Heat Saver: Preventative HVAC Care Tips
How's your HVAC? Do you even know where your HVAC is located? What if you never knew you had HVAC? Here's the good news: You've got HVAC. It stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Every home, apartment or office has some version of working HVAC. Without that the space would simply be uninhabitable. Just because you don't have central air conditioning doesn't mean you don't have ventilation. It all falls under the same category of "air circulation." If any part of your HVAC system falters you'll know it right away!
Here's the better news: There are some easy maintenance steps you could be taking to insure your HVAC system is working as efficiently as it should. Like the best type of DIY projects for your home, these tips won't take up much of your free time and can be accomplished with very little effort. The goal is not to get caught in the cold without the heat and vice versa.
Get to Know Your HVAC
If you don't already, you should get to know your HVAC systems. Often homeowners take HVAC for granted. They know where the thermostat controls are and can see the vents in floor, ceilings or wall, but the exploration and familiarity might end there. Follow the vents. They'll lead to your heating and cooling systems. These are the brains of your HVAC. Knowing how they should be operating will help you instantly recognize when something is wrong.
If you have a central heating and/or air condition unit you should also have a guidebook. Crack it open and give it a read. If you can't find the guidebook, head to the internet. The manufacturer will surely have it available as a download. If your unit is outside, it's a good idea to stroll by it once a week to make sure there is no debris like leaves or grass piled up.
Check those Filters
Depending on the size of your interior vents you might have filters that need upkeep. You should give a quick glance to the filters every month. Simply pop open the vent and check to see that the filter isn't overwhelmed with dust or lint. All your filters should be replaced every 6 months. A good way to remember is to make the switch when you set your clocks forward or backwards. You know, the same time you're supposed to be swapping out your smoke alarm batteries. You can find replacement filters are most hardware stores and even places like Target and Wal-Mart.
Look for Mold
Any area of your HVAC system that creates moisture can also become a breeding ground for mold. Don't panic! A solution of half bleach and half water will wipe out the mold before it takes hold. Additionally you should give any evaporator coils a wipe down at least once a month or if you happen to see spots forming. Any standing water should be wiped up as quickly as possible. This means checking after rain and snowstorms. As the yard dries so should your HVAC unit.
Check the Fans
You HVAC system will have fans as part of its operating process. Fans are the perfect collector of dust and grime. These should be wiped down often to avoid any of those particulates being circulated back into your ventilation system. These are the kinds of simple clean-up chores that should be added to your normal cleaning routines.
Bring in the Pros
As dedicated as you might be to the DIY process, there are some things that just might be above your pay grade. Every 2 years you should bring in a certified HVAC technician to give your entire system the once over. They'll be able to take it apart for a thorough cleaning and recommend any replacement parts. This will ensure your HVAC unit will live up to its warranty.
Following these simple maintenance tips should have your HVAC humming all year long.