May 15, 2024

Useful Tips To Prolong The Life Of Your HVAC System

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system maintains a comfortable and controlled climate inside your home. It's also a major monetary investment, so you want to keep it in tip-top condition for as long as possible. The factors that lead to HVAC system failure include accumulated dirt and neglected maintenance tasks, but if you follow the right tips, you can make this important equipment last between 15 to 25 years.

>>>>>>>First, you'll want to ensure that the system is the correct size for your home. Next, it's wise to connect with a trained HVAC technician to perform annual inspections, cleaning, and tuneups, along with repairs, as needed. You can do your part by changing the air filter regularly, keeping the outdoor unit free of debris, and programming your thermostat for optimal performance. Pay attention to the needs of your HVAC system on a regular basis, and you can prolong its life for many years of reliable service.

Whether you're purchasing an HVAC system for a new home or replacing a heating and cooling unit after the old one died, it's important to get the right size. A system that is too small will work overtime and wear out quickly. On the other hand, an overly large unit will wear out due to frequent on/off switching. A right-size HVAC system will keep your home's air temperature and humidity comfortably controlled while working at maximum efficiency.

To determine the correct size system for your home, you'll want to calculate the requisite load, measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). Several factors enter into the load calculation. Start with the number of square feet in your home's floor plan and multiply it by 25. Then, multiply the number of people living in the house by 100. After that, count the number of windows in your home and multiply that number by 1,000. Do the same with the number of exterior doors, multiplying the total by 1,000. Now, you have four numbers, each in the hundreds or thousands. Add them all together, and you'll find the correct number of BTUs required for an efficient HVAC system. A heating and cooling system in a size that matches your load calculation will offer maximum efficiency and longevity for your home's requirements.

There are many DIY jobs that you can do around your home, but inspecting the HVAC system is not one of them. To keep your system running at max efficiency for many years, it's best to trust a professional with the job of performing an annual inspection and tune-up.

A professional technician performs an array of tasks during an annual inspection. They check numerous functions in the system, including wiring connections, air filtration, vent pipes, manifold pressure, and more. Additionally, they ensure safety by checking the electronic spark ignition, hot surface igniter, flame sensor, and potential gas leaks in the heating equipment. The technician runs tests on all capacitors and lubricates all moving parts. Additionally, they clean and adjust multiple aspects of the system, including the condenser coils, the safety controls, and the thermostat. This is simply a partial list of the detailed steps that a professional completes, but you get an idea of how thorough it is.

You lead a busy life, and it's easy to forget when you last replaced your HVAC air filter. Although this task might slip your mind, the system will last longer if you remember to change it on an appropriate schedule. There's no universal rule about when to change the filter; it depends on the type you use. But if you're looking for a general guideline, count on changing the air filter every 90 days.

To be more exact, you should change your air filter according to its type. An inexpensive, 1-inch thick, fiberglass filter should be changed every 30 days. However, thicker filters may last longer. A 2-inch thick filter can function well for 90 days, while a 3-inch filter should be replaced after 4 months, and a 4-inch model can go for 6 months.

If you have pets that shed their hair, you should change your HVAC air filter more frequently than the recommended time period. For example, a home with pets might require an air-filter change every 60 days instead of every 90 days. Make a habit of visually inspecting your filter on a regular basis. If you see a coating of dust or pet hair, you'll know the system is working harder to move clean air throughout your home. Replace it to take the stress off your HVAC system and protect its long life.

The vents and ducts in your HVAC system provide the means for clean air to circulate throughout your home. If these passageways become clogged with dirt, dust, pet hair, mold, and mildew, your system struggles to operate efficiently and eventually succumbs to the extra stress. You cannot see the interior of your air ducts, but a professional technician has the tools and skill to clean every inch of your system to keep it operating smoothly. As an added benefit, your heating and cooling bills may be reduced by more than 30% after cleaning your vents and ducts.

While the Environmental Protection Agency does not make specific recommendations regarding vent and duct cleaning, they do encourage professional cleaning when certain problems exist. These conditions include the presence of mold, an infestation of rodents or insects, and a build-up of excessive dust and dirt. Along with the annual cleaning of HVAC operating parts during professional inspection, the duct- and vent-cleaning process helps your system operate efficiently. As an added bonus, cleaning these items improves the air quality in your home, and the occupants may benefit from a healthier indoor environment.

The primary function of an HVAC system is to make your home as comfortable as possible, despite outdoor temperature and humidity fluctuations. In an effort to prolong the life of your system, you can manipulate a programmable thermostat so it only runs when you're home and awake. With reduced stress, your HVAC equipment should last longer.

You can save money and help your HVAC system by programming your thermostat for winter heating and summer cooling. In winter, you should set it to 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the hours that you're at home and awake. Then, you can program the system to maintain the temperature at around 58 to 63 degrees during the hours when you're asleep or away from home. The advantage of a programmable thermostat is that you can set it to turn on the system before you get up in the morning or arrive home in the evening, allowing time for the house to warm up.

