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Why HVAC Maintenance is Important

Air quality testing

You make a big investment in your HVAC system, likely thousands of dollars between all of the equipment you own, including your furnace, air conditioner, air purifier, humidifier, and more. So, why do so few people complete all of the maintenance that their HVAC equipment needs? It might be because few people understand why HVAC maintenance is so important.

If you want your home to be comfortable, healthy, and refreshing, keeping your HVAC equipment maintained and running smoothly is important. Plus, putting small amounts of money into your equipment for upfront maintenance, will result in you spending less money in the long run on utility costs, repairs and replacement costs. Here’s a detailed look at why HVAC maintenance is important for you, and how you can get the maintenance that your HVAC equipment needs.

Health and Air Quality

Your air quality, and therefore your health, are both significantly impacted by your HVAC maintenance. How do your HVAC systems affect your air quality? Full furnace and air conditioner filters can add dirt, debris, allergens, and other particles to your home’s air. Some filters become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria unless they are regularly changed when they should be according to your equipment’s maintenance cycle.

You may rely on an air purifier or air filter as part of your HVAC system to remove debris from the air. They can be very effective at removing pet dander, outdoor allergens, bacteria, viruses, gases, smells, VOCs, mould and mould spores. However, they absolutely need to be cleaned on a regular basis or they will stop trapping this debris. In fact, the carbon cartridges in some air filters need to be replaced outright, as the carbon can only absorb so much.

Poorly maintained HVAC equipment may also affect your air quality by leaking. Extra moisture or humidity from your equipment can create ideal breeding grounds for mould and fungus. These can create musty smells in your home, or they can irritate your lungs, eyes, and skin. Keeping moisture under control is essential to prevent these problems.

Also, when was the last time you had your air ducts cleaned? These vents collect dust, debris, and allergens too. They may spread the debris from one area of the home through to the others, which can significantly impact the air quality throughout your home.

Symptoms of Poor Air Quality in the Home 

How do you know that your HVAC maintenance is getting in the way of good air quality in your home? Here are the symptoms of poor air quality to look out for:

  • Musty smells or damp feelings in the house and near the equipment
  • Lingering smells from the kitchen, bathroom, or other spaces
  • Smells when you walk in the door
  • Increasing levels of dust or dirt in the home

You may also suffer health symptoms from poor air quality. Some conditions may make you especially vulnerable to debris and allergens in the air. These symptoms include:

  • Increase in allergy or asthma symptoms
  • Increase in respiratory or skin condition symptoms
  • Dry throat, nose, eyes, and skin
  • Skin irritation
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sneezing, coughing or wheezing
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Forgetfulness or irritability

If you are suffering symptoms that you think are from poor air quality, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. HVAC maintenance may help alleviate the issues, but you could be suffering from another health condition that also needs to be addressed.

Professional Indoor Air Quality Testing

Sometimes the symptoms of poor air quality aren’t telling enough. You may want to know more specifics about what is causing your home’s air quality problems, or what you can do other than better maintain your HVAC equipment to fix it. That’s where professional testing comes in.

Comfort in Your Home 

Properly maintaining your equipment is also a matter of being comfortable in your home. After all, your HVAC equipment is all about moderating the temperature of your home to be comfortable and cool in the summer, and cozy in the winter. For this reason, air duct maintenance is especially important if you have a forced-air system for heating and cooling. Your air ducts distribute cold and hot air through your home, but they do a worse job when they are clogged or full of debris. Cleaning them will help you avoid hot and cold spots in the home because they will better be able to direct your heated or cooled air where it should be. That said, the National Association of Air Duct Cleaners recommends cleaning your air ducts every 3-5 years.

When your HVAC equipment is better maintained, you will also get the best performance out of them as possible. This is especially important on the days where your equipment needs to perform at its best; on the hottest and coldest days of the year. Your furnace or air conditioner may need to run constantly on these days to keep your home comfortable. Poorly performing equipment may not be able to keep up with demand.

Safety 

Very poorly maintained equipment will perform poorly and eventually may become a serious safety hazard. For example, cracks in heat exchangers or total failure of furnace heat exchangers can release carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very serious health risk. While you should have carbon monoxide alarms, it’s better to not have to deal with this problem at all.

Severely malfunctioning HVAC equipment may also become a fire risk, whether it’s because the moisture from the equipment is landing on its electrical components, or whether the filters are so clogged that they could spark a fire.

How Maintaining Your Equipment Saves Money

Properly maintaining your HVAC equipment will also save you money. Even though your maintenance plan and appointments may cost you money, depending on the plan you have with your HVAC technician, it will still save you in the long run.

Avoiding Major Repairs and Breakdowns

The better maintained your equipment is, the less likely it is to need major repairs or suffer from complete breakdowns. Minor maintenance is quick and smooth, but when left unchecked small issues can quickly transform into large, expensive issues. For example, if there’s a loose part, your HVAC technician can secure it during your regular maintenance visit. If left unchecked, then it may rub against another part, and both will need replacement down the road. Major repairs like this are more expensive.

Regular maintenance may also be required under the terms and conditions of one or more of your warranties on your machines. So, if you keep your air conditioner up to date on work, but it still has a major break, the warranty coverage will help you save money on their major repair.

Major repairs don’t just waste your money, they also waste your time. In fact, if it is the dead of winter or peak of summer, a complete breakdown in your HVAC equipment can be life-threatening for some people. The elderly may suffer serious consequences if they do not have air conditioning, for example.

While some think that these major failures are unlikely, it’s simply not the case. HVAC appliances usually fail when they are being used the most because the additional demand stresses an already compromised system. Overall, reactive maintenance is more expensive, and preventative maintenance is cheaper and safer.

Electricity Cost Per Year

You should also consider that well-maintained equipment is more efficient and uses less energy, which keeps your utility costs down. Poorly maintained equipment may need to work 20% harder to create the same heat, or cool, then a properly maintained system. That can be a substantial cost on your utility bill.

Costs to Replace a HVAC System  

The last cost that you can prevent by maintaining your HVAC equipment is the cost of early replacement. Of course, equipment that is well maintained should reach the full lifespan promised by the manufacturer, and often even longer. Equipment that is left to breakdown may need to be replaced years before it should.

Maintaining Your HVAC Equipment

What is involved in maintaining each part of your HVAC system?

The Importance of Furnace Maintenance

Your furnace should be maintained every year, ideally in the fall before you begin to use it. Your HVAC technician will change the filter, clean the internal parts, check its performance, and perform any repairs that are necessary.

The Importance of Air Conditioner Maintenance

Air conditioner maintenance is very similar, in that the technician will change the filter, clean the internal parts, and check the air conditioner’s performance before performing any repairs. However, air conditioner maintenance should be performed in the spring, before the air conditioner is turned on for the summer.

Gas Fireplace Inspection and Repair 

If you use a gas fireplace, whether or not it is your only heat source, maintaining it is also very important. The process of cleaning and maintaining the fireplace is a bit more involved than most, and there are more safety risks with gas fireplaces than other heating equipment, so it’s best to get a professional to do this.

Regularly maintaining your HVAC equipment will help keep your family comfortable all year round and help you save money. To schedule a maintenance call or learn about our maintenance plans contact us today.