Most homeowners spend between $174 and $32,566 nationally. Get free estimates from local hvac contractors.
One of the most important system within a home, the HVAC system includes the heating and cooling components that keep a building comfortable and well ventilated. Although HVAC repair generally requires professional assistance, consumers can save money by learning about their system and doing simple maintenance tasks.
Of course, if anything gets too complicated, feel free to connect with HVAC contractors near you!
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Select Your HVAC Project
Install a Heat Pump$5,096average cost
Install a Boiler$4,889average cost
Install an A/C Unit$4,828average cost
Repair a Geothermal Heating or Cooling System$4,167average cost
Install a Furnace$3,881average cost
Install a Whole House Air Cleaner$2,507average cost
Install a Swamp Cooler$2,343average cost
Install Central Vacuum$1,635average cost
Install Ducts & Vents$999average cost
Install an Electric Baseboard or Wall Heater$655average cost
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Install or Repair Gas Pipes$508average cost
Install a Humidifier$494average cost
Install Refrigeration System$453average cost
Repair a Radiant Heating System$443average cost
Repair a Boiler$340average cost
Repair a Whole House Air Cleaner$334average cost
Repair a Heat Pump$333average cost
Clean Ducts & Vents$330average cost
Repair an A/C Unit$310average cost
Repair Central Vacuum$304average cost
Repair a Furnace$267average cost
Get free estimates from local contractors for your hvac project.
Repair an Electric Baseboard or Wall Heater$249average cost
Service Window A/C Unit$222average cost
Repair a Humidifier$214average cost
Repair a Thermostat$193average cost
Repair a Swamp Cooler$188average cost
Install a Thermostat$174average cost
HVAC for Beginners
Some service providers may recommend repairs and maintenance tasks that are not needed. A savvy consumer who has researched how an HVAC system works and is familiar with most common maintenance tasks will quickly know the difference between necessary tasks and add-on services that drain the wallet. If a heating or cooling problem occurs, appliance service manuals typically contain troubleshooting tips and other information that may be helpful in identifying or even resolving the problem without calling a repairman. Online HVAC guides may also be helpful to a consumer who wishes to become more familiar with how an HVAC system works and potential signs of disrepair.
General HVAC Tips
One of the easiest maintenance tasks consumers can do themselves is maintaining the filters. Air filters should be inspected and cleaned once a month. This allows for regular monitoring to eventually determine when the filter needs to be replaced. Most filters can be changed every three months if no other problems exist. Maintaining clean and regularly changed filters will not only produce better air quality, but appliances will function more efficiently, which can save on heating and cooling costs.
An air conditioner that does not seem to effectively cool a room may be hindered by a dirty evaporator coil. Simply removing the front panel of the unit, locating the coil and gently cleaning the coil with a dry cloth or small brush may remedy the issue. It is important to ensure that the coil is dry before proceeding.
The condenser fan is another important HVAC element that must be maintained. Condenser fans that contain oil ports should be lubricated at least annually. The outside condenser should also be shielded from direct sunlight if possible. Keeping vegetation at least two feet away from outdoor HVAC units will also promote higher performance and potentially lower energy bills due to higher efficiency. The further away vegetation is, the better an HVAC unit will operate.
Air to Air Exchangers
Routine maintenance involves replacing or cleaning the filters if so equipped, and keeping the outside air intake free of debris. After years of service the air exchanger will become crusted with grease and dirt that collects during condensation. Removing this accumulation will probably take solvents or degreasers and require opening up the cabinet and compartments.
The coil is usually made of copper tubing with aluminum fins, but some manufacturers use aluminum tubing. Its purpose is to transfer heat as rapidly as possible. Pressure inside the coil can exceed 400 psi. during extremely warm weather conditions. The cleaner it is kept, the better it transfers heat. Rinsing with a garden hose occasionally when the unit is not running will help keep it operating efficiently. After many years of use it may be necessary to put special chemicals on to clean it.
The condenser fan moves air across the coil to increase the transfer of heat. It is critical to the system. Obstructing the flow of air will not only reduce efficiency, but can lead to compressor failure. Keep debris and objects away from the coil and fan to allow maximum air flow. Some condenser fan motors have sealed bearings, others need lubrication. Damage to the fan can occur if removed improperly. Have a qualified serviceman handle the lubricating if needed.
Furnace mounted units can be by-pass, steam, mist, wick and powered. Some mount in the ductwork while others are attached to the plenums on the furnace. Whatever the model, mineral deposits from the water will reduce the effectiveness of the humidifier. Be sure to turn the water and humidistat off before servicing.
Special chemicals can be used to clean mineral deposits, but one of the safest is vinegar. A 50% mixture of vinegar and water will usually dissolve or help clean away deposits. If the humidifier has a drum with a belt, replacement of the belt at the beginning of the heating season can be the easiest fix if the water has a high mineral content. If the humidifier has screens or is the wick type, some corrosion can occur as well as build up
Heat pumps and electric furnaces usually have steam humidifiers to increase output. They are line voltage powered and must be unplugged or disconnected before servicing to avoid injury. With the exception of some mist type humidifiers, all have a reservoir. Stagnant water sitting in the reservoir during the off season can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Turn the water off and clean the humidifier if possible when heating season has ended.
Other than mineral deposits, the most common problem is sediment in the water supply. The float inlet valve has a tiny hole that easily clogs. The float is usually made of plastic, and if cracked will fill with water and sink. The valve will be stuck open and the reservoir will overflow. Use caution when scraping deposits off the float. If the deposits cannot be removed, replace the float or it will sink and cause an overflow.
Room Air Conditioners
Not obvious is the fact that they need maintenance routinely, just like any other machine. The filter, usually located behind the front grill, needs to be washed. The condenser coil at the back of the unit can accumulate a lot of debris, and might require a special chemical bath. All air conditioning systems, large or small, need good air flow across the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. Efficiency and performance drop rapidly as air flow decreases. Lose enough air flow and the unit will burn out. Rodents can nest inside when not in use, and can foul up the unit in many ways. Wasps and hornets, as well as the honey bee find finned coils to be comfortable nesting places. Nests and dead insects can ruin the air conditioner.
Calling A Technician
When signs of serious trouble arise, it is best to call a professional HVAC technician immediately. Waiting can allow the problem to worsen, which can lead to a higher repair bill. Finding a qualified technician can be as easy as asking family, friends and neighbors for recommendations or consulting online review websites and choosing a service provider that has received a significant number of positive reviews. Consumers must verify that any professional who is hired to do HVAC repair and maintenance has been properly trained and certified. Many service providers list licensing and certification information on their website.
Last updated on May 2, 2017
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