When it comes to HVAC units, there is both good news and bad news.
If you take care of your air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump, you can depend on the unit to last for quite a while – perhaps as long as 25 years. On the other hand, if you do not properly maintain your HVAC or (worse) allow your unit(s) to fall into disrepair, they could work for less than half of that time.
- Air conditioners – New AC units typically work effectively for 15-20 years.
- Heat pumps – These typically work for 10-20 years, depending on how much you rely on it.
- Furnaces – Gas furnaces can last 20-30 years, sometimes even longer. However, if you do not properly service a furnace, it may last as few as 10 years.
- Ductless mini-splits – These are relatively newer systems in the HVAC world, but they have great working lives, lasting from 10-30 years.
As you can see, modern air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, and ductless mini-splits are built to last and can produce ultimate comfort for years. However, you can only depend on these units if you provide consistent and knowledgeable maintenance.
That is why it is important that you provide either professional service to your unit at least twice a year – or learn how to handle these steps yourself.
There are simple things you can do, such as changing the filters and ensuring the outdoor unit is clean and clear from debris, but there are also several other steps you can and should take if you are attempting do-it-yourself HVAC maintenance.
NOTE: BEFORE YOU CONDUCT ANY ELECTRICAL-RELATED MAINTENANCE, MAKE SURE TO TURN THE POWER THE UNIT OFF AT THE SOURCE (EITHER BREAKER OR FUSE BOX)!
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- Make sure your ducts are clear
- A clogged vent will significantly affect your system’s efficiency for the worse. Remove any dirty or clogged vents and clean them with soap and water. Also be sure to check the air duct itself for blockages.
- Check the thermostat battery
- Thermostat batteries can last up to 2 years depending on usage and device model.
- Clear air conditioning unit fins
- (NOTE: We recommend you purchase fin spray and a fin comb – available at a local hardware store – before embarking on this step. Fin combs are measured in fins per inch.) Located on the outdoor unit, the fins resemble a metal grill. They provide airflow and move heat away from the system. Clogged fins decrease airflow and lead to an inefficient system. Remove the fan cage with a wrench and a screwdriver and use fin spray to clean them from the inside. You should also utilize the fin comb to straighten any bent find.
- Clean your evaporator coil
- (NOTE: You will need a spray cleanser specifically formulated for cleaning coils for this step, specifically a no-rinse foam cleaner.) Located indoors, the evaporator uses refrigerant to remove heat from the air before circulating that cooled air through your home (the hot air is then funneled to the outdoor unit for release). Evaporator coils are in the access panel on the air handler unit. Use a socket wrench to remove the panel. Dirt and/or mold can clog your AC during use. Spray the evaporator coil. The no-foam spray will liquify and cleanse itself.
- Clear your evaporator drain
- Your HVAC’s evaporator drain must steer clear of dirt, mold, and debris, otherwise it will back up and cause a system malfunction. A shop vac is a good solution to clean drain. (NOTE: You may also use specialty products available at hardware stores.)
Follow these steps at least once a year – if not twice – and you will be able to help prolong the life and efficiency of your HAVC unit.
However, if you are dealing with continued or significant problems with your heating and cooling, here are some rules to follow that will help you know whether it is time to replace the unit:
- Your HVAC units are consistently breaking down
- If you have been keeping up with regular HVAC maintenance, your technician should be able to tell you of any impending issues and whether your system is beginning to fail. However, if you have not, or you have not been told of any issues and yet it keeps breaking down, it is likely time for replacement – if only to save money. HVAC repairs are not cheap. And if you are forced to repair your units frequently, it may actually be cheaper to go ahead and purchase a new unit.
- How old is your HVAC?
- Despite being built to last, air conditioners will eventually wear out. So, if your unit is starting to cause you consistent issues and it is over 10 years old, it could be a sign that it is time to replace it. Also, keep in mind that as the unit ages, its mechanical parts may be harder to obtain or service. If this happens, you will most certainly need to replace the entire unit.
- Your HVAC is costing you more in utility bills
- If your utility bills suddenly begin to rise month over month – and the weather outside has not gone haywire, forcing you to run your HVAC units non-stop – it could mean that your HVAC is malfunctioning or losing efficiency. Energy bills often slowly increase as your HVAC ages, showing that the two issues can be related. Remember, this does not mean one randomly expensive bill. Rather, look for a pattern of increased rates.
If you are facing any of these issues, know that it is, indeed time to go ahead and replace your system, or are looking to get regular maintenance going on your HVAC in order to prolong it, consider contacting Zone. Our technicians are NATE certified and have been providing total comfort to homes throughout north Georgia for over 20 years.
Our technicians understand both how to provide the service you need and the customer service you demand. Contact us today at 770-904-5432 and let us put you on track for immediate, efficient comfort.