Cleaning the oven or changing your water filter are, generally speaking, simple DIY home
maintenance tasks, but there are other important features of your home that require regular
attention in order to work properly and efficiently. Your HVAC system is one such feature,
perhaps the single most important component of your home. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to
keep your unit operating at peak efficiency, and you don’t even need a screwdriver, drill, or any
other items from your toolbox to make it happen.
It may not be compelling reading, but reading through online operation guides will familiarize
you with how your HVAC system works and show how a diligent approach to preventive
maintenance will keep it running efficiently. And get familiar with your air conditioning or home
warranty agreement so you’ll know what’s covered if your unit suddenly breaks down.
Change the Filters
One of the most important steps you can take to safeguard an HVAC unit is also one of the
easiest. A dirty, clogged air filter causes your HVAC to work too hard, which places a strain on
its component parts and leads to higher energy bills. Set an automatic reminder on your
smartphone to remind you when it’s time to change that filter each month (some units have
permanent filters that require periodic cleaning). Be aware that your filter may need to be
changed more often if there’s a pet in the house or if someone in the family suffers from asthma.
Clear Out the Ducts and Registers
You’ve probably noticed that your heat registers and air ducts tend to accumulate hair, dust, and
other debris that can impede the flow of air. So, use a sponge or wet rag to keep your registers
wiped down as often as possible, though pet hair will probably require you to clean them more
often. It’ll also help you maintain healthy indoor air flow.
If your system has an outdoor compressor unit, keep it free of lawn debris such as leaves, sticks,
dirt, and other items that could inhibit effective operation. Every week or two, take a look around
the unit. Grab a rake, broom, or a pair of gloves and clear out a space about two feet wide all the
way around, making sure no debris is covering the surface or has gotten into the fan component.
Switch It Off Now and Then
People who live in warmer climates may go for days at a time running their air conditioning
without a thought for the wear and tear this puts on the system. When the thermostat dips down
into a more acceptable range, consider switching off the A/C for a day or so to relieve the
workload. Break out the floor fans and switch on your ceiling fans, which will keep the air
circulating and keep hot air up where it belongs — out of the way.
Creating good airflow with fans and lowering the temperature inside just a couple of degrees will
help keep your unit from working too hard, which can ultimately cause excessive wear and
possibly a mechanical breakdown of some kind. This is usually when the dollar figures can really
start adding up. So, pay attention to see if your unit starts to make a high-pitched screeching
sound. Sometimes components will give you a warning before they break.
It’s important to address anything that looks or sounds like it might be out of the norm. Schedule
a regular inspection, and always call a pro if you’re not experienced enough to troubleshoot on
your own. You could end up doing more harm than good.
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