Doing Your Own Furnace and AC Maintenance Can Cost You

There are those of us who know how to perform furnace and AC preventive maintenance. And then there is everyone else – those who understand the importance of maintaining furnaces and air conditioners and those whose involvement ends at the thermostat. While there are YouTube tutorials and do-it-yourself guides for virtually every home improvement issue under the sun, there are some things best left to professionals.

HVAC systems are complex, sophisticated machines that require specialized maintenance. Instead of risking damage or your personal safety, it’s best to know what you should and should not do as a homeowner in terms of maintenance.

What Can I Do About My Furnace and AC?

The fact that you don’t have any professional training as a furnace and air conditioner technician doesn’t mean you should just wait until an HVAC failure happens before doing something. There are a few preventive maintenance steps that property owners can take to identify problems before they grow into serious issues, but it’s important to know the line between what’s acceptable to handle on your own and what requires professional attention. The most important element of any furnace and air conditioner maintenance plan is changing your air filter on a regular basis – every three months at a minimum. Yes, it’s true. HVAC maintenance can be as simple as a filter change most of the time. Filters are cheap, especially compared to emergency service calls. Often, the source of serious furnace and AC problems can be traced back to a dirty filter.

A dirty filter restricts the flow of air through your air system. Without proper airflow, your furnace and air conditioner work harder, components get overheated and sensitive parts fail. Isn’t it ironic that the cheapest and easiest piece of your furnace and air conditioner system to replace has the ability to bring the whole unit to a crashing halt? Seriously, simply keeping your filter clean can spare a lot of frustration and expense. Air filters are very cheap as well, so an HVAC issue may be fixable for less than $20 for some models.

If that isn’t enough to convince you to change your filters, here’s another good reason: A dirty filter could void your warranty coverage if the failure is linked to restricted airflow. Remember that some components of your furnace and AC are rather expensive to replace. You don’t want to foot that bill when a new filter runs a couple of dollars.

A dirty air filter will cause debris to fall into the drainage systems of your HVAC appliances. Over time, this will cause drained fluids to back up into your appliances, causing significant damage over time. The longer you wait to replace an air filter, the more extensive the resulting damage could be.

Know When to Call the Pros

Beyond changing your air filter, it’s best to leave the rest of preventive maintenance to your heating and cooling company. Unless you’re a qualified furnace and air conditioner technician, it’s impossible to know how to do the required maintenance. United offers routine preventive home AC and furnace maintenance, so don’t risk a major (and expensive) issue by waiting too long to call for help.

Case in point: A furnace and AC technician carries a safety device that determines whether or not the furnace burner is lit. Without these devices, homeowners could be pumping raw gas throughout the room or house before they realize it. Serious HVAC preventive maintenance can be dangerous. After all, furnace and air conditioning involves intricate systems and attempting preventive maintenance yourself could damage components otherwise covered by warranty depending on your coverage.

It’s also important to remember that HVAC equipment often contains combustible or toxic chemicals. Fuel and refrigerant chemicals are hazardous, and attempting to perform your own AC maintenance or furnace maintenance can lead to significant injuries including scalds, burns and toxic exposure. If you cause injuries to yourself while performing maintenance, you will be liable for your own injuries and may also void the warranty on the appliance.

Preventive maintenance is the best way to maintain your AC and furnace, but there are only a few checks and fixes that untrained property owners should attempt. If your situation demands more professional attention, or replacing your air filter doesn’t solve the problem, don’t risk injury or property damage by trying to fix it yourself. Leave it to the heating and cooling experts at United Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.

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