HVAC systems are complex; they have electrical, mechanical, and electronic components that must work together in harmony. Many people neglect their HVAC systems, they are not well maintained, and this has negative consequences. For this reason, smart homeowners invest in regular maintenance, but when you look at this topic, the terms maintenance and servicing are used in an interchangeable manner. In this article, we will explain the difference and explore the benefits of regular maintenance in more detail.

What is the Difference Between HVAC Servicing and Maintenance?

When heating and cooling specialists talk about an HVAC service, they are referring to certain repairs that are required. HVAC maintenance refers to preventative measures that can be undertaken to improve performance, energy efficiency, and even the lifespan of the system.

An easier way to explain the differences is to use the analogy of car ownership:

If you heard a strange noise emanating from your engine or it started to act in an unusual manner, you would take the car to a mechanic for servicing. The mechanic would investigate the problems and fix them for you. After the repair, they would inform you about future potential problems that are related to this problem they repaired.

Car maintenance is very different, there may be nothing unusual about your car, but you regularly take it to a mechanic to get it checked out. The mechanic may rotate the tires, change the oil, check the battery and perform other tasks to ensure that the car is running well. Regular car maintenance will improve performance, fuel efficiency, and the useful lifespan of the vehicle.

As you can see, these are two very different approaches, and the old adage that prevention is better than the cure is applicable. In our car analogy, the strange behavior and unusual noises that indicated a problem might have been detected much earlier with regular maintenance.

What is the Impact of Regular Preventative Maintenance?

Modern heating and cooling equipment that is built to an above average standard tend to have a lifespan of 10-15 years. During the entire useful lifespan of the systems, they will lose performance and energy efficiency. With regular preventative maintenance, the lifespan is more likely to be at the upper end of the estimated figures. Also, a great deal of the performance and efficiency losses will be avoided. So, regular maintenance will keep the HVAC system performing at above optimal energy efficiency for longer.

What are the Signs That HVAC Maintenance is Needed?

An HVAC system is a complex series of components that need to work together in harmony to cool or heat the home. When one part is failing, or it stops working entirely, it will usually affect nearby parts, and there will be a lack of performance and energy efficiency. Making a professional HVAC assessment is beyond the scope of people, even if they have good DIY skills. A good HVAC technician has formal training, specialized tools, and years of experience in finding faults and fixing them quickly. Let’s take a look at four common warning signs and what they may indicate:

1.   Strange Noises

If you can hear grinding, buzzing, and rattling noises when the HVAC system is running, there is probably a mechanical issue to solve. The noises are usually components that have worked loose, and they are moving against the housing or other parts. A prime example is a blower unit fan that’s not aligned correctly. An early fix is recommended because these problems only get worse as time passes.

2.   Odd Odors

If you can smell a burning odor, the problem is likely to be an electrical wiring issue or a component that has burnt out. A moldy or musty odor may indicate the presence of mold in the HVAC system or ductwork. The mold spores are circulated throughout the home, and they are a health hazard.

3.   High Utility Bills

Tracking utility bills is a good way to identify a number of potential problems in your home. We expect utility bills to be higher in the summer and winter months. But, when the bills are too high, or they rise rapidly, something is wrong. When the HVAC system ages or it’s poorly maintained, it will lose energy efficiency rapidly, and this drives up energy bills.

4.   A Lack of Treated Air

If you cannot feel the warm or cool air at the vent, there may be an airflow problem, or the system is not operating properly. There may be an easy fix, check the thermostat to ensure that the correct temperature is set for the current season. When seasons change, many people forget to make the adjustment, and this affects the performance. Check the thermostat battery and sensor too; when the power is failing, or the sensor is dusty, the performance will suffer. If the airflow is the problem, the cause may be a malfunctioning blower unit or clogged ductwork.

What Happens During Professional HVAC Maintenance?

During a routine HVAC maintenance visit, the technician will check a number of components to determine if they are working as intended, including:

  1. The coils, drains, and heating elements are thoroughly cleaned.
  2. All safety controls are checked and tested.
  3. Any moving parts are lubricated to ensure that they run smoothly.
  4. The refrigerant pressure is checked and recharged as needed.
  5. The functionality of the thermostat, blower motor, compressor, and all electrical connections is inspected.

When is HVAC Maintenance Needed?

The heating and cooling systems should be maintained twice per year. The air conditioner should be checked before summer and the heating system before winter. The best times are spring and fall before those systems are needed. When the heating and cooling systems are needed, there is an increased demand for HVAC technicians. This occurs when homeowners turn on their systems for the first time in months, and they realize that they are not working. To avoid disappointment, join an HVAC maintenance program, and you will get a reminder and a discount on the maintenance costs.

If you want to schedule essential maintenance for your HVAC system, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.