As a general rule, the better you take care of something, the longer it will last. This is especially true of your HVAC system with its average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Although changing the air filter every three months and removing plant growth around the outdoor unit can increase the likelihood of your system’s longevity, there are some situations that require professional attention.
1. Overdue Inspection
An annual maintenance visit is not only recommended but required as part of the manufacturer’s warranty agreement on most brands. Scheduling twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, is even preferable as a preventable measure against unexpected downtime during the summer and winter months. During a visit, the HVAC Technician will inspect mechanical components for signs of wear or damage, change out the filters, clean components, check for obstructions in air flow, and recommend any additional repairs.
2. Aging HVAC System
Sometimes the long-term benefits of replacement can outweigh the short-term fix of the moment. If your HVAC system is decrepit or outdated, it may be more cost-efficient to have a new system installed. Should your older unit irreversibly fail during an unexpected heat wave or cold front, you could be paying for a hotel stay alongside the unanticipated cost of replacement. Moreover, the refrigerant in older systems is being phased out and therefore they are much more expensive to recharge.
3. Old Gas Furnace
An old gas furnace can be a catastrophe if not maintained properly. Bad valves can leak gas into your home and a cracked heat exchanger may release carbon monoxide. Depending on the condition and age of your gas furnace, modernizing your home with a packaged HVAC system may be more frugal than retrofitting or replacement.
4. Ice on the Air Condenser
If you notice ice on the air condenser, this could be as simple as needing to change the air filter. However, more serious issues like low refrigerant or a clogged condensate line could be the culprit. If your unit continues to run despite having reached target temperature, this will also cause icing but could mean your thermostat is in need of repair.
5. Strange Noises
For the most part, the only noise you should hear from a properly working HVAC system is the gentle drone of the fan. Loud humming, squeals, squeaks, and grinding are not good sounds and could mean a component is damaged or about to break.
6. Strange Lingering Odor
In the wintertime, some HVAC systems emit a “burning” odor briefly at startup that disappears after a moment. A lingering scent of burnt metal or plastic should be immediately addressed by turning off your system and calling in a technician to investigate, as this could be a precursor to an electrical fire. Equally concerning is if there’s a lasting “burnt rodent smell,” as this could mean a small animal has wedged itself into a heating component where its presence could cause further detriment.
If you have a concern about your HVAC system, never hesitate to call a technician. A few minutes on the phone could possibly save a few hundred dollars in repairs.