You may not think you need HVAC maintenance. As long as your unit is running smoothly and you can afford to fix it if it malfunctions, you may try to skip HVAC maintenance appointments to save money. It may save you a small amount of money in the short term, but it is a risky gamble because it will almost always end up costing you in the long run.
Maintenance visits allow technicians to identify minor problems before they become major and start affecting the efficiency of your unit. Minor problems are much more cost-efficient to resolve, so if you can avoid major repairs through regular maintenance, you can save a significant amount of money.
Preventative maintenance also helps extend the lifetime of your unit. If you care for it properly so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, your HVAC system may last as long as 20 years. Neglecting to maintain the unit will result in having to replace it more frequently.
Condenser Coil Cleanning
The condenser coil is exposed to unfiltered outdoor air, so it will accumulate dirt and debris at a fairly predictable and consistent rate from year to year. Because of this continued accumulation of dirt, annual cleaning of the condenser coils makes sense in almost all circumstances. Studies have shown that unmaintained condenser coils can decrease overall unit efficiency by 5% in 15 years and 30% in 20 years. Monitoring the cleaning and amount of dirt/debris that is removed, will quickly tell you if it is necessary to do it on an annual basis.
Evaporator Coil Cleanning
The evaporator coil is quite a bit different. Because the evaporator coil is only exposed to filtered indoor air (in most situations), the rate of dirt and debris build-up is far slower; however, the impact on efficiency and operation can be significant. An evaporator coil that is compromised by dirt and debris will inhibit both air flow and heat transfer causing a substantial reduction in temperature control and overall efficiency.
In most situations, coil cleaning is not required annually if filters are replaced regularly. It is recommended that the coils be inspected and the results logged annually to determine the most effective schedule for cleaning. Those in favor of annual evaporator cleanings (on packaged rooftop units) suggest that as long as all of the coil cleaning labor and materials are already present for condenser cleaning, then it stands to reason that the evaporator coils should be cleaned as well. If cost is not a factor, then there is no real downside to an annual evaporator cleaning schedule.
Regardless of the schedule you settle on for your equipment, keeping your coils clean is essential to the operation of your systems to maintain optimal efficiency, as well as to keep the overall comfort of the building’s occupants.
Other Maintenance Related - Checklist
When a trained service technician comes to your home to perform the maintenance check, they will do several things:
Check refrigerant levels and inspect for leaks
Clean and straighten condenser coils to ensure proper airflow
Check gas connections for leaks
Tighten all electrical connections
Lubricate all moving parts
Test the thermostat to make sure it’s cycling the system on and off properly
Check air filter