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5 Spring Cleaning HVAC Tips

Keep your HVAC system in top shape this spring with our expert cleaning tips. Improve indoor air quality and extend the life of your HVAC unit. Learn more from Trane experts.

April 17, 2023

Spring marks a great time to schedule regular maintenance with a professional HVAC technician. As the season approaches, homeowners across the country are gearing up for their annual cleaning rituals. While many focus on decluttering and deep cleaning their homes, it's important not to overlook one of the most critical components of a comfortable and healthy home - the HVAC system. 

Properly maintaining your HVAC system can help keep your home cool and comfortable during the warm months ahead, while also preventing costly breakdowns and repairs. In this article, we'll provide you with spring cleaning HVAC tips that you can tackle yourself to keep your system running smoothly. We'll also discuss when it's time to call in a professional technician to ensure your system is working at its best.

Tip 1: Clean Your Air Filter and Clear Debris

One of the simplest and most effective things homeowners can do to maintain their HVAC systems is to regularly clean the air filters and clear away debris from outdoor units. Dirty air filters can restrict airflow, causing your system to work harder and consume more energy, while also reducing indoor air quality. Similarly, debris buildup around outdoor units can restrict airflow, reducing efficiency and potentially causing damage to the unit.

Clean air filter: To clean your air filters, start by turning off your HVAC system to prevent debris from being sucked into the unit. Locate the air filter inside the indoor unit and remove it from its housing. Depending on the type of filter you have, you can either vacuum it or replace it with a new one. If you're unsure which type of filter you have, consult your system's manual or contact a professional.

Clear debris from outdoor systems: To maintain your outdoor unit, it's important to keep vegetation at a safe distance. Aim to keep plants, shrubs, and other objects at least 18 inches away from the unit to prevent debris buildup and ensure proper airflow. You can also trim any nearby branches or vines that may be encroaching on the unit.

Tip 2: Look for Leaks

Leaky ductwork, evaporator coils, or cabinets can significantly reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system, leading to higher energy bills and poor indoor air quality. To identify potential leaks, start by inspecting the ductwork and cabinets for visible signs of damage, such as holes or gaps.

Another way to identify potential leaks is to conduct a visual inspection of the ductwork and cabinets. Check for any disconnected joints or gaps in the seams, which can indicate a leak. You should also look for water stains or mold growth, which can be a sign of a leak in the evaporator coil.

If you detect any leaks, it's important to address them promptly to prevent further damage and improve your system's efficiency. Contact a professional HVAC technician to inspect the system and provide a more permanent solution. 

The HVAC expert may recommend sealing the leak with professional-grade materials, or replacing damaged components if necessary. In some cases, they may also recommend upgrading your system to a more efficient model. Whatever the solution, addressing leaks promptly can save you money in the long run by improving your system's efficiency and reducing energy bills.

Tip 3: Keep Your Ears Open

When your HVAC system starts up, it should operate quietly and smoothly. Any strange or unusual noises could indicate a problem. Careful listening can help you catch potential issues before they become major problems.

Strange noises from your HVAC system could indicate a variety of issues. For example, a banging or clanking sound could indicate a loose or broken part, while a squealing or screeching noise could be a sign of a worn or faulty belt. A grinding noise could indicate a problem with the motor bearings or fan blades. Any hissing or popping sounds could indicate a refrigerant leak, which can be dangerous and should be addressed immediately.

If you hear any strange or unusual noises from your HVAC system, it's important to take action promptly. Start by turning off the system and inspecting it for any obvious signs of damage or wear. If you don't see anything obvious, contact a professional technician to inspect the system and identify the source of the noise. A trained technician can diagnose the issue and recommend the best course of action, whether that's a simple repair or a more complex replacement. By addressing strange noises promptly, you can prevent further damage to your system and ensure that it continues to operate safely and efficiently.

Tip 4: Perform a Smell Test

Performing a simple smell test can help you identify potential problems and take action to address them. There are a variety of issues that can cause unusual odors from your HVAC system. For example, a musty smell could indicate mold growth in the system or ductwork, while a burning smell could indicate an electrical issue with the system. A rotten egg smell could indicate a natural gas leak, which can be extremely dangerous and should be addressed immediately. 

If you detect any unusual or suspicious odors from your HVAC system, it's important to take action promptly. Start by turning off the system and inspecting it for any obvious signs of damage or wear. If you don't see anything obvious, call a professional technician to inspect the system and identify the source of the odor. A trained HVAC technician can diagnose the issue and recommend the best course of action, whether that's a simple repair or a more complex replacement. 

Tip 5: Make Sure Your Vents are Clear

Proper airflow is essential for maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of your HVAC system. If your supply and return vents are blocked, your system may have to work harder to circulate air, leading to reduced efficiency and potentially costly repairs. 

To maintain clear vents, start by vacuuming or dusting around the vent covers to remove any buildup. It's also important to keep furniture, rugs, and other objects away from the vents to prevent blockages. Consider using vent covers to protect your vents from dust and debris while allowing airflow. Finally, if you have pets, be sure to clean or replace your air filters more frequently to prevent pet hair and dander from clogging your system.

If checking air filters, vacuuming around the vent covers, and removing any furniture or objects restricting air flow doesn't solve the problem, consider calling a professional technician to inspect your system and identify any underlying issues. They may recommend cleaning your ductwork or replacing damaged components to improve airflow and prevent future blockages.

Schedule Seasonal Maintenance With a Professional Technician

While there are many maintenance tasks homeowners can perform themselves, there are also some situations where it's important to call in a professional technician. Technicians have the expertise and equipment needed to diagnose and repair complex issues with your HVAC system, ensuring that it operates safely and efficiently.

If you notice that your energy bills are increasing but your usage hasn't changed, it could indicate that your system is not operating efficiently. Similarly, if you experience inconsistent temperatures throughout your home, it may be a sign of an issue with your HVAC system. Damaged unit fins can also cause issues with airflow and reduce the efficiency of your system. If you notice any of these issues, it's important to call a technician to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action.

Certain issues in particular should only ever be handled by a professional technician, such as water damage or electrical burning. Excessive water, such as from a flood, can seriously damage your unit's electrical systems, which can be potentially life-threatening. If you suspect that your unit has water damage, do not attempt to resolve the issue yourself. Similarly, if you smell electrical burning, turn off your unit immediately and contact a technician. A burning smell could mean your unit is experiencing a malfunction or electrical issue requiring professional attention. 

Final Thoughts

Proper HVAC system maintenance is critical to ensuring a comfortable and healthy home. By performing routine maintenance tasks and addressing issues promptly, you can prevent costly breakdowns and repairs, while also improving the efficiency and longevity of your system.

If you need professional assistance with maintaining your HVAC system, Trane is here to help. Our experienced technicians can perform routine maintenance tasks and address complex issues, ensuring that your system operates safely and efficiently. Don't wait until you have a major issue - schedule maintenance service with Trane today to keep your system running smoothly for years to come.

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