The same principle applies to summertime cooling. Program it for around 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the hours you're home and awake. Then, program it for a slightly higher temperature when you're away from home.

Your HVAC system has two settings for the fan: "on" and "auto." When you use the "on" setting, the fan runs continuously. But when the fan is set to "auto," it turns off as soon as the system heats or cools your home to the desired temperature. For example, if the thermostat is set to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, the fan will run while the HVAC system is actively cooling the warmer air to reach 70 degrees. When the air reaches that temperature, the fan shuts off automatically.

Keeping the fan on the "auto" setting minimizes the work of the system's blower motor. Instead of running continuously, the fan motor experiences periods of rest. Additionally, not running the fan constantly helps to preserve the air filters. They do not become clogged as quickly as when the fan is set to the "on" function.

The HVAC system works hard in hot and humid weather to keep your home comfortably cool. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the summertime stress on your system. First, you can utilize window coverings to keep the sun from warming your home's interior. Close the curtains, drapes, or blinds when you plan to be away from home. Better yet, install thermal shades to keep the sun's warmth at bay.

If possible, you should provide shade from outside your windows, as well. Plant shade trees or install lattice-type trellises with climbing vines that shade your windows and prevent thermal heat from warming the house. Next, you can do an inspection of your home to find any cracks or crevices where heat can transfer from the outdoor to inside Caulk and fill any tiny openings that you find.

To avoid overworking your AC, you can focus on how your body feels inside the home on a hot day. Try wearing lightweight, loose clothing and running a ceiling fan to increase your comfort. Keep yourself hydrated and opt for minimal exercise during hot weather as a means to avoid setting your thermostat to an unreasonably low temperature. Your proactive efforts can help the HVAC system run less.

Your HVAC system consists of an indoor unit along with an outdoor unit. While the indoor one requires clutter removal along with occasional vacuuming to minimize dust accumulation, the outdoor unit requires vigilant maintenance at least once a year. Keep shrubbery and trees pruned back from the outdoor unit at least 2 feet on all sides. This allows adequate airflow for the system to operate smoothly. Additionally, you should rake and remove fallen leaves, small branches, and other yard debris that accumulates around the unit. For best results, you can remove the yard waste from around the unit whenever you mow the grass and perform regular yard maintenance.

The outdoor HVAC unit houses the condenser coils for the air conditioning component of the system. These coils can become clogged and dirty, leading to inefficient operation. At least once a year, you should turn off the system at the thermostat, shut down the electrical power to the outdoor unit, remove its outer casing, and clean the AC coils. Clean the coils with a garden hose and mild detergent or an AC coil cleaner. Use a fin comb to gently straighten and separate the metal fins in the unit. When the unit is thoroughly dry, you can replace the casing, turn on the electrical power, and restart the HVAC system at the thermostat.

There's no doubt that adequate insulation is a major factor in keeping your home's interior rooms comfortably warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In a properly insulated home, the HVAC system is not overworked or taxed to the limits of its capabilities. Insulating your home sufficiently, you can ensure a longer life for the system.

Many older homes lack the insulation of modern structures. You'll know you need to add more insulation if you notice drafts and uneven heating, with hot and cold spots throughout your rooms. If your walls, ceilings, and floors feel damp to the touch, you should add more. Similarly, a noticeable fluctuation of overly warm or cold indoor temperatures signals an insufficiently insulated structure. At the extremes of winter temperatures, you may even notice icicles and frozen pipes.

For best results, you should hire a reliable insulation contractor to perform an energy assessment on your home. Alternatively, you might be able to do the job yourself. Start by locating the insulation in your home and determining its type. Measure its thickness and calculate its R-value (thermal resistance). To get the R-value, measure the thickness of the insulation in inches and divide it by the thermal conductivity of the insulation, which you can find online. Adding insulation to increase the R-value will relieve the stress on your HVAC system and help it last longer.

Maintaining a home can be an expensive endeavor. Sometimes, it seems that the bills for repairing and replacing equipment and structural issues can mount up. That's why it's easy to put off making repairs until a system breaks down. But this approach to maintaining your HVAC system will not lead to prolonging its life. Instead, you should hire an HVAC technician to do the necessary repairs when you first notice problems.

If your energy bills are going up, even without a rate increase, the reason may be that your HVAC system needs a tune-up. Similarly, the house may feel too warm or cold, depending on the weather. You might notice a weak airflow coming through the vents, and you may feel that your air is overly humid in the summer.

If you postpone calling a professional, these and other problems will only get worse. An HVAC technician can inspect the system, diagnose the causes of the heating and cooling problems, and repair the faulty parts. Additionally, they perform cleaning and maintenance tasks that prevent future issues, leading to a longer lifespan for the system.