Your HVAC system is a major investment in your home. Most homeowners want to get the longest service life and have the lowest operating cost possible. To make this happen, your system requires periodic maintenance. HVAC maintenance is crucial, and it is important to understand the difference between spring and fall maintenance. Let’s take a look at how maintenance varies based on the season and review three major things that should be included in an HVAC maintenance visit.
Why Your HVAC System Needs Maintenance
First, let’s start by exploring why HVAC maintenance is important for your system. Any mechanical system will experience reduced performance if it isn’t properly maintained. For your HVAC system, that means that you’ll slowly lose heating and cooling efficiency. It also means that you may not achieve comfort in your home, either by not maintaining your desired temperature or experiencing high humidity. That efficiency also affects repairs and HVAC system longevity, with lower efficiency reducing the lifespan of your system and increasing repair costs.
Further, HVAC manufacturers understand how important maintenance is to prevent premature failure. Therefore, they usually include a provision in the factory warranty stipulating you must have routine professional HVAC maintenance to keep the warranty valid.
Difference Between Fall and Spring Maintenance
Most standard HVAC systems need two maintenance visits a year, with each visit focusing on a single function of your system. The goal of two separate visits each year is to give attention to the unit and function you’re going to use for the next several months. Ideally, you’ll have a visit in the spring that focuses on your air conditioner and one in the fall that focuses on your furnace.
It’s better to separate HVAC maintenance into two different visits because the unused unit will collect airborne contaminants while it’s not in use. You should clean these out before starting to use the unit regularly for the season to improve efficiency and reduce wear. Further, your system uses the air handler throughout the year, which means it needs attention more than once a year to keep it operating optimally. Each maintenance visit should include the following three broad classifications of tasks.
1. Inspection and Cleaning
The first thing your technician will do is a visual inspection and cleaning of your unit. They’ll start by doing a visual inspection of the exterior of the unit, which is indicative of what they may find inside. It also gives them a good idea of how well the unit is sealed to keep out contaminants of various kinds. They’ll then move to inspect interior components. For your furnace, special attention is given to the heat exchanger to ensure it’s not cracked. For the air conditioner, they’ll check both the evaporator and condensing coils to ensure they aren’t leaking.
When it comes time to clean your unit, they’ll focus on the evaporator coil inside and the full outdoor unit for your AC, which includes the condensing coil. In the fall, they’ll clean your heat exchanger, your burner, and the thermocouple, which is an integral part of the ignition system. Finally, they’ll clean the circulating fan wheel during both the spring and fall visits to maintain the amount of air it’s moving when it cycles.
Next, they’ll do a series of tests around both units. This will include testing individual components, like the AC contactor and capacitor and the circulating fan’s blower motor. They’ll also run a full heating or cooling cycle to ensure that the various components are activating properly. Each of the safety mechanisms is on the list to test to ensure they’re still working properly. In the spring, they’ll also check the level of refrigerant in the system. The goal of the testing is to catch small problems before they create a significant strain on your system.
They’ll also do several adjustments throughout the system. This includes tightening electrical connections and mounting hardware. In the fall, they’ll adjust the burner to ensure it’s burning fuel efficiently to create the optimal amount of heat. Your thermostat is also checked and calibrated if needed. Finally, the tech will lubricate all moving parts that aren’t factory sealed.
What’s Not Included
As you welcome a technician into your home to maintain your HVAC system, it’s important to set proper expectations. They will likely check your air filter to let you know if it’s time for a replacement. However, that’s normally not included with maintenance. Further, repairs that are performed are not typically covered in the cost of maintenance. Your tech will walk you through your options if they find anything that needs additional attention.
People around Richmond have turned to Affordable Service Solutions Heating & Air Conditioning to keep their HVAC systems running reliably and efficiently since 2012. Our technicians pride themselves on providing dependable heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance, and repair together with geothermal and indoor air quality solutions. Call to schedule your HVAC maintenance with our expert technicians.