Heating and Air 101: What Happens During HVAC Maintenance?

    A fully functional HVAC unit does more than heat and cool your indoor setting. It also regulates humidity levels and ensures air quality, vital to your health. It’s, therefore, necessary to boost your HVAC’s lifespan and performance by scheduling regular maintenance. Although residential and commercial housing benefit from the multifunctional use of an HVAC system, knowing what happens during HVAC maintenance is just as important. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what to expect during HVAC maintenance.

    1. Heating and Cooling System Inspection

    Inspect your HVAC’s heating and cooling system for irregularities. A good way to spot problems is by closely monitoring both processes. During heating, your HVAC will use installed heating equipment, like a furnace or heating pump.

    Furnaces produce heat differently, from electricity to natural gas, propane, oil, and geothermal power. Heat pumps, on the contrary, serve a dual purpose. They take in heat from the outside and transfer it to your indoor setting. A heating pump can also cool your home by reversing the heat transfer.

    When cooling your home or commercial workspace, three components of your HVAC’s cooling system aid the process: air conditioner, heating pump, and refrigerant. Cold air is thus generated by regulating indoor temperature as heat is removed from your indoor setting and vented outside.

    Checking your HVAC’s heating and cooling system keeps you updated on your HVAC’s condition. It will save you a lot in repair and installation expenses. Consider looking up reliable heating and air conditioning companies for an in-depth inspection.

    2. Outer Unit Cleaning

    Keeping your HVAC’s outer unit clean and free of dirt and debris can’t be overstated. It lessens the damage caused to your HVAC’s interior by external elements. A clean outer unit also reduces utility expenses, repair costs, and the number of times you need to replace attachments, such as air filters.

    Consult your HVAC service dealer for professional advice. Also, use your HVAC instructor’s manual to understand what happens during HVAC maintenance. Wear safety gloves before turning off your HVAC unit from the main power supply.

    Then, carefully remove the outer unit’s casing, which gives you full access to the equipment underneath. Use your hands or a portable vacuum cleaner to gently remove twigs, leaves, and accumulated debris.

    Next, trim vegetation growing too close to your HVAC’s outer unit. Falling leaves, twigs, and branches easily clog up your outer unit and can disrupt heat and airflow. Therefore, clear the space around your outer unit at least three feet during air conditioner installation to guarantee uninterrupted air flow and heat transfer.

    It’s time to clean your HVAC’s outer unit properly. Avoid using highly pressurized water, as it could damage delicate electrical parts. A garden hose is ideal. Regulate the water pressure by pressing your thumb on the pipe’s end.

    Clean your outer unit from multiple angles to eliminate all the dirt. As an added measure, use a suitable spray foam cleaner to help remove stubborn dirt and grime from inner surfaces. Give it a few minutes to bond and loosen the dirt before thoroughly rinsing.

    3. Cleaning Air Filters

    If an HVAC unit is installed in your home or at work, you probably know what happens during HVAC maintenance. As seasons change, dirt and debris build up in your HVAC’s air filters, slowing down your HVAC’s performance and disrupting air quality. They must be cleaned or replaced during your HVAC inspection routine.

    Once you’ve safely removed the air filters, gently lay them on a stable surface. Use a portable vacuum cleaner and remove all visible traces of dirt and debris. A brush with soft bristles will also come in handy in removing leftover dirt and debris without damaging the air filters.

    For stubborn layers and a deep cleaning solution, soak the air filters in a warm mixture of water and vinegar for half an hour, or use spray foam cleaner and let it settle for about ten minutes. Then, rinse the dirt and grime with warm water or a garden hose, but avoid using pressurized water. Let the air filters dry before reattaching them to your HVAC. This is a simple and quick cleaning routine you could do by yourself or hire a professional HVAC company to do it for you.

    4. Cleaning Pans and Drain Lines

    Condensate pans and drain lines are key to an HVAC cooling system. Over time, your HVAC’s drain line can get clogged with dirt and debris. Without realizing what happens during HVAC maintenance, a clogged drain line is a recipe for repair expenses and costly utility bills.

    Warnings signs to watch out for are when your condensate pan doesn’t drain, condensation forms on your HVAC unit, algae or mold growth, a frozen evaporator coil, or your air conditioning system fails to work. Before it gets this bad, take preventive measures.

    To start cleaning your condensate pan and drain line, wear protective clothing. Go to the outdoor unit and shut down your HVAC’s thermostat. Switch off the main power supply as well. Locate the drain line and condensate pan. Remove any water that didn’t drain properly from the condensate pan.

    Use a warm mixture of water, bleach, vinegar, or a suitable mold cleaner to eliminate mold or algae growth on the condensate pan. Then, locate the drain line’s access point close to the condensate pan. Unscrew the cap for a clear end-to-end view of the drain line.

    If you see debris, use a drain snake to remove them effectively. Now, pour water and vinegar through the drain line’s access point. Let the mixture settle in the drain line for half an hour to dislodge layers of dirt and grime and kill off any mold or algae.

    Flush the drain line with clean water and repeat the process until you are satisfied your HVAC’s drain line is free of dirt and debris. Carry out this cleaning routine as often as possible, or include it in your maintenance routine with a good HVAC company.

    5. Checking the Controls and Thermostat

    The thermostat is one of the most integral parts of your HVAC control system. It regulates when your HVAC unit and furnace turn on and off. It’s, therefore, important to understand what happens during HVAC maintenance and ensure this vital appliance is checked and maintained.

