How HVAC Maintenance Requirements Vary From Season to Season
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The concept encompasses furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners but also ductwork, humidifiers, filters, exhaust fans, and so on. Each season presents its own challenges to your system, which result in different usage patterns and wear and tear. Summer, for instance, puts great stress on your air conditioner whereas, in most regions, winter will not stress that aspect of your system at all.
While HVAC maintenance covers the entire system, certain aspects will often be emphasized depending on the current season or how near you are to the next. It is helpful for homeowners to know what their systems require based on the period of the year and to be aware of the various maintenance needs that may not be linked to any one season in particular.
The Importance of Seasonal Maintenance
One of the reasons the industry works so hard to spread awareness about seasonal HVAC maintenance is that most homeowners do not schedule it and instead take a break-fix approach to their heating and cooling systems. There are a number of problems with that approach.
The first is that failure to schedule regular maintenance and to be able to show proof of maintenance, such as service receipts, will void most warranties. The second issue is that seasonal maintenance is relatively inexpensive whereas repair costs can be great and will often far surpass any savings you enjoy from not scheduling maintenance. The third issue is wear and tear. All HVAC systems experience wear and tear when used. That wear can be mitigated with routine maintenance. Otherwise, it will accumulate and thus shorten the unit lifespan.
The Toll of Seasons and Regional Differences
You use your HVAC system differently depending on the season. A furnace will be used the most during winter, and an air conditioner will be used the most during summer. Another factor is unseasonal weather. While many people in the United States do not require heating and cooling during autumn and spring, unseasonal weather can occur. Everyone has experienced a spring that got hotter faster than expected or an autumn that ushered in winter temperatures sooner than was usual.
Region is a factor as well. In regard to HVAC in the U.S., the industry generally focuses on two broad regions: North and South. Homeowners in the northern part of the country tend to use their furnaces more often and for longer periods whereas homeowners in the southern U.S. tend to use their air conditioners more often and for longer periods.
There are moving and electrical parts in furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners that experience wear and tear. How much wear and tear depends on usage. Industry statistics reveal that repair requests spike in May and October, and the month-to-month numbers differ between the northern and southern U.S. due to the earlier arrival of winter and summer temperatures, respectively. In the southern region, more than 50% of all repair requests occur between May and July. In the northern states, the majority of repair requests occur during the peak winter season, but spikes in any given month tend to be lower up north than down south.
Spring is the most important season when it comes to your cooling system. In fact, early spring is when you want to have your inspection and tune-up performed for summer. You want these services performed prior to the first usage, and it is better to schedule your service a little early rather than a little late. All it takes is a surprisingly warm day when you turn your system on and run into a problem. Spring is also a good time to clear shrubs, grass, branches, and so forth from around the exterior unit. The perimeter around the unit should be 2 to 3 feet, and clearing this space will not be included in your HVAC maintenance.
If you scheduled your tune-up in spring, then no professional service is required. This season does, however, provide a good opportunity to have the ductwork cleaned and the entire ventilation system inspected. During summer, it is common to rely entirely on mechanical ventilation for fresh air. This is also a good time of year to schedule an indoor air quality test, which can be done annually, and a home energy assessment, which should be scheduled every five years or so.
Fall is the most important season when it comes to your heating system. You want to have your inspection and tune-up completed prior to needing to use the furnace. This is particularly true with fuel-burning systems since there are additional safety and health concerns. It is also recommended that you put your furnace through about three separate test runs prior to peak usage. You may also want to have your system winterized every several years, which will involve reinsulating outside pipes and so forth.
If you schedule maintenance in autumn, then you do not require service during winter. However, this is a good time of year to focus on two particular areas: humidity and insulation. If relative humidity is too low, you will require a higher temperature to feel comfortable. This issue can be corrected with a furnace humidifier add-on or even a whole-home humidifier. You may also want to have your insulation, windows, and weatherstripping inspected. If there are issues, then correcting them will make it less expensive to heat and to cool your home and will reduce the amount of wear and tear on your system.
There is maintenance that should be performed year round as well. The chief one is filter replacement. Filters should be visually inspected every month and replaced as soon as there is visible buildup. You should also conduct a visual inspection of your entire HVAC system inside and outside the home and look for anything that seems out of the ordinary.
HVAC Maintenance Plans
The cost of HVAC maintenance varies from region to region, but it is usually inexpensive relative to the area and the cost of other home maintenance projects. You can even mitigate some of those costs with a maintenance plan or with what some companies call a maintenance program. Such plans usually include your two most important inspections – spring and autumn – and you can add tune-ups, monthly filter replacements, and many other services.
Seasonal HVAC Maintenance for Southern California
We Care Plumbing, Heating, and Air is a family-owned and -operated business that has served all of Southern California for more than 20 years. We have locations in Murrieta and Orange, and the services we offer include seasonal maintenance and tune-ups for all aspects of your home HVAC system.
Our customers can also take advantage of our We Care Club. Membership includes annual maintenance for both your heating and cooling systems and a 15% discount on any repairs or enhancements. We install and repair all types of heating and cooling systems. You can also count on us for indoor air quality services, and our team performs plumbing installations, maintenance, and repairs inside and outside the home.
Call We Care Plumbing, Heating, and Air today for further details about our services and programs!