Being negligent about your HVAC system means:
- It can break down at any minute.
- Your energy bill will be higher than it should be.
- There will be unnecessary repair costs you have to bear.
Sounds worrisome, right? That is exactly why you must know how to extend the lifespan of your HVAC unit, so it doesn’t give up on you midway, and you don’t have to pay hefty repair bills for it. Once your HVAC unit is installed, you can take multiple steps to keep it safe from internal and external damage that otherwise results in sudden breakdowns.
Not sure how you can extend an HVAC unit’s life? We hear you. Today we’re here with the best HVAC maintenance services you can do to ensure your system is always up and running, with minimum surprises. And the good thing is most of these tips don’t take extra effort or resources.
So, if you want your HVAC system to serve you for a long period (as it should), read on for the best guide that’ll help you extend its lifespan!
Use A Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat is a device that controls the temperature of your HVAC system automatically based on a series of programmed settings that take effect at different times of the day.
And using a programmable thermostat in your home’s heating, ventilation, or air conditioning (HVAC) system is a smart move that can significantly enhance the unit’s lifespan.
So how exactly does this device contribute to longevity? It’s all about automation and efficient operation.
It lets you schedule specific temperature settings for different times of the day and week. For example, when you’re out at work or asleep, you can set the temperature higher (in summer) or lower (in winter) to reduce the load on your HVAC system. Less continuous operation means fewer chances for required HVAC maintenance services.
This thermostat can also minimize abrupt temperature changes, which can be taxing on the system. Instead, it gradually adjusts the temperature to match your settings, ensuring your HVAC system isn’t strained by sudden demands for cooling or heating.
Here are some types of programmable thermostats you can look into:
- A 7-day model that schedules temperature for each day of the week.
- A 5+2-day model that offers the same schedule for weekdays and a different one for weekends. A 5-1-1 model that has the same schedule for weekdays and different schedules for Saturday and Sunday.
You can get a unit that sits well with your routine and use it to keep your HVAC unit running at an optimal capacity.
One bonus point here: while a programmable thermostat helps extend your HVAC unit’s lifespan, it also can decrease your energy bills. Less unit running time equates to lower energy usage and, therefore, a smaller carbon footprint. So, you don’t just save your HVAC unit; you save HVAC maintenance cost as well.
Regular HVAC Maintenance
Regular HVAC services ensure it works well and there’s no gradually growing issue to disrupt it. Skipping routine maintenance can lead to small problems escalating into big issues, eventually causing your HVAC unit to fail prematurely.
Regular HVAC maintenance services include multiple steps performed by certified professionals. They will inspect the system thoroughly, checking for any potential issues that might affect its performance. This includes cleaning or replacing air filters, lubricating moving parts, checking thermostat settings, tightening electrical connections, and inspecting the condensate drain and coils.
Loose electrical connections can cause unsafe operation and reduce the system’s lifespan. HVAC professionals will tighten these connections and measure voltage and current on motors as part of the maintenance process.
Also, the coils in your HVAC unit are crucial to its operation. When dirt and debris build up on the coils, they can’t absorb heat as efficiently, leading to a decline in system performance and lifespan.
Change HVAC Filters
Air filters need attention every few months – if they are dirty or clogged, they obstruct airflow and make your system overwork to maintain the set temperature. This unnecessary strain reduces the lifespan of your HVAC unit, so it’s better to get a timely air conditioning repair service than letting the solution grow.
Depending on the type and usage, filters typically require changing every one to three months. But don’t wait for signs of trouble; make a habit of checking your filters monthly. If you notice they’re dirty or clogged, replace them immediately.
Clean Coils in The HVAC Unit
HVAC units have two essential coils: the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat and humidity from the air inside your home, and the condenser coil, which expels that heat outside. Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate in these coils and impede their ability to transfer heat, thus forcing your HVAC unit to work harder.
Therefore, cleaning the coils is paramount in maintaining your HVAC unit’s efficiency and prolonging its life. Doing so allows the HVAC unit to transfer heat more easily, reducing the strain on the system and enhancing its lifespan.
The cleaning process for the evaporator coil mostly involves using a no-rinse coil cleaner that you can spray directly onto the coil. This cleaner foams up and then drips into the unit’s drain pan, pulling the dirt and dust away from the coil. It’s advisable to clean the evaporator coil once a year.
Similarly, cleaning the condenser coil, located in the outdoor unit, often involves a coil cleaner that needs rinsing off. You can do this using a gentle spray from a hose. Since the condenser coil is exposed to outdoor dirt and debris, it’s usually best to clean it once or twice a year, ideally before and after the cooling season.
Ensure Proper Insulation
Insulation slows the rate at which heat leaves your home in the winter or enters summer. In a well-insulated house, your HVAC unit doesn’t have to work as hard to heat or cool your living space, thereby reducing its workload. A less strained HVAC system means less wear and tear on its components, which directly translates to a longer lifespan for your unit.
The key areas to focus on for insulation are your attic, walls, and floors over unheated spaces, like garages or basements. Additionally, check for drafts around windows and doors, and use weatherstripping or caulking to seal these potential heat leak points.
Also, consider the insulation of your ductwork. If ducts running through unheated spaces aren’t well insulated, you could lose a substantial amount of heated or cooled air before it reaches your rooms.
Keep Vents Open and Unblocked
Your HVAC system works as a balanced, whole-house system. Closing or blocking vents disrupts this balance and makes your HVAC system work harder, potentially reducing its lifespan. Here’s how it works:
HVAC units distribute air evenly throughout your home. When you close or block vents, it creates pressure imbalances in the system. As a result, your HVAC system needs to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.
