A long time ago, we all just had to live with whatever the weather decided to do. When it was hot, we all got sweaty, and when it was cold, we all shivered. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then, and with modern HVAC systems, we never have to be uncomfortably hot or cold in our homes. Like most high-tech modern equipment, your HVAC system will need repairs and maintenance to stay in perfect working order. As we head towards summer, here’s an HVAC preventative maintenance checklist to ensure your air conditioner is ready for the season.
Why You Need a Seasonal HVAC Preventative Maintenance Checklist
You might be wondering why you need different HVAC preventative maintenance checklists for different seasons. After all, it’s all the same system, right?
Actually, that’s not entirely true.
While your HVAC system is all interconnected, it’s actually made up of different equipment that does different things. In fact, the name itself stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. So, while your equipment certainly shares some components, they do very different things in different seasons.
Two Checks Per Year
Before we get into the specifics of our HVAC preventative maintenance checklist, you should know that you really need to do two system checks every year.
One is done in the Fall to ensure that your heating system is ready to keep you warm in the winter. The other should be done in the Spring to make sure that your air conditioner is ready to kick in when you need it.
Doing these two checks will also ensure that shared equipment like thermostats, ducting and vents are in good condition at all times.
Why Do the Inspection In Spring?
You might be wondering why we recommend that you do your air conditioner checks in the springtime if you’re only going to need it in the summer.
The fact is, many homeowners do wait until summer, which means that when you call for a routine checkup of your system, you’ll be lucky to get onto the waitlist and might not be able to find anyone to do it at all.
If you do need any replacement parts or supplies for your HVAC system, you might also struggle to find them if you wait until summer, when everyone will be looking for the same things. It’s best to get an early start–so think Spring and get to inspect.
The HVAC Preventative Maintenance Checklist
Now that you know why you should perform an HVAC inspection before the summer heat hits and when you should do it, it’s time to get into what you need to check. The following items should all be inspected and repaired or replaced if there is a problem:
· Check the filters, and clean or replace them. Dirty filters mean dirty air, and that’s not healthy.
· Check and clean the condenser as well as the evaporator coils. These are the parts of your air conditioner that help to absorb and dissipate heat, so they’re essential to the operation of the unit.
· Check the drain lines for any clogs, and make sure that they are free-flowing. If you do find any clogs, clean the lines.
· Check the drain pans and dispose of any water you find there. This won’t affect the operation of the unit, but it can overflow and cause damage, and it’s never good to have standing water in your home.
· Check all the pulleys and belts and replace any that are stretched, worn, or showing signs of failing.
· Inspect all your ducts for dust, mold, and other pollutants. You won’t want to be blowing those things into your home, particularly if you have anyone with allergies in the family.
· Check that there is enough refrigerant in the unit and that there are no visible or obvious leaks.
· Check the humidity levels in your home. It should not be too humid or too dry, although air-conditioned air tends to be a little drier.
· Check the thermostat and make sure all the controls are working.
· Check the thermostat timer so you can set your air conditioner to start and stop as needed.
· Check the batteries in the thermostat if necessary.
· Check all the wiring and electrical connections. Wires should not have any signs of damage, and all connections should be secure and free from corrosion.
· Check the fan motor. This will push the cool air into your home, so it should be working correctly. Take note of any strange sounds coming from the fan, as these can be a sign of a problem.
· Lubricate all the moving parts of the motor and any bearings. This will help to ensure that the unit can operate with minimal friction, which will improve performance and reduce energy consumption.
· Check the cabinet or enclosure around the unit. It should fit securely and not have any signs of wear or damage that might allow leaks.
· Clear away any debris around the air conditioner unit.
Of course, if you do notice any problems while you’re doing all of these inspections, your routine preventative maintenance may become a repair or even a replacement of parts or the whole unit.
Related: A Guide to HVAC Maintenance Service
How Long Do Air Conditioners Last?
A good quality modern air conditioner unit will last between 15 and 20 years. Usually, the units that last longer are the ones that are properly maintained and kept clean and in good working order.
If your air conditioner no longer starts up, makes strange noises, does not produce cool air, or creates foul smells, it may be a sign that you need to repair or replace the unit. Likewise, if you are spending a lot more on energy bills than you used to, it might be because your air conditioner just isn’t up to the job anymore.
A thorough inspection by an HVAC professional will tell you if the problem is one that can be fixed or if you need to invest in a new air conditioning unit.
