You bought a home! Congratulations! Whether this is your first time purchasing a home or fourth, it’s important to be familiar with the heating and cooling systems that control its comfort levels before they need a major repair. Doing so allows you to perform the preventive maintenance the HVAC system needs, recognize signs of trouble and avoid newbie mistakes. In turn, your HVAC system will reward you with energy savings and reliability.
HVAC Tips for New Homeowners
- Know the HVAC system: Does your home have central air conditioning, heat pumps, mini-split systems or a gas unit? After learning exactly how your home is heated and cooled, find out what type of fuel it uses, such as electricity, oil, propane or natural gas. Other important things to learn about your HVAC system include its:
- Age: While some HVAC systems seem last decades, most start experiencing problems after 10 or 15 years.
- Efficiency rating: Heating and cooling systems have SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio), EER (energy efficiency ratio), AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) or HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor) ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient a unit is.
- Warranty: In addition to learning the warranty’s term, learn what actions might accidentally void it.
- Maintenance inspection results: If the previous homeowner took good care of the HVAC system, they hired a professional to maintain it annually. Ask for the inspection reports to learn about the types of issues the system experienced to be aware of problems that might occur.
- Change the air filters: One of the simplest, most effective ways to keep your HVAC unit in top shape is to change its air filters once every thirty days. Some thermostats will remind you about filter changes.
- The area around outdoor units: Maintaining the landscape does more than making your yard look beautiful, it also helps your HVAC system perform well and have proper airflow. Shrubs, trees, plants and other foliage should be about three feet away from the unit. It is also a good idea to keep garden tools, supplies, furniture and toys away from it. As leaves and pine needles fall on and around the unit, clear them away. The same goes for snow.
- Take care with ice: It is okay if a little bit of ice forms on an HVAC unit during the winter. If larger sheets or blocks of ice form during the winter or you notice ice formations when the weather is warmer, call a professional right away. Do not pour warm water on the ice to melt it.
- Don’t close vents: In an attempt to save money on heating and cooling costs, some homeowners close the vents in rooms they don’t use often. This action will actually increase your energy costs because your system will have to work harder to maintain the comfort levels in your home. For this reason, professionals recommend that you never block vent registers with furniture, books, blankets or other objects. If you only want to heat or cool certain areas of your home, talk to an HVAC expert about creating different zones.
- Annual HVAC maintenance: Hire an HVAC service to perform maintenance services on your heating and cooling units at least once a year. The tune-up will keep your system in optimal condition and alert you to small problems that could become major repairs down the road. A good time of year to schedule maintenance is during the spring or fall before the weather gets too hot or too cold.
- Mind the ductwork: Leaks in ductwork negatively affect an HVAC system’s performance and send conditioned air into spaces that you don’t use, like between the walls.
- Find a reputable HVAC company now: Don’t wait until you need a repair to search for a company that you can trust. Searching for one in advance gives you time to research and vet different contractors. A good company is one that has served your area for several years, provides emergency services, and specializes in a variety of home comfort systems.
The HVAC system is one of the features that attracted you to your new home. Maximize its life and your energy savings by keeping it in good shape. If you ever have questions about your heating and cooling units, never hesitate to get in touch with McKeown’s Heating and Air Services. We’ve proudly served the Chester and Winnsboro areas since 1998 and can’t wait to become your trusted HVAC expert.