A Checklist for Maintaining Your Home’s Heating and Cooling Systems
Properly maintaining your home’s heating and cooling systems can improve energy efficiency, reduce your utility bills, and prevent the need for costly repairs. The best time to check your systems is in the spring and fall, before a heating and air conditioning contractors’ busy summer and winter seasons.
You can do many general maintenance checks yourself and then report potential problems to a trusted heating and air conditioning professional. It’s also a good idea to hire a professional to do a thorough inspection once or twice a year. A typical checklist should include:
- Reviewing your thermostat settings to make sure the temperature inside your home makes things comfortable when you’re there and saves energy when you’re not.
- Tightening electrical connections to make sure your appliances are running safely and to prolong the life of system components.
- Lubricating moving parts to reduce damaging friction and strain on your home’s electrical supply.
- Inspecting condensation drains if your home has central air, a furnace or a heat pump. Blocked drains can lead to water damage and mold infestation.
- Checking system controls to make sure everything is working properly. Be sure systems start, run and shut down as they should.
- Cleaning and changing air filters on your furnace, air conditioner and heat pump regularly. Dirty filters increase utility costs and can damage equipment. Most filter manufacturers have recommended replacement schedules clearly printed on product packaging.
If your home has central air conditioning or if you use portable window air conditioners, the following are some routine maintenance issues you should be aware of. (If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, it’s best to consult a certified professional heating and air conditioning contractor such as Horizon Services):
- Clean the evaporator mechanism and condenser coils. Dirty coils will restrict the air conditioner’s effectiveness in cooling your home, making the system work overtime to compensate. This will cost you more on your utilities and can significantly shorten the life of your system.
- Check refrigerant levels and adjust fluids as necessary. The wrong amount of refrigerant chemicals circulating through a system can cause irreparable damage and will increase your energy usage.
- Have blower components cleaned and adjusted if needed. This ensures that the proper amount of air is flowing through the system at all times, which makes for more comfortable temperatures. Airflow restriction can decrease your energy efficiency by as much as 15 percent.
Heating systems require regular inspection and maintenance, too. No matter what kind of heat source you use, the following checklist can help your system work as effectively and efficiently as possible:
- Check all connections, especially if your heat is supplied by oil or natural gas. Loose or malfunctioning connections create a fire hazard and can lead to serious health risks like carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure pilot burners and heat exchangers are functioning properly. Dirty, damaged or malfunctioning burners and exchangers can impede the operation of your system and may cause heating equipment to run less safely and less efficiently.