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19 Jul 2023

Author: Jeff O'Hara

When it comes to ensuring the year-round comfort and cleanliness of the air in your home, there is no more critical task than regular preventative HVAC maintenance. We ask so much of our HVAC systems, particularly in southeast Texas, with our 100-degree summer days and the 90% humidity that often accompanies it. And let’s not forget about our recent winter experiences in Houston, where subfreezing temperatures and piercing wind chills take over for a few days, putting our furnaces to the ultimate test.

When your HVAC system needs to battle against our extreme and unpredictable weather, it needs to be in top condition to provide peak performance and efficiency. 

Nick’s Air Conditioning offers a comprehensive 32-point checklist for your air conditioning system and a 20-point checklist for your furnace and heating components. 

Why is HVAC Maintenance Necessary? 

Regular HVAC maintenance is essential to keep up optimal system performance, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, safety, and cost savings. Your HVAC system is a complex combination of components, all subject to damage from regular use, and must be monitored regularly. Annual maintenance service calls give your HVAC technician a chance to take a detailed look at your system, making early detection of potential problems possible. 

HVAC system manufacturers usually require proof that a licensed HVAC company has performed regular maintenance on schedule if any warranty issues arise. Evidence that the HVAC system has been properly taken care of is necessary for warranty coverages to apply in your case. 

How Often Should an HVAC System Be Maintained? 

It’s recommended to schedule a twice-yearly HVAC maintenance call—one during the Spring season and one during the fall—but most of our customers prefer to have these services performed annually. Annual HVAC maintenance service and check-ups are usually sufficient to satisfy the requirements of an HVAC system manufacturer’s warranty. We’ll discuss why that’s important in a moment. 

What Are the Benefits of HVAC Maintenance? 

More Efficient Operation

Having your HVAC system on a regular maintenance schedule helps ensure that it operates at peak performance and efficiency. Cleaning and servicing the various components, such as changing air filters, cleaning condenser coils, and lubricating the blower motor, will help improve airflow, reduce energy consumption, and optimize the system’s overall performance. An efficiently running HVAC system, and post-maintenance service call, can save you as much as 30% on your AC-related energy costs. 

Extended Lifespan

Regular maintenance calls will extend the lifespan of your HVAC system. By addressing minor issues and, thus, preventing future catastrophic breakdowns, you can avoid premature system failures. Regular inspections and tune-ups allow your HVAC technician to identify and correct potential problems before they can escalate, maximizing the longevity of your HVAC equipment. 

Improved Indoor Air Quality

HVAC maintenance is critical in maintaining healthy indoor air quality. Clean air filters capture dirt, dust, pollen, smoke, and other airborne particles that can be considered irritants and prevent them from circulating in the home. Regular cleaning of coils, heat exchangers, and other components removes mold, mildew, and other bacteria and contaminants, ensuring cleaner and healthier indoor air for your family. 

Safety Concerns

Neglected HVAC systems pose several safety risks. For example, gas furnaces that are not properly maintained may develop issues like cracked heat exchangers, leading to carbon monoxide gas leaks. Old, corroding gas fixtures are susceptible to cracking under the gas’s internal pressure; once the pipe is breached, you have a dangerous natural gas leak. Regular inspections and maintenance can help identify and address possible safety hazards, allowing for a more secure living environment. 

Cost Savings

Investing in annual maintenance now can save you money in the long run. You can avoid costly HVAC repairs or premature system replacements by preventing major breakdowns and addressing minor issues early on.

Warranty Compliance

As mentioned earlier, most HVAC equipment manufacturers want proof that your system was maintained regularly. Provide at least annual maintenance to your newer system to avoid the manufacturer rejecting your claim, in part or as a whole. Neglecting maintenance will void your warranty, leaving you responsible for the cost of repairs or replacements that would otherwise have been covered. 

Overall Performance

Another significant benefit to HVAC system maintenance is that it can reduce your electricity and gas usage by as much as 30%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By changing out the air filters in your HVAC system, cleaning dust out of your ductwork and vents, and having the right amount of freon, you can start seeing improvements in your energy bills in the next billing cycle.

