DIY Advice for HVAC Maintenance
By Ray Flynn (Courtesy of www.DiyGuys.net)
Did you know that you can DIY upkeep on your HVAC unit? If not, you should be aware that there are many things you can do to ensure that your system stays up and runs well throughout the year. While annual maintenance, refrigerant replacement, and installation are best left to a licensed technician, other things require little skill or mechanical knowledge. Keep reading for more information.
What it’s made of
Before you get started on your HVAC upkeep, you should be aware of the parts that make up your system. An HVAC unit is a dual-purpose system that keeps your home cool during part of the year and warm the rest. Its two main parts are the furnace and the condensing unit.
According to Air Experts, the furnace is the part of your system responsible for pushing air into and around your home. It is usually inside the basement, garage, or attic. Inside of the furnace is a heat exchanger. This is the component that heats up cool air in the winter. The condensing unit sits outside of the home. This contains refrigerant gases that cool air from the outside. Within each of the major parts of your HVAC system are many other moving parts.
It is important to note that only a licensed HVAC technician should open up your heating and air unit. They will also be the only ones licensed and certified to possess commercial refrigerant. If you suspect that your system is damaged or it has not been serviced within the last year, visit Improve.net to find a licensed company to handle this important task for you. If you’ve recently purchased your home, it’s a good idea to have the system checked out and serviced before moving in.
DIY preventative maintenance
Homeowner maintenance consists of changing the filters, cleaning the registers and returns, clearing debris from the external components of your system, and making sure that your home is properly sealed so your unit is not working overtime.
The simplest of these tasks is changing your air filter. To do this, look for the largest vent. This is often found in the hallway and may either be overhead or closer to the floor. There will be a small lever that will allow you to open the slotted cover and reveal the existing filter. Remove the filter by grasping it firmly on either side and pulling it straight out. Insert your new filter and secure the door shut. If the slots on the filter door cover are dusty, use your vacuum to clean it.
Another area that requires regular cleaning are the fins on the exterior portion of your system. Using a shop vacuum and a brush attachment, vacuum these off at the beginning of each season. Family Handyman cautions that the fins are vulnerable to damage, so be cautious as your vacuum makes contact. If you do inadvertently bend one, you can use a butter knife or special tool, which can be found at your local hardware store, to put them back into place.
Never perform any maintenance on your unit without first turning off the power. It’s not enough to turn the thermostat down; you will be much safer if you switch the power off directly from the breaker box or wall-mounted switch.
In addition to routine maintenance to your system, you can also improve its longevity by switching to a programmable thermostat. Further, sealing air leaks within the home and adding proper home insulation will reduce wear and tear on your unit.
Your home’s HVAC unit is one of the most expensive features of your home. Don’t neglect it. Spend a few hours at least once per year making sure it’s in good working order. Not only will your living space be more comfortable, but you also reduce the possibility of premature failure.