Everything Louisville Homeowners Need to Know About HVAC Maintenance

The Reputation

Heating and cooling systems are a vital part of any Louisville home. To keep this equipment running at its best, furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, and boilers need regular maintenance attention. Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling shares everything you need to know to keep your HVAC systems in top shape – find out all about tune ups, maintenance frequency, and more!

Do HVAC Units Need Regular Maintenance?

Heating and cooling units are mechanical systems that have many working parts. As the system runs, these parts are impacted by wear and tear – it’s inevitable, and part of normal system use. If left unchecked, damage caused by wear and tear mounts to cause performance issues, a decline in energy efficiency, and system breakdowns. HVAC maintenance is the key to remedying wear and tear damage and protecting the home’s heating and cooling equipment!

How Often Is HVAC Maintenance Needed?

HVAC equipment manufacturers say HVAC maintenance should be performed annually for heating systems and cooling units. Some types of equipment need only one tune up each year, while others require two – it depends on the system’s function.

  • Furnaces, air conditioners, and boilers need only one tune up per year, as they either heat or cool the home.
  • Heat pumps, both air source and geothermal, need two tune ups each year, because they both heat and cool.

It’s best to complete HVAC maintenance tune ups before the start of the upcoming heating or cooling season to ensure your system is all ready to go when that first hot or chilly day arrives. Schedule cooling tune ups for air conditioners and heat pumps in the early to late spring, and schedule heating tune ups for furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps in the early to mid-fall. If you’re running late, that’s ok! Don’t skip your annual tune up, just go ahead and make sure to get one scheduled as soon as possible.

In addition to professional HVAC preventative maintenance service twice per year, other maintenance tasks should be performed periodically in between those service visits. These are the tasks you can do yourself, which covers essential cleaning of the system and testing vital components.

  • Air filter replacement – should be checked monthly and replaced on a schedule appropriate for the filter type and your household
  • Exterior unit cleaning – perform as needed
  • Interior unit cleaning – perform as needed
  • Thermostat battery check – test batteries monthly and replace them every six months or as necessary
  • Carbon monoxide detector test – test function monthly and replace batteries every six months

What Is HVAC Maintenance All About?

The purpose of an HVAC preventative maintenance tune up is to provide the TLC your heating and cooling units and their many components need to continue with reliable, energy efficient operation. A tune up is a service performed by a licensed HVAC professional which addresses the entirety of the system, from inspecting components for issues, verifying their performance, and providing the service required to keep each part in top shape.

All aspects of a tune up work to deliver these advantages for homeowners:

  1. Improved heating and cooling performance for better comfort
  2. More energy efficient operation for lower operating costs
  3. Fewer and less serious system malfunctions
  4. Enhanced system longevity for longer service life
  5. Preserved warranty coverage

Problems You May Avoid with Regular HVAC Maintenance

With so many working parts, there are a number of issues which can arise within a furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner. Luckily, many of these issues can be avoided with one simple service – a maintenance tune up! A tune up erases damage caused by wear and tear so your system components don’t malfunction, and minor system issues can be identified and corrected before they develop into something that causes noticeable symptoms and serious repairs.

With regular HVAC maintenance tune ups, you’re more likely to prevent system issues such as:

  • Tripped breakers
  • Thermostat malfunctions
  • Blown fuses
  • Ignition system malfunctions
  • Overheating
  • Heat exchanger damage
  • Short cycling
  • Poor airflow
  • Poor heat transfer
  • Water leaks

Does a Technician Need to Complete HVAC Maintenance?

A good HVAC maintenance strategy involves both professional tune ups and DIY tasks. The inner workings of a furnace, heat pump, boiler, or air conditioner are complicated and can be easily damaged by someone who isn’t experienced in working on such systems. When it comes to the tasks covered by a professional HVAC maintenance tune up, it’s best to trust your technician to handle this side of your system.

What Is Included in an HVAC Maintenance Tune Up?

There are a number of steps included in the average HVAC maintenance tune up, as heating and cooling systems have many different components that are used to achieve the comfortable conditions you desire indoors. While the actual steps may vary a little bit between different HVAC companies, in general they address all vital components of your system.

All HVAC units:

  • Verify thermostat function
  • Check sequence of operations
  • Examine electrical connections and tighten if needed
  • Lubricate moving parts
  • Inspect disconnect power box
  • Inspect breaker
  • Monitor fan control
  • Monitor airflow and adjust if needed
  • Measure amp and volt draw
  • Assess temperature rise and drop
  • Inspect capacitor and contactors
  • Clean exterior cabinet

Furnaces and boilers:

  • Measure carbon monoxide levels
  • Analyze indoor air quality
  • Test safety controls function
  • Inspect sequencer
  • Inspect burners and ignition system
  • Check gas valve operation
  • Assess gas line connections
  • Measure gas pressure
  • Inspect heat exchanger or heating elements
  • Inspect oil nozzle and filter, replace filter if needed

Air conditioners and heat pumps:

  • Inspect refrigerant connections
  • Measure refrigerant charge
  • Inspect and clean condensate drain
  • Clean condenser coil
  • Inspect evaporator coil
  • Assess compressor and terminals
  • Verify operation of reversing valve and defrost control (for heat pumps)

How Do I Maintain My HVAC Units?

