Today’s heating and AC equipment is engineered to withstand severe weather while still delivering quiet dependable comfort. In extreme temperatures, complex electronics, motors and other critical components are placed under intense stress, which can result in a lower level of performance if left unaddressed. To reduce the likelihood of an unexpected HVAC equipment malfunction, regular seasonal maintenance is essential.

A Typical HVAC Maintenance Program

Maintenance plan details vary by contractor, but they all revolve around the concept of servicing your equipment on a semiannual basis. Most plans include a contractual agreement that provides for two separate visits in the spring and fall. Dealers usually offer a variety of plan options to comfortably accommodate the customer’s budget and performance expectations. Part of the service includes an initial consultation to establish the system’s capacity, configuration and operating condition.

* Survey the Equipment: Technicians inspect the equipment and document the age, repair history and condition of each unit. A power and fuel consumption analysis that includes repair expenses can reveal the true operating cost of the equipment.

* Home Survey: Windows, doors, insulation, duct leakage and the building envelope will have a substantial impact on comfort and efficiency. Technicians identify structural deficits that inflate utility bills, and they can offer upgrade solutions to enhance performance and save money.

* Recommendations: When the data has been evaluated, the customer will be presented with a list of recommendations designed to maximize efficiency and minimize repair, maintenance and power costs.

Comprehensive Services

Those who purchase an annual maintenance agreement receive a complete system tune-up while the weather is still mild. Professional HVAC contractors dispatch NATE certified technicians with the factory training required to service every major brand of heating and air conditioning equipment. Techs are equipped with the latest diagnostic and analytic tools to quickly identify any problems that might affect system performance.

Air conditioning services include:

* Complete refrigerant charge test
* Test and inspect the condenser coil
* Test the compressor
* Clean the evaporator coil
* Exterior cabinet cleaning
* Lubricate all motors and appropriate moving parts
* Inspect and clean the condensing coil
* Check and tighten electrical connections
* Measure the temperature drop across the evaporator coil
* Inspect defrost controls, contactors and fan motor
* Inspect and adjust blower components
* Test amp draw and continuity
* Test the condensate pump if necessary
* Change the filters
* Measure voltage and amperage
* Confirm unit starting capabilities
* Clear condensate lines and clean the drain pan
* Test the thermostat and reprogram if necessary
* Air balance the registers

Furnace services include:

* Change disposable filters and clean permanent media filters
* Inspect and adjust the ignition system
* Test and adjust the burners for efficient combustion
* Inspect the heat exchanger for possible cracks
* Test and adjust the blower
* Measure the gas pressure to the unit
* Inspect the vent pipe and confirm exhaust pathway

The Benefits of Preseason Maintenance

An HVAC maintenance agreement drafted by a quality contractor can provide many benefits. In fact, regular preseason service remains the single best investment a homeowner can make in order to protect their furnace and air conditioner.

* Better Comfort: Equipment performance issues almost always impact comfort. Low refrigerant, short cycling, dirty coils, burner obstructions and ignition issues can degrade humidity control and lower the capacity of the unit. Maintenance services restore lost performance, which will help create a more comfortable indoor environment.

* Reduced Utility Costs: As part of the maintenance service, the technician will calibrate the system back to the original manufacturer’s performance specifications. A unit that is operating at full capacity will cycle less often while providing the same level of indoor comfort, which will save energy and reduce utility bills.

* Lower Repair Costs: While servicing your system, the technician will identify worn parts and expose other hidden issues before they can cause an unanticipated service disruption. Heating and AC repairs are aggravating and costly, especially when the temperature is severe and most contractors already have a full workload.

* Longer Equipment Life: When properly serviced, HVAC units will accumulate fewer runtime hours when compared to equipment that has been neglected. Dirty, worn or clogged components must work longer and harder to meet the indoor load requirements. Preventative maintenance will help alleviate the stress and wear on belts, motors and other moving parts, which can extend the useful service life of the equipment.

Improved Performance and Lower Costs

Routine maintenance plays an important role in keeping your HVAC system operating at peak performance. Always scrutinize the dealer’s maintenance plan to determine exactly what services are being provided before signing a contract. Your state’s building services department is a good place to find licensed, reputable contractors.