It’s that time of year, when everyone in Pennsylvania is really looking forward to the end of winter and excited for warmer days to come. March marks the official beginning of spring. Though it may not feel like it yet, summer is just around the corner.
Mid-seasons are the best time to take care of HVAC maintenance. As you turn off the furnace for the winter and prepare to turn the air conditioning for the summer, some simple upkeep is vital. Maintenance is key to getting the best performance and longest life out of your heating and cooling system. Preventative measures reduce the risk of expensive urgent repairs and inconvenient breakdowns. Failing to properly care for a new HVAC system can also put warranty coverage at risk.
Here are 10 easy steps for the early spring that any homeowner can take to keep the HVAC system in top condition. Let’s start our maintenance tip list on the outside of the house and work our way in…
- Clear Debris from the Outdoor Unit
- Visually Inspect the Outdoor Unit
- Have the Ducts Cleaned
- Replace the HVAC Filter
- Upgrade the HVAC Filter
- Get a Smart Thermostat
- Air Things Out
- Check for Air Leaks
- Test the Cooling Function
- Stay Regular with Annual HVAC Maintenance Servicing
1. Clear Debris from the Outdoor Unit
During the fall and winter, debris has likely built up around the external unit. Before starting your spring landscaping projects, make sure to clean up around the HVAC system. Rake away leaves, branches and dirt that have collected in the two-foot areas surrounding it. Cut back bushes and plants that are growing near it as well. You can use a simple garden hose or vacuum attachment to clean off the coils from the grimy winter buildup. Keeping it clear will help the system to cool without unnecessary stress.
2. Visually Inspect the Outdoor Unit
You will also want to make sure that the outdoor unit is level and on a stable surface to ensure top performance when the summer heat hits. Visually check the condenser for signs that it has been damaged during the winter, as well. If something looks unusual, give your HVAC tech a call. A damaged condenser could be a serious problem when it comes time to turn on the air conditioning.
3. Have the Ducts Cleaned
For great indoor air quality, early spring is the right time to schedule a professional duct cleaning. Before you turn the air conditioning on, it’s best to have the ducts cleaned. This will free them of all the dust, mold and other allergens that have accumulated over the winter. Plus, it will help allergy sufferers by clearing the spring pollen out of the home’s air system. We advise homeowners to schedule duct cleaning service about every five to seven years.
4. Replace the HVAC Filter
You probably already know the importance of regularly replacing the filter of your HVAC system. Dirty filters restrict airflow and foster mold growth. Additionally, old filters cause the heating and A/C system to work harder and consume more energy as it runs. To keep things running smoothly, change out the filter every 30 – 90 days.
5. Upgrade the HVAC Filter
Our HVAC maintenance advice is to go beyond replacing the filter. Consider upgrading the filter as well. Homeowners can improve air quality and system performance with a new, high-efficiency pleated filter. A step up from the standard filter, these have an electrostatic charge to attract particles of dust and bacteria and trap them inside the filter.
6. Get a Smart Thermostat
Take advantage of technology to keep your HVAC unit running at peak efficiency. Not only can a programmable thermostat reduce energy costs at your home, but it can actually extend the life of your system. By optimizing the temperatures throughout the day and week, your system experiences less stress and wear throughout the year.
7. Air Things Out
Enjoy the fresh spring air. You can improve air quality within your home by shutting the HVAC system down for a few weeks. When the season hits that sweet spot – when the temperatures neither require heat nor cooling – open up the windows. You can also increase air flow and circulation by using fans inside the house. Letting in the fresh air and sunshine is even good for your health!
8. Check for Air Leaks
Even if your HVAC system is well maintained, it will be a constant struggle to cool a home that is not well sealed. As you work on spring upkeep jobs around your house, keep an eye out for places where air can leak out. Check the weather stripping around the windows, door jambs and the seals around the doors. If you see signs of cracked, detaching or warped weather stripping and seals, it’s probably time to replace them. Making sure that the envelope of the home is sealed tightly will help eliminate irregular temperatures in the various zones. Plus, this will decrease the workload and allow your HVAC unit to work more easily and efficiently in both the summer and winter.
9. Test the Cooling Function
Homeowners want to avoid inconvenient surprises when the temperatures rise later in the spring and it’s time to turn on the air conditioning. Make sure your A/C works now, before it gets hot out. First, set your thermostat for a few degrees lower than the current indoor temperature. Then, wait for the HVAC unit to turn on. Give it time to start working. Next, check that cool air is coming out of the vents around the house. Finally, listen for any clicking or other strange noises as the unit is running. If it doesn’t seem to be functioning normally, schedule a checkup with your trusted HVAC techs.
10. Stay Regular with Annual HVAC Maintenance Servicing
Don’t forget to schedule an HVAC checkup at least once per year. Certified technicians will check refrigerant levels and test the airflow and output of the system. They will tighten all the main electrical connections and hoses. Plus, the tech will look for signs of wear on key components, including the compressor, tubing, fan and motor blades.
Regular HVAC maintenance is key to keeping your system working well for as long as possible. Repairing or replacing a part now could save you a lot of money and hassle in the long-term.
Find more helpful seasonal tips here: Prepare Your HVAC System for the Spring and AQM’s Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist for Your HVAC Unit.