Knowing that maintenance is necessary for your home’s heating and cooling units is half the battle – knowing how to perform these tasks is the other. Luckily, homeowner HVAC maintenance tasks are quite easy to perform, and don’t take up much of your time!

DIY vs Professional Maintenance Tasks

As explained above, there are professional elements of HVAC maintenance as well as tasks you can handle yourself. How do you know where to draw the line? As a homeowner, your focus should be on maintaining the air filter and keeping the units clean. As far as the interior components of your furnace, air conditioner, boiler, or heat pump, let that be your technician’s territory. When you stick to this approach, you can avoid accidental damage to important system components while ensuring every part of your heating or cooling unit receives the vital care it needs.

Cleaning HVAC Equipment

Cleaning an HVAC system involves some indoor cleaning as well as outdoor cleaning. Inside, the focus is on the air filter as well as keeping the surrounding area clean. Outdoors, you want to remove anything that could obstruct airflow through the heat pump or air conditioning condenser, as well as protect it from damage.

Cleaning your outdoor air conditioner or heat pump:

  • At the breaker, turn off power to the outside unit.
  • Use a soft brush to clear off any mulch, leaves, grass clippings, twigs, and other natural bits and pieces that have stuck on the fins or settled atop or around the unit. If some bits are tough to remove, use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment or a water hose with a gentle spray.
  • Weed the area surrounding the base of your unit, pulling out any vines, weeds, grass, or other plants that could grow up along the fins on the unit’s exterior.
  • Prune nearby shrubbery and trim branches on overhead trees to prevent obstruction and possible damage due to fallen branches. Always leave a minimum of two feet worth of clearance surrounding all sides of the unit.
  • Flip the breaker back on to restore power once you are finished.

Changing your air filter:

  • Slide the existing filter out of the filter cabinet and look to see if its surface area is filled with contaminants. If so, a new filter is needed. If you have trouble determining if the filter should be replaced, hold it up to a light and see if any shines through – if not, a new filter is necessary.
  • When you insert a new filter, make sure it is the same dimensions as the old filter. Position the new filter according to the airflow indicator arrows printed around its frame to ensure it is placed into the cabinet in the correct orientation.
  • At this time, it’s a good idea to wipe down the metal cabinet of your furnace or air handler to remove dust and dirt. This keeps the equipment clean and helps eliminate debris that could move inside the system and settle on components.
  • Make sure no items are stored up against the furnace or air handler. Keep a clear space of at least six feet surrounding the equipment and never store flammable items nearby.

How Much Will HVAC Maintenance Cost?

Yes, HVAC preventative maintenance is an ongoing cost, but it truly is a wise investment. Paying for two tune ups per year certainly  beats the cost of replacing your entire HVAC system every few years due to neglect!

An HVAC preventative maintenance tune up runs on average between $75 and $150. HVAC companies will often offer special promotions that lower the price of maintenance service, so be sure to ask about any savings offers when you schedule your tune up. This fee covers all steps of the tune up – if repair needs are diagnosed, repair costs will be additional.

Is It Worth It to Join an HVAC Maintenance Plan?

While the cost of HVAC maintenance is already amazingly low, you can save even more when you join an HVAC maintenance plan! Preventative maintenance agreement, maintenance service contract, maintenance membership – companies call these plans different names, but in general they cover the 2 tune ups a home’s HVAC system needs each year. Typically, membership offers additional perks that allow you to access even further savings and advantages, such as:

  • Priority scheduling
  • Extended labor warranties
  • Discounts on diagnostic services
  • Discounts on HVAC repairs
  • Savings when you buy new HVAC or indoor air quality products
  • And more!

While the various savings sure are nice, many homeowners choose to join HVAC maintenance plans because membership assures annual maintenance visits are taken care of. HVAC maintenance tune ups are often overlooked and forgotten about, which can be detrimental to the performance and longevity of your system. With priority scheduling, your HVAC company makes sure to get ahold of you when it’s time for a tune up, so you don’t have to worry about making the call – or forgetting to.

Schedule Your Next HVAC Maintenance Tune Up Now

Keep your air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, or boiler in top shape this season and beyond when you ensure it receives the TLC it needs. Schedule your next HVAC preventative maintenance tune up when you contact Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling today! If you’d prefer to leave the scheduling to us, ask about our True Comfort Membership, which includes your annual HVAC tune ups and so much more!

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