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How do you maintain an HVAC system?

Jul 30, 2019

Two AC units outside of a D.C. region house with a CroppMetcalfe contractors tools and gloves resting next to the units.

Whether you’ve recently replaced your air conditioner or have had the same heating unit for the last decade, homeowners need to know how to take care of their HVAC systems. Preventative maintenance is the best way to keep your heating and cooling system running smoothly, reducing the need for expensive repairs over time.

Read more: Understand How Heating and Cooling Maintenance Works

If you’re wondering how to best tackle HVAC maintenance, start with these simple tasks:

HVAC Maintenance Tips

Change Air Filters

The filters on your HVAC unit are designed to keep dust, dirt and other allergens from contaminating the air in your home. Not only do clean air filters ensure you and your loved ones are comfortable in your home, but they also help your HVAC unit operate properly. When your filters become clogged, airflow is blocked, which can reduce the efficiency of your unit and lead to an increase in energy costs. Over time, neglecting your air filters can result in serious damage to your HVAC system.

Homeowners should replace air filters every one to three months depending on seasonality and whether or not pets live in the home. If you or a family member is prone to allergies or suffers from asthma, we recommend replacing old filters with HEPA filters, which are designed to trap allergens like dust, mold spores, pollen, pet dander and even bacteria.

Remove Debris Build-Up

In order for your HVAC system to operate effectively, there needs to be at least two feet of clearance around outdoor air conditioning units and heat pumps. If there are trees, plants or shrubs surrounding your outdoor HVAC unit, you’ll want to trim back and branches or leaves that can become obstructions — this will ensure that air can circulate through the equipment efficiently without interference.

Each season presents unique challenges, so homeowners should be on the lookout for these issues year-round:

As the temperature begins to drop in the fall, be sure to keep leaves from accumulating on top of the HVAC unit. You’ll also want to watch out for animal nests and remove any debris surrounding the unit. In the winter, cover the outdoor unit to prevent snow and ice from causing damage. During the spring, keep an eye on pollen build-up, which can clog filters and create blockages in the condensing unit.

Clean Evaporator and Condenser Coils

Did you know that a dirty condenser coil can increase energy consumption by up to 30 percent? Once or twice a year, it’s important to remove any residue that has built up on your evaporator and condenser coils to ensure your HVAC system runs efficiently, saving you money on utility bills in the long run. If you’re not sure how to do this yourself, don’t worry – it’s often included in annual HVAC maintenance checks.

Along with the coils, you’ll want to clean the condenser unit fan, which can get easily clogged with dirt and pollen over time. If you’re having trouble cleaning wither the coil or fan, the problem may require a professional. Do NOT power wash your HVAC unit — the high pressure can cause serious and permanent damage. It’s also important to check your unit’s drain pipe to make sure there are no blockages that can cause system breakdowns.

Read more: Should I Repair or Replace My Air Conditioner?

Increase Unit Efficiency

Aside from cleaning and hands-on maintenance, there are actions homeowners can take to help their HVAC units run smoothly. You’ll extend the life of your HVAC system and avoid expensive repairs by treating it with care.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Did you know that using a programmable thermostat can save you up to 10% on energy costs throughout the year? Not only can programmable thermostats save homeowners money, but they also prevent the HVAC system from cranking at full power for extended periods of time, which can diminish efficiency over time.

Clear Vents and Registers

In order to cool or heat your home adequately, your vents and registers need to be clean and free of obstructions. Oftentimes, homeowners will jack up the heat or blast the AC if they don’t feel the temperature adjusting properly, when the real issue isn’t related to the unit itself. This means your AC or furnace is working harder than it needs to, which wastes energy and can cause damage over time.

Make sure you clean your vents and registers every few months to allow air to circulate throughout your home properly.

Schedule an HVAC Inspection with CroppMetcalfe

At the change of each heating and cooling season, we recommend homeowners have semi-annual HVAC system maintenance performed. Maintenance checks ensure your HVAC unit is running as it should and allows a professional to assess and diagnose any potential issues that could lead to repairs later on.

CroppMetcalfe can help your HVAC system live a longer, healthier life. Our 5-Star Technicians provide preventative maintenance service that keeps your system running at peak performance. Call our HVAC experts at 703-698-8855 or schedule a service appointment online today.


What Our Customers Say...

"I've been a CroppMetcalfe customer for 9 years and you have always provided outstanding service. I just had my semi-annual maintenance done, and I wanted to thank George for the truly outstanding service, professionalism, and excellent advice. He is definitely one of the best 5-Star Technicians I've had! Thank you CroppMetcalfe!"

Bill H