Being a homeowner requires a fair amount of maintenance to keep your home in tip-top shape. And one of the most important systems in your house is the HVAC, the heating and cooling system that keeps your home warm in winter and cool in summer. While there are certain times you should use a professional to help with upkeep for your HVAC system, there are also many easy tasks you can manage yourself, helping to save a few bucks and keeping your system running for years to come.
Clean Out Debris
According to DIY Network, regular care of your HVAC system will save you money and energy as well as extend the lifespan of the equipment itself. Whole home air conditioning units located outside your house can collect dust and debris. In order to safely clean out the unit, first be sure to shut off the power using your breaker box. Then use a screwdriver to lift off the fan cage and remove any leaves, mulch or other debris that has accumulated inside the unit. You can also use a hose to rinse off the exterior, but be sure to hose from the inside out. To prevent excess debris, make sure to regularly keep bushes and trees near the unit trimmed.
Replace Your Air Filter
Another important task any homeowner can do to both keep the HVAC running smoothly and improve the quality of air in your home is to regularly change the air filter. The EPA advises that you change your filter every 60-90 days, but if you have pets or smoke, it’s better to change your filter every 30 days. Keep in mind the quality and size of filter is important. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, MERV, is based on a national consensus standard and should be used to choose the best air filter. The higher the rating, the more contaminants are being filtered. Most HVACs can support a MERV of 7-12, but it’s best to research your system to find the correct size and highest-rated filter that can be used without restricting the airflow.
Failing to routinely change your air filter can also cause your health to suffer. A dirty air filter can trigger and worsen allergy issues from pollen, dirt and mold. When the air filter is dirty, all the particles that were previously trapped in the filter can now start to circulate through the home. Because most people spend a larger amount of time indoors as opposed to outdoors, exposure is higher and the quality of indoor air is especially important to consider.
When to Call the Professionals
Just as important as knowing DIY tips, it’s equally important to know when it’s time to call in the professionals. If you find your HVAC system unable to properly heat or cool your home, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem yourself. First check to see if there is power or if a breaker has flipped. If there is power to the unit, make sure that all debris is clear inside and around the outside of your unit. If you run through these tasks and it still doesn’t work, then it may be time to call in the professionals.
While some issues with your HVAC may be out of your area of expertise, frequent and routine cleaning is easy and encouraged to maintain the life of your system. Air filters are inexpensive, and they are easy to purchase and install yourself. Proper care and cleaning will result in money saved, lower energy usage, and cleaner air circulating throughout your home.
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