What Affects the Lifespan of an Air Conditioner?
Aside from routine maintenance, which is one of the best things you can do to extend the life of your air conditioner, there are several things that might affect your air conditioner’s lifespan.
The brand and type of the unit are factors. Some brands are better known for building high-quality, durable air conditioners than others. So if you have a choice when you get your next air conditioner installed, do your research and choose the right one.
The amount of use your air conditioner gets is another factor. If it’s working hard day in and day out for months, it’s going to take a lot more wear and tear than if you only use it occasionally.
Who Should Do Your Preventative Maintenance Checks?
As you can see from the HVAC preventative maintenance checklist above, while there are some relatively easy visual checks that you can probably do yourself, there are also some that are best left to professionals who have a better understanding of HVAC systems.
While you might not intend to, if you try to do a full air conditioner inspection yourself and don’t know precisely what you are doing, you could inadvertently do some damage to the unit.
Regardless of what happens, if you do the wrong thing, you might be left with an air conditioner that suddenly doesn’t work at all. This is why it’s always best to call a professional to inspect your HVAC systems if you’re not 100% sure how to do it yourself.
Not only do they know what to check to give you the all-clear, but they also have access to parts, spares, and consumables that might be needed to get everything running at its peak. Since this system is one of your bigger home investments, you won’t want to miss anything.
How Disruptive Are HVAC Inspections and Maintenance?
The good news is that HVAC inspections and maintenance usually aren’t too disruptive unless there is a problem with your ductwork or vent system.
Most central air units are installed outside your home, so a lot of the inspections and work will be done there. Other parts of the system are usually located in your mechanical or furnace room, aside from the thermostat, which is usually located in a living room or similar space.
So, while your HVAC technician will need to be in your home for a short while, most of their work will take place outside, and you won’t need to change too much about your schedule to let them do their job.
What If You Need Parts?
If you discover during your HVAC inspection that you need parts for your air conditioner, always ask for genuine parts or manufacturer-recommended spares. Some parts should only be original, brand-name parts from the manufacturer, but others can be high-quality universal components.
A professional air conditioner technician will be able to tell you which ones you should use. In fact, many HVAC specialists carry commonly needed parts in their work vehicles, so you don’t have to wait for parts to get any minor repairs done.
Sometimes, a skilled HVAC technician can make a temporary repair that will keep the unit working until your new parts arrive. While you still need to get the repairs done, this can keep your house comfortable while you wait for that to happen.
What If You Need a New Air Conditioner?
Unfortunately, air conditioners do have a finite service lifespan, and eventually, yours will stop working and won’t be repairable. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to do your summer inspections in the springtime. That way, you have time to get quotes, order a new unit, and have it installed before the long, hot days of summer roll around.
In some cases, it may be possible to keep your air conditioner running for one more season while you plan your replacement. Please speak to the technician who does your system check and find out what they recommend for you.
A Note About Electrical and Plumbing
Often, HVAC specialists are also electricians or plumbers because those are skills that are often needed for this type of equipment. However, if you have only booked an inspection, the person who arrives to do your checkup might not be a licensed electrician or plumber.
If they discover that there are electrical faults or plumbing problems that they can’t solve, they might have to contact someone else to get the job done.
While this is frustrating, it’s always a good idea to have complex repairs like this done by people who have the right qualifications. After all, your home is your most significant investment, and you need to keep it safe!
Related: How To Create a Home Preventative Maintenance Schedule
Prefix Inc. Offers A to Z HVAC Services
As you can see from the checklist and notes here, ensuring that your HVAC system is ready for the summer is a little more complex than you might have thought. Even if you’re reasonably handy, this is very sophisticated equipment, and it’s easy to get things wrong.
While you could try to do some of this yourself or try to find a contractor who can perform this kind of service for you, both could be time-consuming. You might also have mixed results.
Prefix Inc. Preventative Maintenance Service can offer you exactly the right kind of skilled professionals you need when you need them. Our services are fast, comprehensive, and competitively priced, and we work on all major brands of air conditioners and HVAC systems.
When you need professional, knowledgeable HVAC inspections and services, you can find it all here. With our innovative and transparent subscription service, you never have to worry about where you will find the handyman and maintenance services you need or what kinds of costs are involved.
Contact our team to find out more about how Prefix Inc. works and how we can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, year after year.