Whether you're in the process of buying your very first home, or you're purchasing your sixth, it's essential to become familiar with all of the systems that control various functions within your home before they ever need a repair; specifically, your HVAC system. With that in mind, today we'll discuss 8 HVAC Tips for New Homeowners.
1. Know your HVAC system
As you're conducting your home inspection, it's wise to follow along so you can learn more about the unique traits of your home and its HVAC system. For example, does your home have central air conditioning, heat pumps, mini-split systems or a boiler; and how is it fueled (electricity, oil, propane or natural gas)? As a new homeowner, knowing these details allows you to perform the preventive maintenance steps needed for your system, as well as recognize when you need to call a professional.
Other things you may want to know from either your builder or the house's disclosure form is:
HVAC systems tend to start experiencing problems after 10 to 15 years. If you're purchasing a home that is older than 10 years old, find out if (and when if applicable) they've replaced their HVAC system. If the system is original to the home, you may want to purchase a home warranty in anticipation of problems to come.
Heating and cooling systems have what is known as a 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. Find out how your system is rated.
Is your system still under warranty? What are the terms and what are the actions that might accidentally void that warranty?
Maintenance Inspection Reports (if available):
If the previous homeowner took good care of the HVAC system, they likely hired a professional to maintain that system on an annual basis. You might ask if the previous homeowner has access to the inspection reports from those checkups so you can learn about the types of issues that your system has experienced in the past as it might help you better maintain the system moving forward.
2. Change the air filters
One of the most effective, cost-efficient and simplest ways to maintain your HVAC system as a new homeowner is to change the air filters per the manufacturer's recommendations. As a general rule of thumb, change the air filters in your home every 30 days when using less expensive fiberglass filters. High-end pleated filters can last as long as 6 months, but these typical guidelines assume average use and don’t take into account the size and type of filter, so it's best to check the manufacturer's recommendations.
3. Maintain the area around your outdoor units
While landscaping's primary purpose is to make your yard look beautiful, it also helps your HVCA system perform effectively. Therefore, as a new homeowner, you should absolutely landscape your yard. However, trees, shrubs, plants and any other foliage, as well as any gardening tools, supplies, furniture and toys, should be at least 3 feet away from your outdoor HVAC units. Also, as the leaves fall, be sure to clear them away from your unit. The same would go for any snow we may have this winter.
4. Watch out for ice
While it's okay for some ice to form on your HVAC unit during the winter, be cautious if you find that larger sheets or blocks of ice are forming on your unit - or if you notice any ice forming when it warms up again. If this happens, be sure to call a professional ASAP! And, whatever you do, do not pour warm water on your HVAC unit to melt the ice. You could damage the inner workings of your system and cause a very costly repair job.
5. Don't close your vents
If you're a brand new homeowner, you may attempt to get ahead of your energy costs and try to save money where you can. While this can be smart if you know what you're doing, it can also backfire. Some homeowners have been known to close the vents in rooms that are not used often in an attempt to save money on their heating and cooling bills. Unfortunately, this will actually increase your energy costs because your HVAC system will have to work harder to maintain comfort levels in the parts of the house you use more regularly.
With that in mind, we recommend that you never block vents with furniture, books, blankets or any other object. Rather, talk to Choice HVAC about creating different zones if you want to heat or cool specific areas of your home.
6. Pay attention to your ductwork
If your new home constantly seems dusty, has inconsistent or uneven temperatures, smells musty, feels too humid or has ridiculously high energy bills, you may want to hire an expert to clean and inspect the ductwork. Any leaks in your ductwork can have a negative impact on your HVAC's performance. In fact, those leaks can send moist air into spaces that go unused such as in between walls, and potentially create mold.
7. Schedule HVAC maintenance service annually
Hire Choice HVAC to perform maintenance services on your HVAC system once a year. This annual tune-up will keep your system in optimal condition and alert you to small problems that could become major repairs. Now is a great time to schedule a maintenance check, before the weather gets too cold.
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 Choice HVAC in Garner and Wake Forest.