Though it’s not thought about often, the temperature inside your home impacts your daily life. It can determine what you wear, what you’re cooking, the health of your houseplants, and most importantly, how comfortable you are in your own home.
In homes with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (known as HVAC systems), regular maintenance of all your HVAC equipment is vital to ensure there are no malfunctions. When malfunctions do occur, you need to know what steps to take to prevent them from affecting the rest of your home. A neglected HVAC system is the root cause of a variety of household problems. If you have uneven temperatures in your home, strange odors, excess dust and dander, moldy ductwork, water leaks, or any temperature issues, it may be time to contact your local HVAC technician. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what the problem is and repair your system.
In between HVAC services, you can regularly check up on different parts of your system to make sure they’re running properly in the meantime. In the next section, you’ll find a checklist of HVAC maintenance tasks to help you determine if your system is healthy or if you need to call for professional help.
What is HVAC Maintenance?
Your HVAC equipment functions as a whole system. Homes with HVAC systems are fitted with equipment to control the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning features inside the house. Your HVAC system has multiple jobs, which means maintenance is never a one-and-done type of task.
HVAC maintenance involves both regular upkeep from the homeowner, as well professional HVAC services. Your local HVAC technician will do the heavy lifting, but there are features in your system that you should check up on once a month, once a season, and once a year. Here are some of the most important items to have on your checklist:
- Check your AC refrigerant lines. If these two copper lines show signs of leaks, your air conditioner is working inefficiently.
- In the summertime, turn off the water to your furnace humidifier.
- In the fall, turn the water back on and replace the humidifier filter.
- Change your air filter every 3 months.
- Use bleach to clean your AC condensation drain line.
- Make sure your outdoor AC unit is free of debris.
- Make sure your blower motor is lubricated and free of dust. Also, make sure to replace your fan belt if it is worn or not functioning properly.
- Make sure your carbon monoxide monitors all have fresh batteries.
Why is HVAC Maintenance Necessary?
Unresolved HVAC problems can have a domino effect – it’s important to find the root of the issues in the equipment quickly. If you let maintenance problems go unresolved, you could be racking up a hefty bill when you eventually schedule professional HVAC services. HVAC repair costs can be high in the first place. If you let problems prolong or spread, you could be doubling, or even tripling your bill. This is why we recommend you inspect your HVAC system monthly, quarterly, and yearly.
High HVAC repair costs aren’t the only reason you should be maintaining your HVAC system. A neglected system can cause health hazards that you don’t want your family around. Mold growth, excess dander and allergens, and low air quality can impact your loved ones. Luckily these problems and high HVAC repair costs can be avoided with regular maintenance.
What are the Most Common HVAC Problems?
HVAC systems involve a lot of equipment and moving parts, so there is a massive variety of issues that can arise. Despite this, there are a few common problems that homeowners face regularly.
One of these problems is a broken thermostat. A broken thermostat can cause issues like extreme temperatures, delayed cooling and heating, or no response at all. If this happens to you, we recommend changing your batteries, recalibrating your thermostat, reviewing your settings, or cleaning the buttons on the device.
Another common issue is low efficiency. Low efficiency means that heating and cooling have slowed down or that your system is unable to keep up with extreme outside temperatures. The first thing you want to do is check all your air filters. If air is being pumped through your system at a slower rate than normal, you could have a clogged air filter. It’s important to change your filters every 3 months to ensure that your HVAC system isn’t working harder than it needs to. With clogged filters, you’ll end up paying higher energy bills and your indoor air quality will be lower as well.
Leaks are another common HVAC problem. HVAC systems generate a substantial amount of moisture. If you’re finding leaks in your home due to HVAC equipment, you need to address this issue immediately. Excess moisture can cause mold, electrical, and structural damage that is extremely expensive to repair. To address a leak, first, check your drain pipes. Make sure you regularly clear them with vinegar or bleach. Also, check for pipe damage and repair minor cracks. Any other issues you may find should be addressed by a professional.
Another common HVAC issue is dust build-up in your furnace. This makes your furnace much less efficient because dust usually collects on the cooling coils on the inside, decreasing its ability to transfer heat. This makes your furnace work harder and longer to warm up the air, which reflects in your monthly power bill. In extreme cases of dust build-up, heat can get trapped inside your furnace. This will overheat your furnace equipment and the whole furnace will shut off. You will then have to hire a professional furnace repair service.
The same principle can be applied to your AC coils. They can also collect dust and become inefficient, wasting your hard-earned money over time. To avoid dusty coils and expensive air conditioner and furnace repair fees, make sure you have air filters installed. Remember to change them at least once every 3 months or they will get clogged and lower your indoor air quality. You also want to ensure that your filters are the right size. Filters that are too small will easily let dust through and filters that are too big get crumpled and do not filter out dust as effectively.
