Congratulations on picking out your first home! You are no doubt thrilled with your investment, even though you may feel overloaded by all these new responsibilities. Now that you’re a homeowner, not the renter, it’s your job to care for all your home’s appliances and utility equipment, including the heating and cooling equipment.
If the only interaction you’ve ever come across with a furnace or air conditioner is to use the thermostat, you have a lot to learn. Get started with these HVAC system basics for first-time homeowners.
Know the Different Elements of an HVAC System
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Unless you live in an idyllic climate, your new home likely has this system to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Here are the key parts of an HVAC system:
- Comfort systems, like an air conditioner, air-source heat pump, furnace, boiler, geothermal heat pump or ductless mini-split, to name a few options.
- Ductwork connected to return and supply registers when it comes to air-forced systems including ACs, heat pumps and furnaces.
- Radiators or hot water distribution systems in the case of boilers.
- Indoor air quality products, including an air filter, whole-house humidifier, whole-house dehumidifier, air purifier or energy-recovery ventilator.
- Thermostat for indoor comfort control.
Recognize the Importance of Preventive Maintenance
When you were a renter, the landlord probably took care of HVAC maintenance tasks like replacing the air filter. They may or may not have foot the bill for thorough heating and cooling inspections.
Now that you’re responsible for this, you can offer preventive maintenance the attention it deserves. First, complete these do-it-yourself HVAC maintenance tasks:
- Change the air filter every 30 to 90 days.
- Gently hose down the outdoor unit and pare back vegetation to improve airflow.
- Keep all air registers open to maintain proper system balance.
Then, schedule annual maintenance for each HVAC unit. Only a trained professional can execute in-depth tasks like cleaning the furnace burners, recharging the AC refrigerant and gauging air leaks in the ductwork. Expect the following benefits when you hire a professional to inspect your system every year:
- Energy savings
- Fewer breakdowns
- More affordable repair bills
- Enhanced home comfort
- Expanded system life span
- Peace of mind
Watch for Signs of Trouble
Repairing and replacing the HVAC system is the homeowner’s responsibility. Watch for these signals that it’s time to contact a heating and cooling professional:
- Excess noise: Don’t ignore a whining, rattling, clanking or banging sound. It might be a cry for help from the furnace or air conditioner.
- Comfort or air quality problems: Uneven temperatures, high or low humidity, stuffy rooms and musty odors are routinely associated with defective HVAC equipment.
- Reduced energy efficiency: Are your bills unexpectedly on the rise? This can mean your heating and cooling system isn’t running right.
- Old age: Like all mechanical equipment, HVAC systems inevitably fail. The average life span of a furnace or boiler is 15 years, while air conditioners and heat pumps can live around a decade.
Understand the HVAC Replacement Process
If a damaged furnace or air conditioner can’t be restored, you’ll need to replace it with an HVAC professional's help. Here’s how it works:
- Describe the problem to the contractor and let them explore it more in-depth.
- The tech will next determine the problem and suggest possible solutions. A repair could be feasible, but depending on the unit’s condition and age, a replacement might be more cost-effective.
- You can secure various opinions and estimates from available contractors if you so choose.
- When you work with Donelson Air Service Experts, a residential sales consultant will determine what HVAC system, brand, fuel type and efficiency rating is perfect for you.
- The contractor will then compose a written estimate detailing the work required, the equipment they’ll install and the final cost. You might also be given information about warranty coverage, service plans and financing options.
- Schedule the installation once you decide what system you want. Your technician will complete everything, including hauling away the old equipment for proper disposal.
- The sales consultant should go over the new system with you, detailing how to use it, helping with any questions and offering all the needed documentation.
Call Donelson Air Service Experts
If you have questions about these HVAC system fundamentals, don’t hesitate to call Donelson Air Service Experts. We focus on customer education to help you make an informed decision about your home comfort system. Our team is experienced in a full range of HVAC services, so turn to us for anything from furnace maintenance to AC repair to heat pump installation. For more details or to ask for an estimate, please contact your local Donelson Air Service Experts office today.