The simple answer is yes. A better question is, what happens if I don’t? How often and what should be done? The biggest follow up question is how much it costs and who should do it?
Every air conditioning and heating system needs maintenance to keep it running at full efficiency all year long. Something many other HVAC contractors won’t tell you when they sell you a new air conditioning and heating system is that you will lose your warranty if you do not have maintenance performed by a professional on the system regularly. In the fine print of every air conditioning and heating manufacturer’s owner’s manual, it will say maintenance is required to keep the system under warranty. Manufacturers can ask for proof of regular maintenance if you try to file a warranty claim. Getting it done is going to save you a lot more money, and headaches, than running your system into the ground. Most, if not all, breakdowns will have early warning signs that can prevent costly repairs if caught in time.
Something simple like replacing your air filter should be done according to the amount of use your system sees. If your system is running every day, all year long, your filters may need to be replaced as often as every 60 days. From there, you can plan out if you need to change out the air filters more often, like every month or every quarter or every six months. Since filter racks are usually instead near the furnace most homeowners can handle filter replacements if the unit is in the closet or the garage. If your furnace is in the attic, it might be on the ceiling grill in the hallway. If you have an electric air cleaner, it is best to have a professional HVAC company service the unit at least once a year.
The cost for “HVAC Maintenance” or “Tune-Up” or “Safety Check” per system from a professional company is usually around $75 to $250. Stay clear of any company charging less than that. In the HVAC industry, it’s a tool by many companies to get into the home to sell you more services. You can save money by signing up for a maintenance agreement but only do so if you feel the original service was a good experience.
What should be included in your home HVAC maintenance by a professional? This depends on the season, the type of equipment your home has and what you’re paying for. But in the Spring, you should focus on your air conditioning system and in the fall your heating system. Both heating and air conditioning systems usually work together to get your home comfortable but service them as the seasons come near.
If your home has a gas furnace and it’s near the time to use it, your local HVAC company should check for gas leaks near and in the furnace.
- Check for debris around the vent pipe to ensure nothing can combust in flames when the heater is on.
- Check the burner when the system to see if the gas is compositing properly.
- Check the blower wheel for dust that can build up on the wheel that can slow down your air velocity.
- Check the ductwork for large air leaks in the attic.
- Check for any lose or burn wires in the furnace.
- Check the control board for any error codes.
These are the basics that every HVAC contractor should check when serving a system, but there can be more done. Like checking the gas pressure to the burners, check combustion inside they system with the right tools, inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, check temperature rises between air going in and out. Usually, if they are testing these things without having cause, they are looking for something to fix more than doing it because it’s the right thing to do. These last things listed can be subjective and interpreted as cause to replace your furnace. If they find something wrong and say you need a new furnace to tell them, you need a second option.
Your local Gas Utility Company will usually come to your home for free to make sure the furnace is safe for use; the only dilemma is sometimes it can be a two to three weeks long wait to come out.
When servicing you your air conditioning system before summer your HVAC company should wash the condensing coil with water only or the right chemical solution. Having a technician that doesn’t know what he’s doing can destroy your unit and is more common now with all aluminum condensing coils. He should also check for burn marks on the electrical components inside and outside the unit, check for basic refrigerant leaks, check the ductwork for air leaks, check for any loose wires inside the unit, check that amps on the motors are running correctly. Often most inexperienced technicians will check the pressures of your unit. This should only be done if there are issues with performance, and there are plenty of ways to see if your system has the right level of refrigerant without hooking up gages to it. The problem with hooking up gauges (the tool to check pressures inside your air conditioner) is that HVAC technicians are touching dirty and damaged air conditioners all day long. This opens up the possibility contaminate your system on accident, and all you wanted was maintenance. Change the filter is most as well.
When getting your air conditioning or heater maintained, ask a question to the person you are thinking of hiring. Like, how long will it take? Is the technician you are sending experienced? How long have you been in business? Will there be any other charges than the one you are quoting over the phone? It is also a good idea to look at their reviews; it can say a lot about a company. Bad reviews tell you the culture of the company, and a company that has less than ten reviews means that they are not giving service above expectations.