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There’s nothing like unexpected repairs to throw a wrench in your plans.

Whether you were saving for holiday gifts or hoping to spend the afternoon with your family, an unforeseen HVAC issue can lead to uncomfortable temperatures, long waits for a repair, and a costly bill at the end of it all.

Fortunately, many expensive errors are easy to prevent on your own. The core of the issue is finding ways to reduce the strain on your system, which you can do with just a little time and elbow grease. Keep reading for five ways to do your own heating and cooling system maintenance.

1. Do Your Own System Cleaning

For many homeowners, out of sight is out of mind when it comes to their HVAC system. Even during whole-house spring cleanings, it’s easy to forget that your heating and cooling system builds up dirt as well.

But when debris builds up on certain parts of the system, it can make the entire unit work harder to keep your home warm or cool as needed. When this happens, you’ll need to focus your efforts on both the indoor and outdoor parts of your system to bring it back up to speed.

Outdoors

To reduce the chances of damage to your internal components, you’ll want to be sure your outdoor unit is free of debris. When you’re doing your seasonal yard work, trim away any overgrown trees or shrubs to ensure there’s a two-foot clearance around your system. Clear away any leaves, branches, or other debris that has fallen onto your unit.

Next, it’s time to clean your condenser fins, which build up a layer of dirt and dust over time. Make sure the unit is off before starting, and take careful steps to vacuum or hose off any buildup on the fins.

Don’t forget to also check that your unit is level, as your property may shift with storms or landscaping.

Indoors

Your work inside is much easier: make sure to periodically remove any buildup of dust from the unit.

This is especially important for your evaporator coils, which are critical in capturing and removing the hot air in your home. You can use a soft brush or a can of compressed air for this work.

Don’t forget to also clean out any liquid that has settled into the drainage pans as well.

2. Check Your Air Filter

This step is an obvious one, yet many homeowners forget it. Depending on the filter brand, the type of filter, the presence of pets, and the desired air quality in your home, you’ll want to check your filter every 45 days to six months. Some filters must be replaced, while others are reusable and allow you to clean them before setting them back in place.

You can tell when your filter needs changing or cleaning because it will appear visibly dirty or clogged. If it’s a reusable filter, give it a gentle wash with mild soap and water. If it’s not reusable, head to the store

Make sure to opt for high-rated filters to ensure that you and your family can breathe easy in your home.

3. Have Your Ductwork Inspected

If your air conditioning system contains ductwork, you’ll want to have it inspected every once in a while. Blockages in your ducts can keep your entire system from running efficiently, as the blockage will prevent airflow and cause your system to struggle to heat and cool your home. Worse, these dust-ridden blockages often contain mites, pet dander, microbes, and other airborne nuisances.

During a duct inspection, a technician will clean your ducts and seal any air leaks. You may also want to consider having your ducts insulated as well.

4. Optimize Your Thermostat

If you haven’t already upgraded to a programmable thermostat, it’s time to embrace the technology! New thermostats aren’t just a fancy new gadget; they also allow you to regulate your home’s temperature more efficiently than you could otherwise.

For example, pre-programmed thermostats can allow the temperature to level off at night while your family sleeps, and it can adjust it to your preferences in the morning before you wake. Each household’s needs will be different, of course, but there are plenty of resources for energy-efficient settings if you’re interested in enhancing your home’s comfort and savings.

A smart air conditioning and heating system can even be paired with your phone, allowing you to control the temperature when you’re away or start the system when you’re heading home. Some apps even offer settings that automatically turn the system off when you’re away, giving you a hassle-free method of easing the burden on your HVAC system.

5. Get Professional Heating and Cooling System Maintenance

Even when you follow all the steps above, it’s still important to have an on-site visit from an experienced professional every once in a while. A technician can inspect your system with a trained eye, ensuring that your HVAC maintenance is up to par. Here are a few things an expert will do to keep your system from needing costly repairs:

  • Lubricate moving parts
  • Check the refrigerant levels and replace missing liquid
  • Address any refrigerant leaks
  • Check your gas pressure
  • Inspect electrical components and wiring
  • Ensure the thermostat’s reading matches your home temperature
  • Replace any worn parts
  • Clean the inside of your outdoor unit

At least once a year, you should have a professional come out to make sure the more technical parts of your system are properly maintained. To be safe, of course, you may want to reach out twice per year: once in the spring before you make use of your air conditioner, and once in the fall before you need your heater.

Avoid Costly HVAC System Repairs

Want to prevent uncomfortable temperatures and costly repair bills? At the end of the day, it’s all up to you! With a few simple steps, performed on a regular basis, you can keep your system up to speed with little issue.

If you’re looking for an HVAC company for your ongoing professional maintenance needs, we’re here to help. Austin area homeowners and businesses have trusted Schneider Mechanical for years with their heating and cooling system maintenance. Contact us to learn how our knowledgeable team can help save you on repairs!