Preventive maintenance is essential to keeping your home safe and comfortable. By understanding which HVAC problems require technical expertise, you improve your HVAC system’s performance and prolong its lifespan. Find out how to identify and address these problems before it’s too late.
Based on a U.S. Department of Energy report, 70% of residential HVAC systems do not perform optimally. The report also revealed that most homeowners aren’t aware of the problem. There is a tendency to take a reactive approach to this robust machine, with homeowners choosing to do something only when the problem is no longer avoidable.
The average lifespan of an HVAC system is 15 to 20 years. But this is only achievable with proper care and maintenance. Homeowners can deal with basic HVAC care and maintenance tasks, but many require technical expertise. Meddling with issues that need professional handling will result in mistakes that may cause more significant problems in the long run.
Common HVAC Problems and How to Solve Them
Your HVAC system requires regular care and maintenance. These tasks range from the most simple, such as dusting and cleaning, to the most complex, like system inspection for mechanical degradation. Find out the common problems in HVAC systems and learn which ones can be done on your own and which ones are best left to the professionals.
The U.S. Department of Energy lists this as one of the most common problems with residential HVAC systems. Most of the time, homeowners notice that their house isn’t heating up or it’s not getting colder. It is usually caused by an open window or door somewhere in the house, letting the cold in or the heat out. This forces your HVAC system to work harder and consume more energy, resulting in higher electricity bills.
Do It Yourself: If you’re wondering how to lower your electric bill in the summer or winter, consider looking around your home to identify areas with uneven room temperature. Check windows and doors for any air leaks. Additionally, determine if it’s a simple matter of closing them entirely or fixing their weather strips.
Your A/C unit’s filters prevent dust, pet fur and dander, and other pollutants from damaging the unit and compromising your home’s air quality. However, frequent use of the machine will accumulate large amounts of this debris in a short period. It’s the same thing for heaters. Common furnace issues, such as the heater not working, also arise because of clogged filters.
Do It Yourself: Once you notice a change in your indoor air quality or poor performance in any of the units, it might be time to replace the filters of your A/C unit and furnace. You may also take the proactive approach and replace the filters every two weeks, depending on which unit is currently the most used.
The outdoor component of your HVAC system is designed to withstand the elements. However, this doesn’t mean it’s completely safe from nature and wild animals. A common cause of A/C or furnace problems is the debris accumulated outside. When leaves, dirt, and small animal droppings enter and build-up in your HVAC system, its drainage becomes clogged, reducing airflow.
Do It Yourself: Fix this problem by cleaning the unit regularly. Start by clearing out the area directly surrounding the HVAC system outside. Make sure to trim any branches that hang over the unit, to prevent leaves from falling on it. Then, remove the debris from the fan cage and sweep around the unit. Consider doing this twice a week to avoid mechanical problems in the future.
When the heating doesn’t turn off, or the furnace control board doesn’t have lights on, there might be something wrong with your thermostat. Programmable thermostats may malfunction because of electrical problems caused by a tripped breaker or a blown fuse. If fixing either of these don’t work, an electrical surge might have damaged the thermostat’s operation system.
Call the Pros: Thermostat malfunctions can be caused by broken internal parts, a problem that requires special tools and technical skills. Choosing to do this on your own might result in mistakes that will cost you more in repairs than if you simply called a professional.
A sudden and weird noise from your HVAC system is sure to put you on edge. Although it’s not uncommon for this machine to make noises, grinding or clanging sounds are often signs of internal problems such as loose pieces. On the other hand, whining or squealing sounds are signs of motor problems.
Call the Pros: A technician can determine the exact cause of the weird noises, streamlining the repair process. In minor cases, they will simply tighten bolts and replace screws. However, a damaged motor will require replacement to prevent it from compromising the rest of the unit.
The condensate air that conditioners and furnaces produce is rarely a problem because of the drain pipes installed in the HVAC system. However, the pipes can get clogged and cause leaks. Most homeowners would address this problem by pouring bleach down the pipes. Continuous leakage is a sign of a bigger problem.
Call the Pros: Persistent leakage from the HVAC system might be due to several factors, such as a broken evaporator drain pan, a malfunctioning heat exchanger, or a damaged collector box. A technician can correctly identify the leak’s source and carry out the necessary repairs.
When your HVAC system is struggling to turn on, it is often because of ignition problems. This is typical for units that use a thermocouple. Failure to determine the exact cause of the problem will affect the unit’s performance, resulting in uncomfortable temperatures in your home.
Call the Pros: Some of the causes of ignition problems include gas supply issues and component degradation. Since these elements are considered dangerous, it’s better to leave them to the professionals.
Mechanical Wear and Tear
The problems you face with your HVAC system don’t always have a sinister cause. Sometimes, the unit starts malfunctioning because of normal wear caused by age and use. When this mechanical wear and tear is left unaddressed, it can lead to worse problems such as overheating and airflow issues.
Call the Pros: A technician will carry out a comprehensive inspection of your HVAC system to identify the parts that need to be repaired or replaced. They can also determine the current state of belts and oiling bearings, determining when they will need to be replaced.
A common cause of most HVAC problems is the lack of care and maintenance. Although your system isn’t a delicate machine, it still requires regular upkeep. In addition to ensuring the cleanliness of the system’s internal and external components, homeowners are advised to schedule an annual professional inspection.
Call the Pros: Working with a professional service company is essential to your HVAC system’s performance and lifespan. Continuing to take the reactive approach might result in the complete replacement of your unit.
The Importance of Working with the Pros
There is a misconception that professional services should only be hired when the situation is dire. However, this often results in higher costs because the problem might have worsened at that point, and more work needs to be done. If you’re still on the fence about this, consider the following reasons to hire professionals from the onset.
They get it right the first time.
Technicians have the training and experience to identify the cause of a problem efficiently. Knowing the problem right away allows them to determine the right course of action, streamlining the process and potentially helping you save more money in the long run.
They have the right tools and equipment.
Even DIY enthusiasts who have collected toolboxes don’t have the specialized tools and equipment technicians have. These include industrial-strength cleaners, high-powered vacuum cleaners, and other items that can’t be bought from a retail hardware store.
They have insurance.
When you take on the more complicated problems concerning your HVAC system, you risk making a mistake that may lead to an accident or injury. Although this is still possible with trained technicians, they have the coverage to manage the expenses.
They save you the trouble.
Hiring a technician for preventive maintenance saves you time and money in the long term. When your HVAC system suddenly breaks down, you have to immediately look for a replacement. Having someone who regularly checks the unit helps you avoid this situation because they’ll be able to address problems immediately, saving you the trouble of experiencing its consequences.
It is impractical to insist that professional services are only required for emergency situations, especially with complex machines like HVAC systems. Something as simple as your furnace fan not working on automatic mode might indicate problems with the control system.
Manufacturers advise owners that annual inspections and maintenance services are essential to the peak performance of HVACs. Your HVAC system’s maintenance is a year-round affair. When you have a professional services team, you can immediately call them to see what’s wrong with your HVAC.
If you’re wondering why your system isn’t working well and need HVAC services, drop us a line! Our team is ready to answer any of your questions.