We all like to feel healthy. Whether it’s a visit to the chiropractor or check-up at the doctor, routine care is an essential part of life. Well, your heating and cooling system needs regular TLC, too. From a full inspection by an HVAC services professional to more frequent at-home checkups, there are several steps you can take to show your air conditioner and furnace some love and help keep it running happily all year long.
When to have a HVAC services technician look under the hood
EnergyStar.gov recommends having a professional inspect your heating and cooling system at least twice a year before the high-use months. Having an inspection before the hot months of Summer get underway and again before the freeze of Winter sets in can save you the cost and hassle of emergency cooling or furnace repairs – - not to mention a few toes from frostbite. If you’re running a heating only system, then you’re clearly exempt from the pre-Summer inspection. Likewise for air conditioning only homes before Winter.
What to expect from a professional inspection
An HVAC services technician will examine your unit for any signs of wear or damage. He’ll also check for leaks or odors and listen for abnormal sounds while the unit is running. He’ll take measurements of the refrigerant levels and system pressures. A professional can ensure your unit is properly installed. An improperly installed unit can cut efficiency by as much as 30% and shorten your system’s life.
What you should do between professional HVAC services inspections
Don’t forget about your home HVAC system between your bi-annual professional inspections. To keep it in optimum condition, you should expect to pay it a visit at least every three months. Depending on the type of unit you’re using, your filters will most likely need to be changed on a monthly or quarterly basis. Your central air conditioning unit plays a key role in the air quality of your home by filtering out dust and allergens. If your air filter is no longer the color it went in as, it’s time to replace it.
Other ways to keep your heating and cooling system running smoothly
Besides bi-annual professional inspections and monthly or quarterly check-ups, another way to keep your system a peak-performer is by giving it a head start from the gates. Using a high-efficiency system will not only help your unit run smoothly longer, but also save you money and help keep the environment healthy.
By law, new gas furnaces must be rated at 78% efficiency or better. Some new models have achieved levels of 97% efficiency. Making the switch from a lower-efficiency unit to a high-efficiency one can help reduce your energy use by 20 to 50%. Similarly, in an average cold-climate home, an upgrade to a 90% efficiency gas furnace will save 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. If you run on oil and make the same upgrade to a 90% efficiency furnace, you’ve just prevented 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere each year
When it’s best to just scrap it and buy a replacement
Most furnaces will last around 15 years. After they reach this milestone, any necessary furnace repairs that crop up may mean it’s simply time to replace the unit. A professional services inspection can help you determine if this is the case for your unit. Often times, if your unit is 15 years old or older and a key part such as the control module or heat exchanger breaks, it’s best to just replace the unit. The upside to this, is that if your unit is over 15 years old, chances are there’s a far more efficient model available.
Whether you live in the heart of the Arizona desert or the coast of Maine, chances are you value your heating and cooling system. There’s nothing worse than experiencing a break-down when you need your system the most. To help keep your HVAC unit running smoothly for all of its valued life, show it some TLC with regular check-ups. If the time comes for a complete overhaul, don’t shy away from the more efficient new models available. You’ll thank yourself for the upgrade later.