How to Maintain Your HVAC System

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How to Maintain Your HVAC System and Save Yourself from Expensive Repairs

Having an HVAC system that functions properly is essential for a comfortable and safe living environment. Taking steps to maintain your HVAC not only helps make that happen, but it can also lower your utility costs and reduce the likelihood of having to replace equipment. Though there are times you will need professional inspections and maintenance done, there is a lot you can do yourself that will save you from having to frequently pay a pro to fix your HVAC.


Bring in a Pro

When your AC breaks down, particularly during the summer, it can quickly go from an uncomfortable situation to an emergency. Many times, the culprit is a dirty filter that leads to a frozen coil. However, if you replace the air filter and the air in your home still doesn’t feel quite right, you’re probably facing another issue. In that case, you’ll want to bring in an AC repair professional in your area to remedy the situation.


Replace the Air Filter

One of the simplest ways to perform routine maintenance on your HVAC system is to change out the air filters. A filter will keep the system clean and trap harmful particles (e.g., dust, pet dander, pollen, mold, etc.) so that they don’t circulate throughout your home. Plan to replace your air filters every 90 days during the colder months and every 30 days during the hotter months. When you look for a replacement filter, take a moment to consider the MERV rating, which will determine the percentage of pollutants it blocks.


Wash the Fins

Your HVAC system probably has an outdoor unit. These units have fans that disperse heat during the hot months, and the fins can easily become dirty and bent. Each season, clean the dirt and grime from the fins using a water hose. Check out this article from SFGate for instructions on how to safely fix bent fins in an AC unit.


Clean the Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils can be found in your indoor HVAC unit, and they are essential to the function of the whole system. Basically, evaporator coils capture the hot air from inside your home, and condenser coils (found in your outdoor unit) release that hot air outside. This process is what allows cool air to circulate through your home. Using a brush to remove dirt and grime is one of the easiest and most effective methods of cleaning evaporator coils, but you can also use compressed air, water and a mild detergent, or cleaning chemicals.


Clear Out the Drain Line

It’s also important to regularly check your HVAC system’s drain line, which is prone to the buildup of substances like mold and algae. If left unaddressed, clogs can lead to damaging leaks in your home. To clear out any blockages, start with a wet-dry vacuum. If the drain line is still plugged after that, use bleach to clean it out.


Ensure There Is Clearance

Finally, it’s important to ensure your outdoor and indoor units have space around them so that they can work properly. One foot of clearance around each side is usually sufficient. For your outdoor unit, you may need to trim grass, bushes, or trees to ensure clearance. For your indoor unit, be sure there is no furniture or other items blocking the air flow; this also applies to vents.

Basic maintenance can save you from having to call the professionals for expensive HVAC repairs. Remember to regularly change your air filters, make sure the fins inside your outdoor unit are clean and straight, and remove any dirt and grime from the evaporator coils in your indoor unit. Regularly inspect your system’s drain line for clogs, and clean them as needed. Lastly, make sure there is at least a foot of clearance around your indoor and outdoor units so that your system can work efficiently.

Post courtesy of Ray Flynn