When we bought our first home last year, I began to think of all the responsibilities of home owners. No landlord would take care of things now. We got to repaint, but also had to repair. We had to fix appliances. And maintain the HVAC system. Wait—what do I know about an HVAC system?
Immediately, I began asking questions, pestering my husband and father-in-law about what we needed to do with our new furnace, hot water tank, and ducts. Should we clean them? Call in a technician? In case you are wondering the same thing, here’s what every mom needs to know about her HVAC system.
What Is an HVAC System?
HVAC refers to your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system. What exactly that means for you will depend upon your home. For example, we have never had a home with an AC system. Our current home has a furnace, with various ducts and vents and air intakes. Your home may have a ductless system, hot water heating, or a fireplace.
Start by figuring out what your HVAC system includes. If you have a furnace or hot water tank, it will likely be found in a closet. If you have a furnace, then you will also have ducts to carry the hot air to each room. If you have a ductless system, it may be on the wall or ceiling.
Your Heating System
As a homeowner responsible for my HVAC system, my first question was, “How often does it need to be serviced?” Previous servicemen usually leave a sticker or card on the furnace or heater, indicating when it was last serviced. You can also mark service dates on your calendar. You should get your furnace and ducts cleaned and serviced every 2-3 years.
If you have a furnace, you should check and change the filter at least every three months. Mark it on your calendar so you don’t forget. Change filters more often if you have pets or allergies.
If you notice any problems with your heating, that can be an indication your HVAC system needs repairs. Poor indoor air quality can mean you need a new HVAC filter or duct cleaning. If your utility bills keep increasing, have your heating system checked.
Pay attention to where furniture, clothes, and other items are situated around vents and heating components. Don’t put furniture or other objects on top of vents. Always ensure that warm air can flow out of the vents and into the room.
Your Ventilation System
Because we have a furnace, we have ducts running throughout our house. When I vacuum, I often lift the cover off the ducts and vacuum the first few feet (and pick up any small toys the girls have dropped down there). You will also want to dust fan and vent covers as needed.
If you don’t have a furnace, you might not have ductwork. You may still have an exhaust vent or ventilation fans, though. In one of our homes which had electric baseboard heaters, we had a vent in the living room that went directly outside. Have this vent checked to make sure it is clean and properly adjusted for the season. If your fans are unusually noisy, have them repaired or replaced.
Your Air Conditioning System
Your AC system not only cools the air in your home, it also filters out indoor pollutants and controls humidity. Like your furnace, your AC has a filter that should be checked and changed regularly. You should also have your AC system checked and serviced at the start of each season.
What sort of HVAC system do you have? Do you know when and how to take care of it?
I received compensation for this post; all opinions expressed remain my own.