Having no heat in winter and no cool air in summer can be very miserable. Most of us will opt into waiting to get someone to come check their HVAC system. Others will decide to conduct an inspection even though they don’t know what to look for. This can be dangerous as you might damage the HVAC unknowingly. However, doing a DIY HVAC inspection isn’t much of a deal if you know where to look and what to do. To make it safe and productive, here are a few things you should be looking for when conducting an HVAC inspection as part of your home inspections routine.
1. Start with the Thermostat
Most times, an inspection starts with turning off the power to the unit under inspection. However, if you have decided to check your HVAC unit, it could mean that something isn’t working as it should. You will want to begin by making sure the thermostat is functioning properly. That means checking whether the unit’s heating and cooling mechanisms start and can turn off properly from the thermostat.
2. Shut off the Power
The inspection may require you to open up some parts of the HVAC unit. Nonetheless, you don’t want to be an electrocution victim. Once you have checked the thermostat functionality, shutting off the power supply to the system is the first thing you do before anything else. Find the breaker box and turn the power off. This ensures your safety as you continue with your inspection.
3. Check Your Air Filters
The air filter is among the most important parts of the HVAC system. It prevents one from breathing in allergens while also protecting the equipment from accumulating dust and other kinds of debris. Proper working of the air filters is vital in the general functioning of the system. The environmental protection agency (EPA) advises that HVAC system air filters be checked every month and replaced when deemed necessary. Specifically, the agency also recommends that the filter be replaced every three months for the owners’ health and the proper working of the system. To clean the air filters, use a hose and spray the fins from the unit’s inside. Using a pressure washer is not advisable since it is too powerful, and may end up damaging the unit.
4. Clean and Repair the Fins
The fins are often dirty, depending on your immediate environment. For the HVAC system’s efficiency, you need to ensure the fins are free from any sort of debris that may hinder their proper working. Depending on how dirty the fins are, you can choose to use a sprayer hose or dash to the nearest local store and get a fin-cleaning spray. Do not use any pressure washer as it could cause damage to the unit due to its high power. After cleaning, you have to make sure the fins allow proper airflow into the unit. This means making sure the fins are straightened to ensure the free flow of air.
5. Scrutinize the Air Ducts
Over time, the air ducts tend to develop leaks, which often impede the system’s energy efficiency by about 25 percent. If these leaks are progressive, your unit ends up utilizing too much power while at the same time displaying poor performance. When conducting an inspection, it is crucial to check these ducts to ensure your HVAC system is utilizing the right amount of power and delivering the right output. In case you notice some leak in the ducts, sealing and insulating them is advisable. This ensures your HVAC system performance is top-notch and energy-efficient.
6. Check and Clean the Evaporator Coil
HVAC inspection also involves checking to see if the evaporator coil is dirty. To clean the evaporator coil, you will need to open the evaporator coil door. Start by giving it a proper dusting. You can scrub it a bit to get rid of the removable dust residue. It is advisable to use the commercially available no-rinse coil cleaner. Alternatively, you can mix some warm water and detergent in a spray bottle and use it to clean the coils.
Whatever you decide to use, give it a few minutes to soak and loosen the debris in the evaporator coil. You can always reapply the cleaner or your homemade detergent until you feel satisfied with the results. If you use the commercial cleaner, clean it out using warm water, soap, and some bleach.
7. Inspect the Evaporator Drain
Before winding up on your inspection, you should also take a look at the evaporator drain. At times it might be clogged and may lead to flooding or other issues. Cleaning this part is more efficient when you use a wet/dry vacuum. It allows you to suck out any debris in the drain and unblock the clogged parts, allowing easy runoff water flow.
8. Clear the Area around the Unit
It is advisable to check the position of your unit. Over time, the HVAC unit tends to shift position from where you place it initially. Therefore, ensure that it is in a place away from shrubs, trees, and vegetation. That way, you minimize the probability of sucking up leaves and other debris from the surrounding area. During winter, make sure there is a covering above the unit to protect it from snow and falling debris. Do not, however, cover the unit itself. Just make sure that the falling debris does not get to it.
9. Consider Replacement
Repairs are usually meant to keep your HVAC system serving you for longer. However, with time, you may notice that the repairs have become too much, and the unit’s performance is deteriorating. At this point, additional repairs can turn out to be costlier than getting a new unit. Furthermore, newer HVAC models are far more efficient compared to the outdated ones. They have better performance, and their maintenance is far less costly. So, if your system is constantly failing you, it could be time to get a replacement.
HVAC systems are among the most important parts of a property. They require an inspection from time to time to ensure they are running effectively and efficiently. When selling or buying a home, the HVAC system is among the first things that need a thorough inspection. They are a huge investment and they should be treated as so at all times.