When it comes to keeping a home cool in the summer months and keeping it warm during the winter, there's no more important unit than the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. But like every major home system, HVAC units have a shelf life, and this is usually in the neighborhood of 15-20 years before replacement is necessary. In fact, air conditioning units normally last anywhere from 10-15 years, while furnaces can last up to 20 years. It goes without saying, however, that proper maintenance can help extend the life and effectiveness of these components. Here's a look at how to care for your HVAC system:
Replace The Filter
This is the easiest and most affordable thing you can do to keep the HVAC system running well. While you should check the manufacturer recommendations, it's suggested to replace this every month during the summer and about every month and a half during the winter. Doing so not only helps enhance the indoor air quality in your home, but it can help the HVAC system run smoothly as well. A dirty filter isn't just going to lead to dirtier air circulating throughout your home, but it will also put more strain on the HVAC system.
Inspect Your AC Unit
Your air conditioning unit is likely located outside. Take the time to inspect it regularly, especially in the nicer weather, to ensure that vegetation is not growing too close to it. Also make sure to clean it and remove any yard debris that has fallen in it or around it so that airflow is not obstructed. Generally, you should aim to create about a 2-foot clearance on all sides of the AC unit.
Check The Drain Pan
One of the most common issues with AC units is a clogged drain line, as it can become clogged with algae or mold and inhibit proper flow. Check this at least once a year to make sure there are no blockages. Simply vacuuming it out with a wet/dry shop vac can normally resolve any issues.
Have It Professionally Maintained
While there are a number of things you can do yourself to ensure the HVAC system is working well, there's also a lot of value in investing in professional preventative maintenance. Having a licensed professional come to your home to inspect and tune up the HVAC system can help resolve any minor issues before they become big, expensive ones, and help your system run better for longer. Ideally, this is performed twice a year, with the AC unit getting checked in the spring and the furnace in the fall. Spending the money to prevent issues can end up saving a lot of money in breakdowns and emergency repair or even replacement costs in the long run.