HVAC System Basics for New Homeowners

Congratulations on buying your first home! You are undoubtedly thrilled with your investment, though you may feel overwhelmed by all your new responsibilities. Now that you’re the owner, not the renter, it’s your job to take care of all your home’s appliances and systems, including the heating and cooling equipment.

If the only interaction you’ve ever had with a furnace or air conditioner is to adjust the thermostat, you have a lot to learn. Get a head start with these HVAC system basics for new homeowners.

Know the Parts of an HVAC System

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Unless you live in an idyllic climate, your new home probably has this system to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Here are the basic parts of an HVAC system:

  • Comfort units, such as an air conditioner, air-source heat pump, furnace, boiler, geothermal heat pump or ductless mini-split, to name a few possibilities.
  • Ductwork attached to return and supply registers in the case of air-forced systems like ACs, heat pumps and furnaces.
  • Radiators or hot water distribution systems in the case of boilers.
  • Indoor air quality solutions, 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 rented, your 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 in charge, you can give preventive maintenance the attention it deserves. First, prioritize these do-it-yourself HVAC maintenance tasks:

  • Change the air filter every 30 to 90 days.
  • Gently hose down the outdoor unit and trim back vegetation to improve airflow.
  • Keep all air registers open to maintain proper system balance.

Then, schedule yearly maintenance for each HVAC unit. Only a trained professional can perform in-depth tasks like cleaning the furnace burners, recharging the AC refrigerant and measuring air leaks in the ductwork. Expect the following benefits when you hire a professional to inspect your system once a year:

  • Energy savings
  • Fewer breakdowns
  • Lower repair bills
  • Improved home comfort
  • Longer system life span
  • Peace of mind

Watch for Signs of Trouble

Repairing and replacing the HVAC system is the homeowner’s job. Watch for these signs that it’s time to call a heating and cooling contractor:

  • Excessive noise: Don’t ignore a squealing, rattling, clanking or banging sound. It could be a cry for help from your furnace or air conditioner.
  • Comfort or air quality issues: Uneven temperatures, high or low humidity, stuffy rooms and musty odors are often tied to malfunctioning HVAC equipment.
  • Poor energy efficiency: Are your bills mysteriously on the rise? This might mean your heating and cooling system isn’t working right.
  • Old age: Like all mechanical equipment, HVAC systems eventually wear out. The average life span of a furnace or boiler is 15 years, while air conditioners and heat pumps last about a decade.

Understand the HVAC Replacement Process

If your finicky furnace or air conditioner can’t be repaired, you’ll need to replace it with an HVAC contractor’s help. Here’s how it works:

  • Describe the problem to your technician and let them explore it more in-depth.
  • The technician will diagnose the problem and offer possible solutions. A repair may be feasible, but depending on the unit’s condition and age, a replacement may be more cost-effective.
  • You can obtain multiple opinions and estimates from different contractors if you want.
  • When you work with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, a residential sales consultant will go over what HVAC system, brand, fuel type and efficiency rating is best for you.
  • The technician will provide a written estimate detailing the work required, the equipment they’ll install and the total price. You may also receive information about warranty coverage, service plans and financing options.
  • Schedule the installation once you decide what system you want. Your technician will take care of everything, including hauling away the old equipment for proper disposal.
  • The sales consultant will go over the new system with you, explaining how to use it, answering any questions and giving you all the necessary documentation.

Call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing

If you have questions about these HVAC system basics, don’t hesitate Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We emphasize customer education to help you make an educated decision about your home comfort system. Our team is well-versed in a full range of HVAC services, so turn to us for everything from furnace maintenance to AC repair to heat pump installation. For more information or to request an estimate, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.

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