    Recent HVAC models feature programmable smart thermostats that are easier to troubleshoot when your HVAC unit isn’t working properly. Try replacing the batteries on your thermostat control, and if your HVAC unit doesn’t turn on, consider calling your HVAC service dealer. HVAC controls use sensors to detect changes in the environment, like a rise or drop in temperature and humidity. The sensors collect vital data and relay it to your HVAC control system. They must be checked during scheduled maintenance and replaced when necessary.

    Irrespective of whether you use a digital or analog thermostat control, the thermostat must be calibrated to ensure your HVAC performs optimally. Thermostat calibration also pinpoints problems with your HVAC unit to establish if you need furnace replacement.

    6. Inspecting Ductwork, Vents, Blowers, and Fan Motors

    Since your HVAC unit comprises different components working together, a problem in one area may affect other parts of the system. Hiring HVAC services is highly recommended as it’s easy to overlook a flaw in your HVAC ductwork, vents, blowers, and fan motors. Your HVAC technician should walk you through what happens during HVAC maintenance. Inspect your ductwork for dirt buildup and air leakage. Ducts are important in facilitating a steady airflow, as they supply, return, and exhaust air.

    Check your air vents and ensure nothing is blocking the passageways. Coatings of fine dust on your vent covers are a breeding ground for bacteria and allergens, which aren’t good for your respiratory health. Remove dirt buildup by vacuuming your vent openings and cleaning the dust off your covers.

    Unusual noises, poor air flow resulting in hot and cold spots, and burning smells are sure signs your fan systems are not working properly. Inspect both your HVAC indoor and outdoor units. Clean your blower and condenser fans and replace old fan motors that could cause overheating.

    7. Lubrication of Moving Parts

    It certainly pays to have a clear picture of what happens during HVAC maintenance, primarily when considering the moving parts that must be lubricated for the system to run smoothly. Your HVAC’s heat pump compressor falls under this category as it plays an important role in heat exchange. The HVAC compressor’s internal parts move faster as they regulate refrigerant pressure and facilitate heat transfer, and thus need special oil lubricants to work effectively. Lubrication also serves another purpose; it creates a protective coating around the compressor’s rubber seals and jointed parts.

    You should be concerned if your HVAC’s air compressor makes unusual noises, takes longer to work, shows signs of oil leakage, or produces smoke and a burning smell. A faulty or damaged compressor could easily lead to heating repairs, expensive replacements, and installation of a new HVAC system.

    8. Replacing Pulleys and Worn-out Belts

    While hiring heat pump services and keeping your HVAC’s refrigeration components in proper condition is one thing, you can’t rule out the significance of a working belt and pulley system. If your HVAC unit uses pulleys and belts, it’s all the more reason to acquaint yourself with what happens during HVAC maintenance.

    Large, belts-driven HVAC models must be maintained regularly. The belts join the fan motor pulley to the blower pulley. This connection powers the blower wheel, which pushes air through your HVAC’s ductwork.

    Inconsistencies in your belt and pulley system can cause functional problems. A belt that is misaligned or tensioned incorrectly could slip or exert stress on the pulleys. This flaw is one of the main causes of premature wear and tear in belt-driven HVAC systems.

    Tensioned too-tight belts over-stress the drive motor bearings and are likely to break when your HVAC unit runs. Have your HVAC service dealer inspect your belt and pulley system during maintenance. Check for tension irregularities and signs of wear and tear, like cracks and breakages. Replacing old and worn-out belts and pulleys considerably affects your HVAC’s energy efficiency, performance, and longevity.

    9. Inspecting Electrical Components and Batteries

    HVAC units run by burning a fuel source or using electrical energy. When your HVAC isn’t operating smoothly, fails to respond to programmed controls, or shuts down, can you trace the problem? That’s exactly why you need to know what happens during HVAC maintenance.

    Your HVAC’s key electrical components include fan motors, refrigeration equipment, and devices such as capacitors, gas and solenoid valves. Then, there’s your HVAC control system, which relays information to your thermostat and fans. Your HVAC control system also has a safety switch, which shuts off your HVAC system when an electrical or mechanical malfunction occurs and prevents further damage. Hence, you need to understand how these different electrical components work.

    When you understand how your HVAC’s electrical components run, it’s a lot easier to troubleshoot and diagnose the problem. Pay close attention to unusual sounds from your HVAC’s indoor or outdoor unit, burning smells, hot and cold spots, dirt buildup in interior components, and inconsistent performance of operating systems, such as the fan cycling controls.

    Check your batteries if your thermostat control isn’t regulating your HVAC’s heating and cooling system. Open the back cover and replace old batteries with a fresh set. If your HVAC unit fails to respond, look for trusted AC repair companies near you. Get them to perform a system check, repair and replace, and recalibrate your HVAC control system.

    10. Checking for Gas Leaks

    Gas leaks pose a serious risk to the environment, your health, and your safety. Use your sense of smell, sight, and hearing to check for gas leaks. Although natural gas is odorless, gas processing companies usually add the chemical mercaptan, which has a distinctive odor akin to rotten eggs.

    Once you detect this smell around your home or workspace, your furnace possibly has a gas leak. Also, visually inspect your furnace gas lines and check for damages or loose fixtures. Gas makes a hissing noise as it leaks through openings, so check for holes in the gas lines. Nonetheless, gas leaks are sometimes hard to detect, so it’s a good idea to contact heating and air services for a professional gas leak inspection and routine HVAC maintenance.

    One thing is clear: If you want your HVAC to keep you cozy and comfortable throughout different seasons of the year, you can’t rely on professional HVAC services alone. It would help if you familiarized yourself with what happens during HVAC maintenance. Having system knowledge is convenient. You can detect faults in your HVAC components before they escalate to bigger problems, troubleshoot and make minor repairs, and perform regular system checks, cleaning, and maintenance.

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