When Should I Tune Up My HVAC?
Have you noticed that your air conditioning isn’t cooling the room like it used to? Or maybe you’ve spotted a slight uptick in your energy or gas bills. These are signs that you may need an HVAC tune-up.
But the above are just symptoms, so how do we prevent issues like these from cropping up? The answer is simple: preventative maintenance in the form of tune-ups.
Tune-ups are an ideal way to ensure that your HVAC system maintains its efficiency year after year to avoid premature replacement or damage. Performing a tune-up can also help safeguard your family from more serious issues like high carbon monoxide levels.
The Monkey Wrench family has been conducting HVAC installs and maintenance in Los Angeles County for over six decades. Now, we’re passing that experience on to you so that you can get the most out of your HVAC system.
Even if you’re well outside of our service area, we want you to be confident in the choices you make when it comes to maintaining your system to ensure you don’t get hit with surprise bills and breakdowns.
If you’re in the dark as to when it might be a good time to get an HVAC tune-up, then follow along with us to learn about why maintenance is important and how it can help you save.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- When you should get an HVAC tune-up
- What is covered in an HVAC tune-up
- Factors that can impact the frequency of tune-ups
- And what you can do at home to boost your HVAC’s efficiency
When should you get an HVAC tune-up?
No one house is the same when it comes to environmental factors that play into when you should get an HVAC tune-up. That said, the general best practice is to get an HVAC tune-up one to two times a year before summer and again before winter, depending on a few factors you’ll learn in this article.
Doing annual or biannual maintenance on your HVAC keeps your A/C cool and your heater warm and efficient. This isn’t a call to action for you to call in for a tune-up, but it’s important to understand why maintenance is integral to your HVACs longevity.
Having a technician come out for regular maintenance on your HVAC system prevents further issues from popping up and ensures all of your HVAC components are clean and screwed down. Even if you are replacing an air filter now and again without the help of a professional, that also helps promote a longer lifespan for your HVAC system.
Let’s take a deeper look at what is covered in HVAC tune-ups.
What is covered in an HVAC tune-up?
HVAC tune-ups are comprehensive examinations of the entire system. Tune-ups can vary from service provider to service provider but generally include several key points of examination and maintenance, including:
- Cleaning coils
- Straightening fins
- Checking refrigerant levels
- Tightening electrical connections
- Testing the thermostat
- Checking temperature differential
- Checking fan motor
- Swapping the air filter
- Lubricating moving parts
- Inspecting safety controls
- Measure amperage and wattage
If you do decide to call a technician, be sure to ask them about the above services to make sure you’re getting the most out of your money. It’s always best to be on the same page as a service provider before a technician comes to your home.
Now onto the factors that can impact the frequency of HVAC tune-ups and maintenance.
Factors that can impact the frequency of tune-ups
As mentioned earlier, there are multiple factors that increase the need for regular HVAC maintenance. Some factors are easy to miss, while others might make you say, “of course!”
Regardless of whether you notice them or not, these factors affect your HVAC efficiency.
Pets that shed a lot of hair frequently can inadvertently cause a dip in your HVAC efficiency.
Animal fur is often found in HVAC systems by technicians performing maintenance. Loose fur can collect in the air filter and ventilation to create clogs, which decreases the system's efficiency.
Pet dander can also create an issue as it builds up in the ventilation system and is then recycled back into your home, making an unfriendly environment for those with allergies.
Regular maintenance can mean something different for every homeowner. The same is true when it comes to climate. Where you live and what type of weather you get will play a role in the frequency of HVAC maintenance.
For those who live in hot weather, you’ll want to get your HVAC looked at before the warmest months of the year to guarantee your system is in top shape for the season. Likewise, the same can be said for colder climates.
If you live with all of the seasons in full swing, it’s best to have a technician come out for HVAC maintenance before summer and ahead of winter.
If you have a family that stays home a lot or have even just one family member that is frequently home with the air conditioning or heater on, then your HVAC may be working over time. This will increase the amount of wear and tear put on your HVAC.
While there’s sometimes no avoiding the need to be home on a hot or cold day, the amount of time spent at home with your HVAC active should be accounted for when it comes to how often you’ll need your HVAC serviced.
If you smoke in your home, you’ll want to be extra vigilant when it comes to checking your air filter. This is because cigarettes release compounds like tar and nicotine, which attract other particles like dirt and dust.
Smoke can also be distributed to other rooms in the house through the ventilation system, potentially putting others in a harmful environment. For this reason, it’s important to install a higher-quality filter.
If checking your filter a couple of times a month isn’t for you, then it may be best to look at other options aside from a standard air filter like a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) 13 or higher. These filters are more expensive than standard ones but will help limit smoke’s effect on your home and make required maintenance less frequent.
So, what can you do to ensure you’re holding up your end of the maintenance responsibility? Let’s explore!
What can you do to boost the efficiency of your HVAC?
You might have an idea of the best ways to promote HVAC health and efficiency in your home, but let’s explore some things you can do on your own to keep your HVAC running well.
1. Changing out the filter
Here’s an easy one you can do on your own with a little reading. Replacing your air filter should only take a couple of hours. Be sure to brush up on your HVAC owner's manual to ensure you’ve got the proper materials and know-how.
Checking your filter once a month is a good practice, but some homeowners may need to replace their HVAC filter once every three months or so, depending on their home environment.
2. Adjust thermostat settings
This one might be obvious, but always make sure you’re adjusting your thermostat accordingly. Best practices include dropping the temperature in the summer by a few degrees as opposed to 15 degrees and increasing it in the winter by a few degrees.
Adjusting your thermostat will ensure that it isn’t costing you an arm and a leg year round. It also lessens the amount of strain put on your system, which promotes a longer lifespan.
3. Keep condenser unit clean
It’s understandable that your condenser unit may go overlooked since it sits outside of your home and out of mind for the most part. However, keeping the area around the condenser unit clean and free from debris is an easy way to make sure you get the most from your HVAC.
Doing this regularly will lessen the chances of blockages that can tank performance. Of course, you’ll also need to keep up on the interior of the unit, which includes the condenser coil. For this, you’ll want to book a technician to come out to perform maintenance.
4. Keep blinds closed on hot days
Here’s a simple one that will yield some solid results. On warm days when you’re using your air conditioning, be sure to close up blinds and curtains. Doing so will lessen the amount of heat in your home and give the air conditioning less work to do. It’s simple but effective.
These are just a few ways to keep your HVAC running efficiently. Be sure to account for your own environmental factors to ensure your HVAC is performing at its best.
Ready to tackle HVAC maintenance?
To recap, we touched on when you should tune up your HVAC, what is covered in an HVAC tune-up, factors that impact maintenance frequency, and what you can do to boost your HVAC efficiency.
While some homeowners will need more preventative maintenance than others, a safe rule is to have a technician perform a tune-up at least once a year.
Following the information provided is crucial to keeping your HVAC running smoothly. Considering your own environmental factors will also prevent your HVAC system from petering out prematurely.
We strive for a five-star experience both online and in the field. We’re excited to bring our knowledge from the field to you. Whether you choose us to service your HVAC system, be sure you find a communicative company that is transparent about its services.
To learn more about Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air’s HVAC services, visit our HVAC Services page for more information.
If you’re keen to learn more about HVAC systems, check out our article on how to make HVAC systems more efficient.