You Won't Regret Hiring A Pro For This One Air-Improving Home Task
Gross alert: You may feel like the air in your home is clean, but in many cases, it's actually more polluted than the air outside. In addition to health concerns, indoor pollutants can wreak havoc on your HVAC system. The simplest thing you can do to prevent this is to change your air filter regularly (plus, professional HVAC equipment maintenance is also critical for detecting potential problems that could cause a breakdown). Thankfully, The Home Depot offers seasonal HVAC tuneups and annual maintenance programs to ensure your system is running safely and efficiently and is ready for the demands of the upcoming season. Following your checkup, the technician will make any recommendations related to fixing, enhancing, or preventing a future issue so your system can keep on humming.
Want to ensure the air quality in your home is as clear as it can be? Follow these steps so you can breathe a little sigh of relief.
Right now: Check the filter.
Remember the last time you changed your HVAC filter? Probably not. "You should check your filters every month for 1-inch filters, and every three months for 4-inch filters," says Viviane Essex, the National Install Merchant for HVAC systems at The Home Depot. "A dirty filter is the No. 1 reason for a breakdown for both the heating and cooling systems." Why? Air filters trap all the dust, pet hair, and airborne particles circulating in your home. If it's not changed often enough, the airflow through your system becomes restricted and can ultimately cause a breakdown. Think of how a hairdryer clogged with lint can result in burning out its motor. Plus, as filters become clogged, your air conditioning and heating have to work harder to push the air through, taxing the equipment and causing it to operate less efficiently and ultimately increase utility costs.
When you're shopping for a filter, pay attention to the ratings—the higher the rating, the more and smaller particles that it can trap (for example, some highly rated filters can trap smoke and virus particles), Essex explains. So you never forget to change your filters again, sign up for The Home Depot's convenient air filter subscription service and get free delivery—plus, they have the pros you need to evaluate your system's health and work on any necessary tuneups, all at your fingertips.
What's next? Schedule a maintenance appointment.
Just like your car needs a tuneup after hitting a certain mileage marker, so does your HVAC system. Essex recommends bringing in a certified professional to check your air conditioner in the spring and heater in the fall. (Typically, it's best to do this at the beginning of each heating and cooling season so your system works smoothly before the weather turns and you really need it.) A locally licensed HVAC service provider backed by The Home Depot can check voltage, refrigerant levels, airflow, and other critical measurements. "These visits verify that your system is running safely and efficiently and are primarily preventive, but experts can find things that are starting to degrade so you can fix them before they become a real problem," Essex says. By keeping your system operating at its best, you'll ensure that your family is comfortable year-round while also saving on energy costs.
Going forward: Be aware of any warning signs.
Knowing what to look for when there's a problem with your HVAC system can help you avoid costly repairs (or having to replace the unit entirely) by fixing small issues before they become big ones. "If your system is either constantly running or constantly turning on and off, if it's making funny noises, if it smells funny, if your thermostat has a difficult time maintaining the set temperature, or if it's just not keeping you comfortable—these can be warning signs of degrading performance or a potential breakdown," Essex says. You may also need repairs if you notice excessive water around the outdoor or indoor unit or if your energy bills are higher than usual. To keep the system running properly, make sure nothing is impeding airflow around the outside unit and all inside air vents are open and not blocked by furniture, rugs, or other items.
If necessary, consider a replacement.
While most people want to keep their existing system for as long as possible (it's common to wait until it ultimately breaks down) preemptively upgrading to a new high-energy-efficient heating and air conditioning system can deliver significant savings on your energy bills and ultimately pay for itself over time. As your unit ages, its efficiency decreases (most systems have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years). Knowing when it's time for a change can be a matter of repairs. "When you start to need repairs every year, it's time to trade things in," Essex says. And as a general guideline: If the cost of the repair times the age of the unit is more than $5,000, it's time for it to go. Home Services from The Home Depot offers free consultations where they'll review your current system, your concerns, and your budget to provide you with options to meet your needs, as well as several financing options, including both deferred financing and low-monthly-payment options.
For more services to help you maintain your living space, visit Home Services at The Home Depot here.
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Jennifer Tzeses is a freelance writer who covers home, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and wellness. She received her Masters degree in journalism from New York University and has appeared as an on-air expert for WCBS and WNBC. Her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, Wired, Saveur, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, ELLE, Barron's, and more. She currently resides in New York.