This added work isn’t good for your system as it can damage the compressor in the case of air conditioners or lead to overheating in the case of furnaces. Both scenarios can increase HVAC maintenance cost or, worse, result in premature failure.
That’s why you must ensure all vents, both supply and return, are open and unobstructed in your HVAC unit. Also, furniture, drapes, or other objects shouldn’t block the vents. Taking care of this aspect will allow for efficient airflow and reduce strain on your HVAC system, which ultimately prolongs its lifespan.
Keep Outdoor Units Clear
Your outdoor HVAC unit houses the condenser coil to release the heat absorbed from your home to the outside. However, the unit requires ample space to disperse the heat effectively. If the area around your outdoor unit is crowded with plants, debris, or other obstructions, it can hinder heat dispersion, causing your HVAC system to work harder than necessary.
A clearance of about two feet around the outdoor unit ensures adequate airflow. Regularly trim any nearby plants and remove debris, such as leaves or grass clippings, that can get sucked into the unit. Doing this reduces strain on the HVAC system so it operates more efficiently, consumes less energy, and stays in good condition.
Keep The HVAC Unit at a Level
The primary reason to keep your HVAC unit level relates to the compressor, the heart of your HVAC system. The compressor houses a motor within a pool of oil that keeps it lubricated during operation. If the unit isn’t level, the oil won’t cover the motor adequately, potentially leading to overheating and premature failure.
An unlevel unit can also result in improper drainage of condensate during the cooling season. If it happens, your HVAC unit and home will both bear the brunt of poor drainage.
Therefore, you should check the level of your HVAC unit periodically, especially after heavy rains or snow that might erode the base. If needed, hire a professional to pinpoint leak detection and adjust the unit’s position to prevent unnecessary strain on the compressor and other components.
Utilize Window Coverings for Consistent Temperature
When sunlight pours in through the windows, it can raise your indoor temperature significantly and cause your air conditioner to work harder. Similarly, during the colder months, windows can allow heat to escape, so your HVAC unit has to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature.
And since both these cases are not good, you should prefer keeping the windows covered when your HVAC system is on. Blinds, shades, or curtains can effectively control the sunlight entering your home and the heat escaping from it.
This simple practice reduces the load on your HVAC system and lowers its energy consumption, and prevents unnecessary wear and tear on the unit. The result is a longer lifespan for your HVAC system – exactly what a smart homeowner should aim for.
Clean Air Ducts
When your HVAC unit’s ducts are clean, air flows freely and easily reaches all parts of your home. Similarly, when they are clogged with dirt and debris, your HVAC system must work harder to push air through. This situation can reduce your HVAC unit’s efficiency and make you pay higher energy and HVAC maintenance bills.
Expert HVAC professionals recommend having your air ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years or more frequently if you have pets, smoke indoors, or have family members with allergies or asthma.
Maintaining the Drain Line
The drain line, also known as the condensate line, allows the moisture collected in the HVAC system during the cooling process to exit the system. Over time, this line can become clogged with dirt, mold, and other types of debris, causing water to back up into your HVAC system.
If left unaddressed, this water can cause significant damage, including rust, electrical issues, and even complete system failure. Additionally, a clogged drain line can lead to water leaks, causing damage to your home.
Maintaining your drain line means checking it for clogs and cleaning it as necessary. A simple way to do this is by pouring a cup of white vinegar into the line every few months to kill bacteria and fungus. If you notice any signs of a serious clog, such as water pooling around your unit, it’s best to call a professional.
Avoid Overworking the HVAC System
An overworked HVAC system runs continuously without adequate rest, often struggling to maintain the set temperature. This excessive strain can cause parts to wear out faster and can lead to unnecessary and costly repairs.
To avoid overworking your HVAC system, keep your thermostat settings as moderate as possible. Extreme temperature settings can make your system work harder and wear out faster. Consider using ceiling fans or portable heaters to maintain comfort levels without putting extra strain on your HVAC unit.
It’s also good to avoid running major appliances that generate heat, like the oven or dryer, during the hottest part of the day in the summer. This tip can prevent your HVAC unit from having to work extra hard to combat the additional heat.
Final Word on Increasing Your HVAC Unit’s Lifespan
Caring for your HVAC system isn’t complex if you know hacks like maintaining the drain line, avoiding overwork of the system, ensuring proper insulation, and keeping the units clear and level.
And don’t forget that while you can perform many of these tasks, an expert touch ensures optimal performance and longevity of your system. If you want to keep your HVAC system at its peak and save HVAC maintenance cost in the long run, schedule regular professional HVAC maintenance services.
Your HVAC system keeps you comfortable, so investing in its well-being is investing in your peace of mind!
How often should I schedule professional maintenance for my HVAC system?
Experts recommend scheduling professional maintenance for your HVAC system at least once a year, ideally in the spring for air conditioning systems and in the fall for heating systems. Regular maintenance can help catch potential issues early and extend the lifespan of your system.
Does changing the HVAC filter regularly really extend the system’s lifespan?
Yes, a clean filter improves air quality, promotes better airflow, reduces strain on the system, and can significantly extend the lifespan of your HVAC unit.
Is it bad to constantly adjust my thermostat settings?
Frequently adjusting your thermostat settings can cause your HVAC system to work harder and potentially shorten its lifespan.
Does insulation really impact my HVAC system’s lifespan?
Proper insulation slows the heat transfer rate between your home and the outdoors, reducing the work your HVAC system needs to do to maintain comfortable temperatures. This reduction in workload can extend your HVAC system’s lifespan.