While calling in a professional to take care of major HVAC repairs and new equipment installations is imperative for getting the job done right the first time, there are some other HVAC tasks that you can take care of yourself. While scheduling professional maintenance every spring and every fall is a wise investment, there are a few maintenance tasks that you can tackle on your own.
By spending a couple of hours cleaning and providing light maintenance to your HVAC equipment, you can ensure that you have a comfortable, healthy, and cozy home all year round. When it comes to your HVAC system, maintenance and prevention go a long way towards keeping your equipment efficient and reliable. Here are some simple DIY maintenance tasks that will help keep your furnace and air conditioner running throughout the year.
Before you get started with any kind of DIY maintenance for your HVAC system, it’s a good idea to turn power off to the furnace / air conditioner. This simply creates a safer environment to work in. If you have a gas-powered unit, turn off the power switch to your furnace and shut off the gas.
Changing Your Furnace Filter
It’s recommended that you check your furnace filter once every 30 days or so. Most filters are manufactured to last anywhere from 30 to 90 days. You should be inspecting your filter to see if it looks clogged with dust and other particulates. If so, it’s a good idea to replace it with something new even if the recommended time frame for replacement hasn’t arrived yet.
If you leave a dirty filter in your furnace, this can affect your home in a number of ways. For instance, particulates will accumulate inside your furnace on various wires and interior components. This can force your furnace to work harder, placing additional strain on your system. This leads to more frequent repairs and can shorten the life of your unit.
A dirty filter can also negatively impact your indoor air quality. Breathing in dust, pet dander, dirt, pollen, and mold spores can lead to an increase in allergies, asthma attacks, and other respiratory issues. If you have someone in your home who suffers from ongoing allergy symptoms or has a respiratory condition, consider upgrading your filter. Look for a filter that has a rating of 1500-2800 MPR. This will trap an adequate number of particulates before they can enter your indoor air. Make sure that you choose a filter that doesn’t overly restrict your system, as this will force your furnace to work too hard to push air through the filter, increasing the likelihood of repairs or damage to your HVAC system.
Cleaning Out the Blower Cavity
The interior of your blower cavity can get dusty and dirty because of all the air that passes through it. Use a vacuum to clean out the empty spaces in your unit. Clean off the burners and the base. You may need to use a vacuum attachment to get into some of the back corners of your blower cavity.
While you’re cleaning your blower cavity, look for signs of black powder. This is different from normal dust accumulation. It can indicate that there is a problem with the combustion process that occurs when your furnace runs. An HVAC specialist can help diagnose and repair that problem.
Keep Vents and Registers Clean
You can make a big difference in the overall efficiency and condition of your HVAC system by maintaining your vents and registers. These areas can also become covered in dust and debris, which will then either blow into your home or make its way into your HVAC equipment. This can lead to an increase in energy costs and reduce the life span of your equipment.
Take a look around your home to find out where dust is accumulating. This might be on the surface of your registers or underneath the vent covers. It’s pretty easy to perform a cleaning. Avoid removing the covers and getting them wet. This can cause them to rust, and water can get into your ductwork and rust those spaces as well. Use a handheld duster to perform surface cleaning. You can also use a vacuum to clean all the different cracks and crevices that exist. If your ductwork needs a more thorough cleaning where you can’t reach it, a professional can perform this maintenance for you.
Don’t Forget Your Outdoor Equipment
Depending on what kind of HVAC setup you have, you may have an outdoor air conditioning unit or heat pump installed. This equipment should receive periodic DIY maintenance as well. Make sure there isn’t any debris around your units. This includes things like sticks, branches, garbage, outdoor toys, and more. The goal is to promote proper air flow around your equipment. You should also take a peek inside your unit to make sure there aren’t any leaves or debris in there. A small mess could result in a catastrophic failure.
Some air conditioning units can be covered with insulation in order to keep the air inside cooler. You may want to consult with a professional before using an insulation cover. Some units can actually become less efficient with the use of a cover or insulation. If you do use this method to increase efficiency, make sure you periodically remove the cover to check for damage or debris.
Cleaning Your Air Conditioner Evaporator Coil and Drain
To promote proper cooling in the summer months, you’ll want to clean your air conditioner’s evaporator coil and drain periodically. It’s common for the drain to become clogged or the coil to become inefficient, especially if you live in an area where mineral deposits or hard water are a concern. This process only takes a few minutes, but it makes a big difference in lowering your energy bills. It can also prevent the need for repairs.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool to get into the nooks and crannies of your evaporator coil. A narrow attachment will allow you to get deep into the drain area. There are some stronger chemicals and equipment that can be used for very dirty evaporator coils and heavily clogged drains, but you’ll want to call in a professional for that process. Someone with experience can make sure the job is done correctly without causing damage.
The team at True Climate Heat + Air has been keeping homeowners in and around the Oklahoma City metro area comfortable in their homes for years. If your DIY maintenance reveals any significant issues with your system, don’t hesitate to call us. Additionally, if you don’t feel like you can tackle any of the tasks that we’ve talked about safely, call us, and let us handle it for you. In addition to routine maintenance and repairs, you can also take advantage of services such as an indoor air quality assessment or the installation of brand-new equipment in a new residential construction setting. You can reach out to True Climate Heat + Air any time of day or night thanks to its 24-hour emergency service.