What Happens to HVAC Systems Without Maintenance? 

HVAC systems that do not benefit from regular maintenance—or any maintenance—will experience various issues and consequences that will negatively impact their performance, efficiency, and lifespan.

Reduced Efficiency

Over time, dirt, dust, and other debris can accumulate on the components of your HVAC system, such as in the filters, in the blower motor, sticking to the heat exchanger, and in the outdoor condenser coil. This buildup of gunk restricts airflow and hampers the system’s ability to achieve and maintain the desired temperature in the home. This causes your system to work harder and for longer operational cycles as the HVAC system struggles to compensate for the reduced airflow

Frequent Breakdowns

Neglected HVAC systems are more prone to frequent breakdowns and malfunctions. Minor issues can be noticed with regular maintenance and inspections and escalate into significant repair issues. Usually, these major repair issues will make themselves known on the hottest, most humid day of the summer, right when you need it most. 

Reduced Lifespan

Lack of maintenance can significantly reduce the lifespan of an HVAC system. The accumulation of dirt, improper lubrication, worn-out components, or other unaddressed issues can lead to excessive strain on the system. Routine maintenance helps identify and address problems before components suffer from premature wear and before their failure can cause irreparable damage to your HVAC system. 

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Unmaintained HVAC systems can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Dirty air filters can’t effectively remove dust, dirt, allergens, and other contaminants from the air. In addition to creating a situation where more dust is floating around the living space, so too are various allergens that can lead to respiratory issues and general discomfort for everyone in the house. 

Can a Homeowner Perform Their Own HVAC Maintenance? 

Aside from changing the air filters, and keeping outlet and intake vents clear of dust, debris, or complete blockages, HVAC maintenance work should be performed by licensed and experienced HVAC technicians. 

What Goes into a Proper HVAC Maintenance Service? 

  • Air filters will be inspected and replaced where needed.
  • Components like evaporator and condenser coils and fan blades, blower motor, and condensate drain lines are cleaned.
  • Fan motors, compressors, and other moving parts are lubricated to reduce friction and wear, minimizing strain on the system.
  • Your technician will inspect all exposed electrical connections, wiring, and controls of the HVAC system. They will check for loose connections, signs of excessive wear, or any potential electrical issue impacting system performance or safety. 
  • The HVAC technician will verify the thermostat’s accuracy and calibrate where necessary. Proper thermostat calibration is crucial for accurate temperature control and efficient operation. 
  • For air conditioners and mini-split heat pumps, the technician will check the refrigerant level and ensure it is within the manufacturer’s recommended range. Incorrect refrigerant levels—both too low and too high—can create issues that negatively affect cooling performance. 
  • A safety inspection will identify hazards like gas leaks, carbon monoxide leaks, or other safety concerns. This will ensure that the system operates safely and meets all current safety standards. 
  • Finally, the technician will assess the overall performance of the HVAC system, including temperature differentials, airflow measurements, and observe how the system operates. 
  • It’s not only about your air conditioner. Your furnace requires regular maintenance as well. With the subtropical climate of Houston, TX, it can slip our minds that we even have a furnace, let alone knowing it needs regular maintenance. Nick’s Air Conditioning’s HVAC maintenance service includes a thorough inspection of your furnace along with its related components. Heat exchangers are checked for cracks that can lead to carbon monoxide leaks, the blower motor and its fan are cleaned, and all electrical connections are checked by eye and with a meter.

Overall, HVAC maintenance is a proactive investment that saves you money in the long run and ensures optimal performance, maximum energy efficiency, and comfort in your home for your family. It’s a smart choice that pays off handsomely in improved system longevity, reduced energy costs, and a healthier indoor environment. 

Show Your HVAC System Some Love with a Maintenance Service from Nick’s! 

Let your home’s heating and air conditioning systems know how much they’re appreciated by treating them to a “day at the spa” with Nick’s Air Conditioning HVAC maintenance service. Investing a few dollars in a regular maintenance schedule gives you peace of mind, knowing you’re less likely to have HVAC problems and that you’re getting the most out of your HVAC system.

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