When it comes to our HVAC systems, most of us prefer to, in the words of the legendary Ron Popeil, “set it and forget it.” They’re usually an inherited aspect of the home you didn’t choose them, but they seem to work okay, so you hope it’ll continue that way. What’s more, a lot of homeowners aren’t always exactly sure of what their systems’ components or power sources actually are, other than big metal things in the basement, attic, and backyard.
In this adventure, we invite you to go gearhead and Meet Your Home Comfort System—whether it’s your existing system that needs maintenance or a future system that you’re contemplating.
A fully functional, dependable system is important to your home’s structure, as well as your family’s personal comfort. That means your outcome is well-functioning system components programmed to deliver ideal temperature and humidity levels. Unless your favorite me-time is writing large checks to utility companies, improved efficiency should also be a major objective of your mechanical systems.
Does that mean repair or replace? In some cases, you can improve comfort and efficiency with adjustments to and ongoing maintenance of your current system. In the cases of much older systems, investing in a new system today will definitely cut your comfort costs.
HVAC Repair is Not DIY
Because heating and cooling systems are typically complicated and can be dangerous to work on, an HVAC pro or two will be coming into your life if replacement is the plan. We also recommend that annual system maintenance is done by a pro, with all the specialized diagnostic equipment they have.
In between, however, there are plenty of smaller tasks that most DIYers can take on, such as changing the filters, adjusting the vent and cleaning the components.
Heating Maintenance Counts
Maintaining your home’s HVAC system is like taking care of that fuel-burning machinery that resides in your garage. Occasional tune-ups, fluid refills, and cleaning keep it going, and neglect does just the opposite. If you aren’t doing so already, it’s time to create an HVAC care routine, which starts with knowing what kind of system you have and how best to take care of it. This is one area of home maintenance where an annual service plan is a great investment (it costs pennies compared to replacement of an entire system).
If you’re going the replacement route, you obviously want to get the highest efficiency and best comfort you can afford— calculations that not only includes upfront costs to buy and install but ongoing operating costs. That includes considering how long you plan to be in your home to reap those rewards. If you’re looking at replacing a system, we also recommend upping the investment a bit and add a whole-house air cleaning appliance. Whole house units are a better buy than the room portables advertised endlessly on TV. By the time you buy enough room purifiers to do the job, you’ll have outspent the cost of a whole house system.
The toughest part of replacing an HVAC system is understanding the equipment and trade-offs. That said, HVAC system components are not hard to understand, and nearly all major manufacturers have informative websites and glossaries to help in training for this adventure.