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The spring HVAC maintenance checklist you must check off

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Even though March and April moved at a snail's pace, the blustering hot days of summer will be here before you know it. Unfortunately, it may take a while for your HVAC maintenance professional to complete the annual spring maintenance to your unit with the current stay-at-home orders. So here at vipHomeLink, we want to help you stay cool while you're staying home with this short checklist of HVAC maintenance you can do yourself!

1. Clean your air filters 

Replace your air filters as needed.

This super important task that cannot be overlooked. Not only do clean air filters help to keep you healthier (by trapping dust, mold spores, pollen, etc.) but it also keeps your unit running more efficiently, costing you less money in utility bills. Refer to your manual to find the type of filters you have (and order them online) and the frequency in which they need to be changed. Some units require a cleaning/replacing of filters as routinely as every month, others every season, and some even annually. Your filter might also be one that can be cleaned, so you'll need to wash it the recommended amount.

2. Trim the area around your unit 

Trim away any tall grass or tree branches from the unit.

Air conditioners need air to function. (Mind-blowing, right?) With any outdoor units (even the one hanging from your window), you need to clear the immediate area. Two feet is the rule of thumb. Trim any tree branches, cut the grass, weed whack those tall strands around the unit's base. Also, keep up with this maintenance to ensure your air conditioner continues to work efficiently throughout the summer months.

3. Clear a clogged condensate drain line

Locate your condensate drain.

HVAC units need to drain the water in order to run efficiency (and safely). Any clogs in the drainage areas can damage your unit and prevent it from keeping your home cool. Clearing the condensate drain line is a simple procedure that first requires you to turn off your system (if it's on) both at the thermostat and at the breaker. (Learn more about circuit breakers in How to tackle the 5 most common electrical hazards at home.)

Then, find the AC condensate pan, which may be under the unit and/or behind an access panel. If you find any standing water in the pan, you mostly likely have a clog (and will need clean the pan). Locate your drain's opening outside your home (near the foundation) and using a wet/dry "shop" vacuum, attempt to remove the clog. (If you don't have this type of vacuum, see if you can use some tubing or a plumbing snake. If you're unable to find your opening, you can try also try to start at the drain pan.) When in doubt, contact a professional.

If you're able to unclog the drain (go you!), then find the vent cover near the pan's location point. Remove the cover, inspect and then flush the drain. You can use distilled vinegar or dish soap and water, letting the concoction sit for about a half an hour. When done, flush the system one more time with water. 

4. Turn on your air conditioner

Check your system to make sure it still works.

Before the heat arrives, you want to make sure you're ready for it. Once you've cleared the area around the unit, changed or cleaned the filters, and checked the condensate drain, flip on that switch and see how your HVAC fares. If it doesn't work, makes dripping sounds, or thumping or screeching noises, turn it off and contact your professional immediately. This way, when they start making service calls again, you'll already be on their list.

5. Schedule your appointment with your HVAC technician

Make an appointment to have your unit serviced by a professional.

We just said to do this in case of a malfunction, but unless you are a home improvement guru on the side, there are some HVAC maintenance tasks you should leave up to the professionals. These may include:

  • Replacing any worn parts, including belts and connections.
  • Testing for any leaks in the ducts.
  • Clearing debris you weren't able to reach in the drainage areas.
  • Inspecting the system, including the compressor and motor.
  • Cleaning the system's coils.
  • Unclogging and flushing the system (if you were unable).

After your service professional looks over your unit, you can wait for the warm temperatures to roll in and enjoy the summer heat. 

Additional recommendations

Upgrade your thermostat.

Install a programmable thermostat: If you're late to the smart home revolution and haven't installed a programmable thermostat, this year may be the time to do so. This device allows you to set your home or areas of your home to certain temperatures, saving you money and preventing your unit from working overtime. (Upgrade to a Google Nest thermostat to integrate your HVAC system into your smart home hub.)

Look for a summer setting on your unit: Some units recommend shutting off the water supply to the humidifier when using the air conditioner moisture creates a dangerous environment near the coils. Check your manual to see if this is an option/setting on your unit.

Have a professional inspect the refrigerant line.

Complete HVAC maintenance to your unit: Why is HVAC maintenance so important? Most warranties require you to perform regular maintenance to your unit or you'll lose your warranty. So keep on top of these maintenance tasks, schedule a servicing (annually or bi-annually – when a pandemic isn't occurring), and read up on your manual for instructions (which you can store conveniently in the vipHomeLink app!)

Summer is right around the corner, and this routine maintenance checklist will help get your home ready for warmer weather. Also, make sure to cross off these essential spring home maintenance tips. Find additional ways to prepare your home for summer (especially while you're home with social distancing) in our vipTIPs, exclusive to members. Not a member? Get three months on us right now. Click on the banner below to redeem! 



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