Your HVAC system is an investment that can send your utility and repair bills through the roof if it is not properly maintained. Protect your investment and your wallet by performing do it yourself heating and cooling maintenance on your Portland, OR home. Following these simple steps on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis will keep your HVAC system in top shape, saving you time and money. For DIY help or complex HVAC challenges, contact your local HVAC professional.
Remove dirt and debris from the outdoor unit
If your HVAC system has a unit outside, you will need to manually remove dirt and debris from it on a weekly basis. Wear gloves for safety. You can also use a garden hose to spray down the unit. For preventative measures, make sure at least two feet on all sides of the unit are free from vegetation and other obstructions.
Remove any obstructions from air vents, baseboard heaters, and radiators
Air vents, baseboard heaters, and radiators can unintentionally be covered or obstructed, especially if you have small children. Obstructions not only compromise the effectiveness of your HVAC system but can be a fire hazard too. Make an effort to check your registers on a weekly basis. Remove any obstructions to ensure full air flow and a safe environment for you and your family.
Check and replace your air filters
Cleaning and changing your air filters is one of the easiest ways to ensure the longevity of your HVAC system. Regular maintenance makes the HVAC system more efficient and limits unnecessary strain.
Once a month, take a few minutes to check the air filter for dirt and clogging. If the filter has a lot of build up or the color has changed, it is time to replace the filter. Ideally, you should change the filter every 30 to 90 days. You may need to change it more if you have pets or frequently open your windows.
Dust your registers
In addition to checking your registers for obstructions on a weekly basis, take a few minutes every month to wipe down the registers. Use a damp cloth to remove dust and debris.
Inspect air ducts, heating pipes, and window seals of window air conditioners to ensure they are sealed properly
Improperly sealed ducts, pipes, and window air conditioners make your HVAC system less efficient and increase your utility bills. If you find any improperly sealed parts of your HVAC system, call your local HVAC professional immediately for repairs.
Give your humidifier a holiday and TLC
In the summer months in the Pacific Northwest, you don’t need to use the humidifier component of your HVAC system because it is already humid outside. In fact, a central air conditioner will not cool or dehumidify properly if the humidifier is running. To shut down the humidifier, turn the humidistat to the off position or the lowest percent of relative humidity. Next, close the bypass duct damper (if your humidifier has one) or turn it to the summer position. Then, turn off the water supply to the humidifier. Finally, clean the humidifier, remove or replace the water panel, and leave dry until winter. Before the cool months arrive, clean or replace the pad, drum, pan, and float.
Clean drain channels to prevent clogs
The spring is the best time to remove drain-clogging mold and mildew from your HVAC’s drain channels. Clogged drains can lead to water damage inside of the house like stained ceilings and damaged floors. Use a stiff wire or a wet/dry vacuum to prevent clogs from forming. After you’ve removed potential obstructions, pour a bleach/water solution into the drain line or access hole to kill the mold and mildew. If your drain is already clogged, call an HVAC professional.
Twice a year
Change the blower filter
At least twice a year, once before the heating season and once before the cooling season, change the blower filter. If you live in a dusty area, you may have to do this more often.
Straighten any bent coil fins using a fin comb
HVAC coil fins can sometimes get bent, which blocks airflow. To straighten the fins, shut off the power to your air conditioner first. Then, remove the panel to the indoor unit and the wire grille to the outdoor unit. Next, remove the sheet metal screws, so you can lift off the outdoor unit’s fan and grille. Then, remove the evaporator coil’s front cover plate. Use a fin comb that matches how many fins per inch are found in your system. Start at the bottom of the condenser fins and move carefully upward to straighten and clean them.
Once a year
Clean your registers
About once a year, give your registers a deep clean. Remove registers from the wall, ceiling or floor. If your registers are caulked or painted in place, use a utility knife to score around the edges. Use warm, soapy water and a soft brush to wash the registers once they are removed. This is also a convenient time to lubricate all of the moving parts with a lubricating spray. It’s a good time to repaint the registers too. Make sure the registers are completely dry before you put it back in.
Have your HVAC system serviced by an HVAC professional
If you regularly do heating and cooling home maintenance yourself, your HVAC system will work more efficiently and with fewer problems, saving you time and money. You’ll also be able to spot common HVAC problems early, giving you enough time to call a technician before the problem gets out of hand. Once a year, you should have an HVAC professional service your HVAC system. A professional will be able to test your home’s performance, clean your ducts, and improve your home’s air quality.