually restrict your airflow, or even stop it completely. Restricted airflow makes your HVAC less energy efficient, while a blocked-up duct can prevent treated air from making it into the rooms of your building at all. When that happens, your thermostat often fails to register any change in temperature, and so it tells your system to work even harder—leading to the premature burnout of important components such as your compressor. Avoid all that trouble by simply taking care of the ducts in your home and calling for help if you have reason to believe they might be blocked.
3) Repairing loose mechanical parts. Several of the moving parts inside your HVAC can become loose over time, which might not sound like a big deal at first. However, it becomes a problem if any of them come loose completely and bump around inside the unit, where they can cause damage to other parts of the system. The blower motor is one of the most common parts to do this, so keep an ear out while you run your system and stop it immediately if you hear a clunking or banging noise. Only a trained professional should attempt to remove and reattach a motor that has come loose.
4) Electrical work. HVAC systems rely on electrical power for many of their key functions, so loose or damaged wiring can affect their performance. However, many homeowners do not consider loose wiring a repair priority until it stops their system from working completely. That’s a mistake since loose wiring can be a shock and fire hazard. If you want to keep your home safe, keep an eye out for inconsistent performance that could indicate a wiring problem, and have it fixed as soon as you notice it.
5) Total HVAC replacement (for old systems). Nothing lasts forever, and the same goes for your HVAC. Proper care and regular professional maintenance can allow an HVAC to last for more than a decade—perhaps even two—but eventually it will become more trouble than it’s worth. When an HVAC hits the 15-year mark, it normally starts to need service so often that an owner would do better to replace it entirely. Don’t fear the one-time cost of doing this, because what you save on repairs and utility bills will more than offset the replacement costs over the next few years.
Do not Avoid HVAC Repairs
If you’re one of those people who put off their HVAC repairs until the system breaks down completely, you’ve probably been spending a lot more than necessary. Remember: the costs of fixing a major breakdown every few years are generally much higher than the costs of having regular service and minor repairs once or twice each year. Use what you’ve learned in this guide to help you make more informed choices about your HVAC service in the future, and call a licensed technician if you have any questions.