HVAC maintenance is the servicing of a heating or cooling system to thwart the potential for future problems and unnecessary cost. Maintenance may help keep systems operating at peak performance levels, so annual checkups before heating and cooling seasons are important.
If you are in an HVAC and refrigeration training program, HVAC maintenance may be an especially relevant subject to you because it can be one of the top responsibilities of technicians.
So, what is HVAC preventative maintenance and why is it so important? You’ll find an introduction to this essential HVAC service below.
What Happens During HVAC Maintenance?
HVAC maintenance may vary depending on the system. For example, furnace maintenance can differ based on how old the system is and the type of equipment.
A typical HVAC maintenance visit as a technician may involve the following:
- Checking the customer’s thermostat for the proper operation and settings.
- Adding lubrication to moving system parts to thwart problems with excess friction and energy consumption.
- Tightening electrical wiring and connections and measuring electrical voltage of motors in the system.
- Checking all system controls to ensure the equipment starts up, runs and then shuts off as it should.
- Examining the condensation drain for clogs that could potentially lead to water damage in a customer’s home or property.
While you may check the air filter of the HVAC system during a maintenance visit, cleaning or replacing the air filter monthly is something most property owners can do on their own. It can be helpful to show customers where their filter is located and how to change it.
Air Conditioning Maintenance Tasks
Cooling systems may need specific types of maintenance during an HVAC service call. For example, an HVAC technician may check the refrigerant levels in a central A/C unit and add refrigerant as needed. Cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils and the blower components is also usually necessary.
Heating Maintenance Tasks
Depending on the type of heating system, you may need to check gas or oil connections and for proper gas pressure. Checking the heat exchanger for cracks and the burner for dust or debris can be an important part of HVAC maintenance for heating systems, as well.
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How Often Should You Perform HVAC Maintenance?
Clients may pose the question: How often should you have HVAC maintenance?
Part of your role as an HVAC professional can be to answer such questions and make recommendations about maintenance.
In general, it is recommended to have the air conditioning and heating systems serviced annually. It’s a good practice to have the A/C unit serviced in the spring just before the cooling season and the heating system serviced in the fall before the winter heating season.
Why Is HVAC Maintenance Important?
HVAC maintenance is essential for several reasons. In the case of an air conditioner, regular maintenance of coils, fins and filters allows the unit to function efficiently.
If the necessary maintenance is neglected, it can lead to a steady decline in the overall performance of the system and an increase in energy consumption. Something as simple as changing a clogged or dirty air filter can potentially reduce energy usage by as much as 15%.
With a heating system that relies on gas or oil, regular maintenance can mean safer operation and possibly avoiding a fire hazard. One of the most common causes of carbon monoxide infiltration in the home is a cracked, damaged or failed heat exchanger.
A few other reasons HVAC maintenance is important include:
- Property owners can save money on energy costs, costly breakdowns and untimely system replacements.
- HVAC system maintenance may help a customer maintain warranty coverage with a new system.
- System maintenance can promote healthier indoor air quality.
- Well-maintained systems may be easier on the environment due to lower energy consumption.
- Systems that are well maintained can do a better job of keeping people comfortable.
Special HVAC Maintenance Considerations
Some property owners may have special considerations to take into account with HVAC maintenance. Especially those with pets in the house. For example, filters may have to be cleaned or changed more frequently due to fur and dander being circulated through the system.
Another HVAC maintenance consideration for clients with pets is keeping system components tucked away, such as electrical wires. A curious dog or cat may chew on anything exposed, so these areas should be inspected carefully during an HVAC maintenance call.