When was the last time you scheduled HVAC system maintenance? They run day in and day out, often without us even noticing how hard they work to keep us comfortable.
For too many of us, it's not until things go terribly wrong that we realize we should have been paying them more attention.
With regular HVAC system maintenance, you may be able to avoid the headache of breakdowns altogether.
What Does HVAC Maintenance Do for You?
In Missouri, it's recommended to maintain your HVAC system twice a year. The winters in and around St. Louis can get frigid, and the summers are sweltering, so an inspection in the spring and fall will get your unit ready for long seasons of continued use.
Doing so will have several benefits for you and your family.
Raise Efficiency and Lower Utility Bills
There are many opportunities for an HVAC system to become more inefficient gradually. It relies on a collection of clean components to deliver heat and cooling without overexerting itself. Even changing your air filter every 30-90 days can be enough to start improving your system's efficiency.
The air filter isn't the only component that collects dirt and dust over time. There are two places the technician will clean to improve your system's cooling — the evaporator coils and the condenser coils.
The evaporator coils are located in the air handler, which you'll usually find in the basement or attic. As air coming in from the house passes over the evaporator coils, the refrigerant in the coils pulls heat away from the air and turns to vapor.
On the other end of the system is the condenser unit, the large metal box located outside the home. Condenser coils in the unit release heat into the outside air with the help of your exterior fan.
Since both the evaporator and condenser coils rely on a heat exchange process with the surrounding air, any built-up grime can stifle the process.
If dust or dirt accumulates on the evaporator coils, the refrigerant won't absorb as much heat from the air before it enters the blower. If the same happens to the condenser coils, they won't be able to release as much heat, and the refrigerant won't be cooled entirely before it reaches the evaporator.
In both cases, the air entering your home won't be as cool. Your system will have to run longer and more frequently to maintain the optimal temperature.
Lubricating and Adjusting Parts
Between the compressor motor, the air blower, and the condenser, there are plenty of fast-moving parts that keep the air cool and moving in your home. One of the most critical aspects of an HVAC inspection is the tune-up these parts receive.
Over time, parts can become loose, fall out of alignment, or lose lubrication. A tell-tale sign of a faulty A/C is an unusual noise like banging, scraping, whining, or squealing, which usually indicates a major repair is about to be needed.
You can avoid wear on your parts and the sounds and issues of it by having a technician assess the moving parts and make necessary adjustments. They'll tighten and lubricate fans, fix belts, adjust the blower, and make any other minor repairs to keep the system from failing.
Because there will be less resistance on your system components, your parts will not only last longer but also perform more efficiently, saving you money in the short and long term.
Better Air Quality
Your air conditioner may have more of an effect on your health than you realize. Managing your home's indoor air quality (IAQ) helps you avoid the immediate irritation and long-term health consequences of breathing in contaminants. One of the best steps you can take to influence the IAQ of your house is to have a professional inspect and clean your air ducts.
Air ducts should be cleaned once every 3-5 years unless you have unique issues with your home or acute sensitivity to dust and pathogens. Individuals with asthma, allergies and respiratory problems will likely need more frequent visits or extra air filtration.
With air duct cleaning, you reduce the amount of dust and debris circulating in your house, helping you minimize the amount of cleaning you'll need to do. More importantly, you can avoid a host of negative health effects associated with poor air quality, such as:
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Sore throat
- Eye and nose irritation
If you have prolonged exposure to fumes, smoke, mold, or hazardous materials, you may develop more long-term heart or lung illnesses.
When you need HVAC system maintenance, look for technicians with IAQ certification. Professionals with this training can accurately measure and improve air quality in your home, performing the appropriate cleaning and maintenance tasks to meet your family's needs. They can also recommend better practices, like choosing the right air filters and investing in air purifiers.
Keep a Safer Home
Without heating system maintenance, the Missouri winter might take a toll on your plumbing. A frozen or burst pipe is a massive safety issue and an incredible expense, one that can be avoided by making sure your HVAC is in tip-top condition.
A burst pipe is inconvenient, but there are more safety issues associated with your HVAC that need consideration. Your furnace and A/C rely on potentially dangerous features to heat and cool your home. You can address several safety concerns by having an HVAC technician perform regular inspections.
Carbon monoxide is a normal product from a furnace generating heat, but in a properly sealed system, these gases are stored and released without entering the home. A crack in a heat exchanger, no matter how small, can cause fumes to invade living spaces while also creating a potential fire hazard.
During an HVAC tune-up, your technician will adjust the gas pressure, clean the burner, and inspect for issues in the lines and heat exchanger. Your heater will burn smoother and cleaner, lowering the possibility of failure and your heating bills.
Protect the Environment
Along with carbon monoxide, refrigerant is an extremely toxic aspect of a heating and cooling system. Refrigerant is stored in the pipes and coils that cool your home's air.
In older systems, R22 is used, a toxic chemical that damages the ozone layer and can cause severe health issues if inhaled. R22 is being phased out for the newer R410a, safer but still hazardous to humans, animals, and the environment.
No matter which system you have, leaks are both dangerous and hard to detect. You may go a long time with a refrigerant problem without realizing that your system takes longer to cool.
By having an inspection, you'll catch problems early, keeping you from overworking your system and creating a health risk. If they find an issue, your tech will fix and recharge your A/C, protecting your home and the environment.
Extend Your System's Life
An HVAC is one of the most expensive investments in your home, and you can do a lot to protect it by having inspections. On average, your system should last 12-15 years, but you can expect to replace it sooner if you don't take care of the hardworking components.
A new system costs a few thousand dollars at least. You can put off that massive expense by 3-5 years with frequent tune-ups that take the pressure off of your system. At the same time, you avoid the major repair bills that pop up now and then.
Avoid Repair Pains
This is the most obvious benefit of HVAC system maintenance — saving money by reducing repair bills. An inspection will help you make minor tweaks that could become massive failures if you let them sit. A $50-100 inspection can turn into a $500+ repair if you miss a tune-up.
You may be thinking, "But wait, shouldn't my warranty cover any repairs for the first few years?"
You bet it might! The truth is that many brands' 5 to 10-year limited warranty will cover the compressor or just parts. You'll often have to pay out-of-pocket for the extra hours it takes to fix anything, which will usually be at least double the cost of an inspection.
All that assumes that your warranty will cover the cost of the parts. If you haven't been getting regular inspections, the manufacturer may void their warranty altogether.
With regular maintenance, you'll save hundreds of dollars in repair and replacement costs. As a bonus to many HVAC maintenance plans, you can also receive significant discounts on work when you need the occasional service call.
Schedule Your Next HVAC Inspection
It's easy to lose track of your HVAC system maintenance. There's a lot to take care of when owning a home, and some chores will understandably fall through the cracks.
Fortunately, it's never too late to start helping your system and yourself. Suppose you're getting your HVAC ready for the season. Learn more about the HVAC maintenance plans at Crystal Heating & Cooling and request an inspection and tune-up to start living more comfortably today.
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