Has it been a year or more since you’ve given your heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system some attention? If so, now is the time for you to give it a tune-up. Seasonal maintenance, ideally twice per year, in fall and again in spring, can help keep your system ready for the extra heavy use you will expect from it.
Routine maintenance can also benefit you on a cold winter’s night. When it’s regularly serviced, your HVAC system can be less likely to break down unexpectedly. And unfortunately, a sudden system failure can often lead to an expensive repair bill that often can be in the many thousands.*
Service technicians also recommend scheduling regular professional tune-ups because they can inspect a system’s vital components for wear and tear, and replace parts as needed. Other important items a technician checks include refrigerant leaks, rusty condenser coils, and more. It’s impossible to predict when a problem with your HVAC system will strike. But maintenance (and a home warranty plan that includes HVAC coverage) can help you sleep better every night.
Do you still need convincing that maintenance matters? Regular service of HVAC systems also can have a positive impact on your utility bill. That is, when your system gets even some basic, scheduled maintenance year to year, it won’t need to work as hard, which means it uses less energy to run. And less energy use can translate to lower energy bills.
Reducing energy bills lets you keep more money in your pocket, and using less energy can help the environment in the process! Who doesn't want both those things?
What Attention Does Your HVAC System Need?
Here are the basic fall maintenance tasks your HVAC system needs in order to perform effectively this winter. Let’s first start with the steps you can take as a homeowner:
DIY Maintenance You Can Do
Change the air filter. A clogged or dirty air filter makes an HVAC system work harder, which can lead to a breakdown, and potentially, a costly repair. Never changed the air filter before? Here's a handy guide to changing air filters. Regularly changing air filters also helps keep the air in your home healthier. A dirty air filter lets dust and other potentially harmful airborne contaminants circulate freely.
Clear debris around the condenser unit. Regularly rake away leaves and other debris, or use a leaf blower to clear the area around and behind the unit. If you live in colder climes, where you won't use the air conditioner in fall and winter, invest in a good cover for the unit.
Clean the vent covers. To reach ceiling vent covers, use your vacuum's brush attachment to get any dust buildup. It's also a good idea to get up on a chair a few times a year to wash vent covers with a damp cloth. The same general cleaning applies for wall and floor vents.
Maintenance a Service Technician Can Do
Service checklists can vary between different companies, but here are some of the typical maintenance tasks you can expect a pro to perform during an HVAC service visit:
Run a diagnostic test. Typical inspections during an initial diagnostic include inspecting (and cleaning) the blower components, inspecting the blower motor, water pump, thermostat, and heater control valve. Never heard of these components? Brush up on parts of an HVAC system here. It can be helpful when you need to discuss any issues your technician may find during a service visit.
Clean the condenser coils. As part of a service visit, most technicians will clean the evaporator and condenser coils. Cleaning the coils helps air to flow more freely, so the system does not have to work as hard.
Check refrigerant levels. Most HVAC tune-ups will include a check of the refrigerant level. The technician can either top off the coolant, or replace the refrigerant if a leak is detected during the diagnostic test. A proper refrigerant level also helps your system run efficiently.
Home Warranty Coverage for Your HVAC System
Even with regular maintenance, your heating system may one day stop working. A First American home warranty plan with HVAC coverage for your home's system can help protect you from unexpected expenses. When an HVAC problem crops up, or you have a breakdown with any other covered item, you can simply call us, or log in to your Homeowner Account, to request service.
Don’t have a home warranty? If you’re a home buyer or seller, ask your REALTOR® to help you choose the best coverage for your needs. If you’re not involved in a real estate transaction, get a quote here, or call our Consumer Sales department at 888.875.0533.
More HVAC Resources for Homeowners
- How Does AC Work?
- Heating and Air Conditioning Glossary
- Spring Maintenance for Your Air Conditioner
- First American Big HVAC Home Warranty Coverage
*Based on actual invoices paid by First American Home Warranty in 2021 prior to service fees, deductions, and/or rebates; costs may vary in your geographic region. Items listed may be optional or not available on some plans; please review the sample contract for specific coverage, terms, and limitations.