What do you know about your Heating and Air System?

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in your home should be like a close friend or relative and the more you know about it and care for it the more it will return the favor. You probably know the birthdays of all of your relatives, or at least have them written down somewhere, but your home’s heating and air systems probably aren’t on that list.

It’s unfortunate that most homeowners seldom give their home HVAC systems any thought as long as they are doing their job, but it will pay you to know some of the basic information. How old the system is, its birthday so to speak can help you determine if it may soon be time to consider replacing it. Most furnaces can be expected to last 25 or 30 years, with proper maintenance, and when they start to fail more often than they work, it may be time to find a replacement.

However, you can extend the life of your heating and air conditioning systems with some preventive maintenance. If you have no desire to get your hands on your system, consider contacting an HVAC contractor about an annual maintenance contract. The cost may vary depending on the type of furnace and the type of contract, but will ensure your system is kept at peak performance. Maintaining the system to run efficiently can save a lot of money on your energy bill as well as provide the benefit of a longer life.

Changing the filters in a forced air system is the number one preventive maintenance task that can be performed by homeowners. The type of filters you use will be determined by your reaction to dust in the air, but a majority of people will use inexpensive fiberglass filters while others will opt for filters that collect smaller particles. You should also dust off the fan blades. Even with top quality filters, dust will accumulate on the blades and could slow down the unit’s efficiency.

Checking the lubrication of fan motors and blowers will help keep the unit running smooth and quiet and reduce wear on the bearings. Many of the newer models have enclosed bearings and do not require lubrication, but you will need to know the age and model of your unit to know if it’s a necessary procedure or not.

At least once a year you need to check all of the outside vents to ensure they aren’t blocked. Leaves and other debris can accumulate around the vents and block air movement. This can lead to a hazardous build-up of exhaust gases, specifically deadly carbon monoxide. While you’re looking inside the furnace you can also check for leaks and cracks in the heat exchange unit to spot any leaks that could be a danger.

Checking the proper operation of your thermostat as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should also be performed at least once each year, preferably every six months, to ensure they are in working order. To save on energy, you might consider swapping out that old thermostat with a new programmable model. Some of the newer models will also remind you when it’s time to change your heating and air conditioning unit’s filters.

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