Too many homeowners forget to schedule regular professional maintenance on their residence’s heating and cooling systems. Or else they just make the mistake of concluding it’s not important. Of course, there’s no law that says you have to arrange a maintenance tune-up on your furnace or AC every year, just like there’s no law that says you have to brush your teeth every day. On the other hand, if you want your teeth to fall out, or your heating or cooling system to malfunction, then go right ahead and ignore what the professionals recommend.
The probable consequences of neglect, in the case of your HVAC system, include loss of comfort, more expensive energy bills, more breakdowns, a shorter than usual service life for the equipment, poor indoor air quality, and even increased safety risks.
Consequences of Inadequate HVAC Maintenance
Let’s take them one at a time:
Higher utility bills: When HVAC equipment isn’t cleaned, serviced and tuned up, it can attract dirt and dust, causing more friction to occur between the moving parts. This slows operation, forcing equipment such as a blower motor or condenser to work harder and longer to satisfy the temperature setting on the thermostat. Similarly, furnace burners that get blocked by soot and ash won’t burn as cleanly, which means more fuel and electricity is necessary to create the same amount of heat. Likewise, in an air conditioner, refrigerant coils that are never cleaned require more time and electricity to accomplish the crucial heat-exchange process that makes the air feel cooler. And if the most basic HVAC maintenance task – replacing dirty air filters – isn’t done regularly, your forced-air heating or cooling system will have to operate longer to force air through the clogged filter. Any of these issues related to insufficient or absent maintenance will result in sticker-shock when you look at your electric or gas bills.
Less comfort. The amount of comfort in your home also may be reduced if equipment isn’t operating as intended, which of course results from poor or absent professional and homeowner maintenance. This can happen when air takes longer to heat or cool, or when it’s not being distributed evenly throughout the home.
Increased repairs and a shorter service life. HVAC components that aren’t kept clean, lubricated, and properly tuned up will malfunction more often. They also may fail before the estimated end of their useful service life. The expense of frequent repairs, or having to replace a poorly maintained AC or furnace five years sooner than its recommended service life, can be immense. It definitely will cost far more than annual professional maintenance.
Poor air quality. An HVAC system that doesn’t receive routine air-filter maintenance can struggle to properly clean indoor air. When coils aren’t cleaned on a regular basis, they can attract toxic contaminants such as mold and bacteria, which eventually can become airborne. Your HVAC technician also is likely to notice other situations that can lead to dirty indoor air, such as dirty or leaky ductwork, furnace burners that aren’t burning cleanly, and problems with air exhaust. This brings us to the final consequence of poor HVAC maintenance, safety hazards.
Safety risks. When an HVAC system isn’t properly maintained, the homeowner him- or herself isn’t likely to notice safety hazards such as a cracked heat exchanger, venting or exhaust pipes that aren’t tightly connected, a leaky refrigerant line, or any number of other issues. Without professional maintenance, carbon monoxide and other toxic gases have a greater chance of contaminating household air.
To avoid all these issues, and instead enjoy a heating and cooling system that operates efficiently, effectively and safely, schedule professional maintenance twice yearly, once for cooling equipment and once for heating equipment. In the meantime, make sure you keep up with simple maintenance tasks such as checking the furnace or AC filter once a month and keeping vents and registers clear of furniture, rugs and other household objects.