These are just a few frequent problems homeowners encounter, there are dozens more issues that could arise. Some of these common HVAC problems can be fixed with a simple flip of a switch or a new air filter. Beyond that though, we advise that you hire professional HVAC services for more complicated maintenance tasks. This will preserve the lifespan of your equipment and ensure all repairs are made correctly.
Is my Air Filter Causing HVAC Problems?
HVAC systems constantly have air traveling through them. Air carries dust, dander, allergens, and other forms of debris that can break your HVAC equipment. Luckily, changing your air filters regularly can help you avoid these issues.
Air filters trap dust and prevent it from entering certain parts of your equipment. Dirty air filters that have reached their capacity in trapping debris let air through much slower than a clean air filter. This could be why it may seem like your furnace or air conditioner is taking forever to work. If you have a clogged air filter, you’re likely pumping dusty air back into your home and lowering the overall air quality. This defeats the purpose of having an air filter.
Blower motors circulate air through your HVAC system. A clogged air filter makes your blower motor work harder than it has to in order to push air through your ductwork. It will take much longer and more energy to pump the same volume of air through a clogged filter than a clean filter. Additionally, dust that is not trapped by an air filter can settle on the fan’s blades and make it slow. This means your HVAC system will be on for longer than it needs to. If this is happening to you, you’re paying more money for slower heating, cooling, and poor indoor air quality too. This is if you’re lucky. If you have an exceptionally clogged filter, your blower motor may seriously struggle to push air through. This could overheat your blower motor and cause a burn out – permanently damaging or entirely breaking the machine.
As mentioned previously, having a dirty air filter can also make your furnace less efficient, it might even damage it enough for you to need furnace repairs. To avoid dusty coils, overheating, and furnace failure, make sure you change your air filters on time to prevent dust from entering parts of the equipment it shouldn’t. For more information on furnace filter problems and furnace repair, check out our article Clogged Furnace Filter Symptoms.
Having air filters installed is crucial, but getting the right size air filter is arguably more important. With the wrong size, your air filter may not even be making a difference. A filter that is too small will leave large gaps for dust and debris to pass through. A filter that is too big will not fit in your ductwork unless you bend or crumple the frame. Distorting the filter this way can make holes that let dust through. Getting the wrong size filter wastes your money in multiple ways. You’re paying for wasted filters, higher energy bills, and potential repair costs. Be sure to take accurate measurements when determining your filter size and don’t settle for a filter that’s "about the same size" you need. If you’re unable to find filters that fit your measurements, Filterbuy can help. We make over 600 filter sizes across 3 different MERV ratings and can even produce custom-size filters just for you!
How Much Does HVAC Maintenance Cost?
HVAC maintenance includes dozens of services, large and small. The degree of labor involved in your service and your location will affect how much HVAC services cost for you. This makes it difficult to estimate general HVAC repair costs but knowing what repairs you need and what new equipment you need to purchase is a good start.
On average, HVAC repair costs range from $100 to $600. This does not include the cost of the service call before your repair, which comes in at between $100 and $250. HVAC service providers will also likely charge an hourly or flat rate for the labor. Hourly rates typically range from $50 to $100 an hour.
Here are some factors that impact HVAC service costs:
- What state you’re located in.
- The size of your home.
- The severity of damages.
- The cost of replacement parts.
- The quality of replacement parts.
- The hours of labor.
Here are some common replacement part prices and labor costs from a variety of sources:
Keep in mind that these prices are estimates for an average American home. Depending on where you live in the country and the size of your home, these HVAC repair costs could be drastically different.
How to Prevent HVAC Problems
If you want to avoid high HVAC repair costs, you need to regularly maintain and check up on your HVAC system. This involves monthly, quarterly, and annual inspections done by you as well as regularly by a professional. This prevents problems from building up and causing unnecessary damage to your equipment and the rest of your home.
One of the best things you can do for your HVAC system is regularly replace your air filters. Air filters get clogged over time and these clogged filters can cause issues in your HVAC equipment later down the line. Based on the HVAC repair cost estimates mentioned previously, the price for HVAC parts and labor is not cheap. In many cases, you’ll be spending upwards of $1000 just for the parts you need! Keeping a steady supply of clean air filters on hand can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
With Filterbuy’s auto-delivery subscription program, you can get the highest quality U.S.-made air filters delivered to your door exactly when you need them. Choose from 600+ filter sizes across 3 different MERV ratings. Can’t find your size? No worries - we can make filters to custom-fit your needs. The best part is that all Filterbuy orders ship free!
If you’re looking for other easy ways to make your HVAC system more efficient, Filterbuy LOCAL offers air duct cleaning services. Our technicians are EPA certified and our pricing is guaranteed! Call today to get a quote!