When it comes to keeping your home’s HVAC system running smoothly, there are a few essentials that every homeowner needs to know. Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or a home HVAC veteran, make sure you have these fundamentals down.
Keeping these six tips in mind will maximize your HVAC system’s lifespan and keep your family comfortable and safe during all seasons.
1. Consider HVAC placement
If you’re installing a new HVAC system in your home, it’s important to consider the placement of your new furnace and air conditioning units. It makes sense to put these big pieces of machinery somewhere out of the way and, if possible, out of sight for aesthetic reasons. That’s why you’ll typically find furnaces in places like back corners of basements, and air conditioning units in low-traffic yard areas.
But it’s important not to hide your HVAC systems too much. You—and your HVAC technicians—need to be able to access them regularly for maintenance. Make sure your HVAC components won’t be completely walled off or buried under garden or basement debris, so you’ll have continual access into the future.
2. Keep the area around your furnace and air conditioner clear
Aside from access, it’s also important to give your furnace and air conditioning units room to breathe, since they’re controlling air flow in and out of your HVAC systems and therefore your home. Though it may be tempting to hide your AC unit with shrubs or pile boxes of keepsakes around your furnace, be sure to keep these areas clear of debris so air flow isn’t hindered.
And if your AC unit is in a spot prone to collecting leaves or other tree debris, like flower petals, be sure to check it regularly and clean it off as needed.
3. Get regular tune-ups for your HVAC system
A lot of people think they only need to call an HVAC technician if something breaks, but that’s not the case. Just like your car or bike needs regular maintenance to keep running at its best, so does your home HVAC system.
Regular check-ups from a certified technician can identify weaknesses with parts like belts, hoses, and other replaceables before they give out and cause a problem. Proactive maintenance can prevent your furnace or air conditioning unit from breaking at the worst time, like during a major heat wave or the next polar vortex.
4. Replace your air filters regularly
Residential HVAC systems have disposable air filters that you need to change regularly.
Before you stock up, make sure you know what size you’ll need (It’ll likely be written on the side of the current filter, stuck somewhere into your furnace,) and what level of filtration you want for your home. Too coarse of a filter won’t trap the dust, allergens, and other particles that you should keep out of your home’s air and away from the working parts of your HVAC system. But finer and finer filters can cost more and more money, so you will want to optimize what’s best for your family and your budget.
Once you’ve figured that out, best practice is to stock up and set up a reminder system so you don’t forget to replace them as often as needed. A general rule of thumb is to replace your filter once every 90 days, but that can vary with the filter, the system, and other circumstances like if your home is undergoing dusty renovations or a family member has allergies.
5. Update your thermostat
If you’re still living in the olden days, your home might have a thermostat that’s just an on/off switch and a temperature dial. Upgrading to a programmable control system for your HVAC can optimize your system and the energy it uses, for instance by letting the house get warmer (or colder) when nobody’s home. This isn’t just a good way to keep your energy bills lower—reducing the amount of times that the system switches on and off actually reduces strain on the system and can prolong its life.
Beyond programmable units, homeowners can get “smart” controls for their home as well. These are even more customizable and often linked to a phone app, so you can make changes while you’re out of the house. Some will even pay attention to when people are home (using motion detectors) and figure out on their own how to best optimize temperatures for energy efficiency and your family’s comfort.
6. Find a great HVAC technician
Last but certainly not least, finding an HVAC technician you trust is a must for any HVAC-related installation, maintenance, or repair. Although an increasing number of homeowners may be interested in tackling projects themselves (thanks, YouTube), HVAC systems require a higher level of skill and experience than the average home improvement job. Especially when you’re dealing with components like electrical wiring or gas fitting, you’ll want to be sure to hire a licensed professional who can do the work safely, effectively, and legally.
There are a number of ways you can go about finding an HVAC technician. You might ask your personal network for recommendations, in case any of your family or friends already have a technician they trust. Reading online reviews can be helpful, though they can also be misleading when only the most and least happy customers speak up.
Finally, you might go through a branded provider, like Sam’s Club Home Install Experts™ by Service Finance, to find the best HVAC services near you. Companies like this are built around customer loyalty and partnerships with trusted brands, and can also provide a higher level of customer service, especially if something were to go wrong. If you’re looking to maximize the value of the services you’re receiving, a branded provider can be a great way to go.
If you need your HVAC system repaired, replaced, or a new one installed, Sam’s Club Members have access to free, no-obligation consultations with vetted HVAC technicians in your area and a 10% Discount Off Everyday Dealer Pricing* for Sam’s Club Members.