With the way we take a home's heating and cooling systems for granted, it's easy to think that because you press a button and air flows, everything is working as it should. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. Just like a car that doesn't get the regular tune-ups and other maintenance it needs, your heating and cooling system can end up being ineffective as well as unsafe in the absence of steady, careful attention and maintenance.

Consider the following scenarios and if any sound familiar, hop on the heating and cooling system maintenance bandwagon as soon as possible. Better yet, prevent them in the first place with a dedicated maintenance plan.

Heating and cooling system maintenanceCommon HVAC complaints

  • Rooms are too hot or too cold: Poor duct design and sealing are often the culprits here. In a perfect world, it would be possible to design rooms with completely balanced temperature distribution, but we're living in one where geography and construction demands make for challenges in system design. That being the case, inspect your ductwork and seal any leaks, and add insulation to improve comfort for more predictable room-to-room temperatures.
  • Excessive dust or humidity problems: heating and cooling equipment that doesn't match in size or on its last legs can create some pretty undesirable environmental features in a home. Assess replacement possibilities with the EnergyStar label in mind, change filters regularly, and, again, ensure that ducts are properly sealed.
  • Your cooling system regularly makes a racket: Either your duct system is improperly sized, or there's an issue with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment. Both of these will require the help of an HVAC contractor.
  • Equipment repair bills and monthly energy costs are piling up: The age and condition of heating and cooling equipment are inversely related to the efficiency of its output, so if the former are rising while the latter is falling, it's definitely time to start shopping for new system components.

Your heating and cooling system maintenance checklist.  Heating and cooling system maintenance is the best way to stay out of the HVAC troubleshooting game and keep your home comfortable year-round. Incorporate the following tips from EnergyStar into your home care routine:

Annual pre-season heating and cooling system check-up from an HVAC contractor

  • Thermostat settings checked to ensure comfort levels are maintained when you're home and energy is saved when you're away
  • All electrical connections are tightened, and motor voltage and current are measured
  • Lubrication of all moving parts for better operation and reduced electricity use
  • Inspection of condensate drain in central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump, and removal of clogs
  • Controls checked for proper and safe operation, including starting cycle, in-service operation, and shutdown

Cooling-specific additions

  • Cleaning of evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils
  • Check and adjustment of air conditioner refrigerant levels
  • Cleaning and adjustment of blower components

Heating-specific addition

  • Check of all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger to prevent fire hazards and health problems related to air quality

Heating and cooling system maintenance to do on your own

  • Stay on top of filter maintenance, being sure to inspect, clean or change filters in your heating and cooling system once a month. Better yet, invest in a whole home electronic air cleaner that works 24/7 to scrub dust, virus-sized particles and other contaminants from all the air in your home.

With regular heating and cooling system maintenance, your system will run efficiently last a long time, saving you money every single year.