The Ultimate DIY Guide for HVAC Maintenance

Have you noticed that your home’s air conditioning unit doesn’t seem to be running as efficiently as usual recently?

Have your heating and electric bills skyrocketed in the past month?

Are you interested in saving money on expensive HVAC repair services by increasing the length between professional tune-ups?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you need to read this post.

In it, we’re telling you everything you need to know about DIY HVAC maintenance.

Save money, keep your family safe, and ensure that your HVAC units run as efficiently as possible by trying out the following home HVAC hacks.

Then, learn where you can go to get more DIY home maintenance advice.

Switch Out Your Filters

The most important part of DIY HVAC maintenance?

Making sure that you clean and switch out your filters regularly.

For best results, we suggest switching out your filters about once every two months. However, be aware that if you live in a home with lots of pets, or if anyone in your home has a weak immune system (or is elderly) you may need to change your filter once a month.

Not only will frequently cleaning and changing your filter improve your home’s air quality. Doing so will also ensure that you’re able to keep your heating/cooling/electric bills down every month.

After all, when your HVAC unit is clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris, it will have to use up more energy in order to keep the temperature of your home consistent.

To properly clean your filter, you can use a small handheld vacuum, warm water and a paper towel, or even a mixture of baking soda and water. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be gentle when cleaning, as filters are delicate.

So, running it through a cycle in your dishwasher isn’t a good HVAC maintenance plan.

What kind of filter should you purchase when it’s time for a change?

Look for energy-efficient options that carry an electrostatic charge for best results.

Check Out The Fins

Another important step in your DIY HVAC maintenance routine?

Make sure that you’re taking a hard look at the fins within your outdoor unit. We’ll show you how to tackle this below.

Before You Start, Safety First!

First of all, before you do any work on your HVAC unit, make sure that the power is turned off completely.

You can do this by both turning off your breaker box indoors and making sure that you’ve turned off the system in your exterior compressor.

If anyone else is home with you when you’re performing HVAC maintenance, be sure that they’re aware of the fact that they need to keep the units off completely until you’re finished.

Cleaning Your Unit’s Fins

To clean your fins, first, take off the fan cage on your exterior compressor with a screwdriver.

This will also give you the opportunity to remove any larger pieces of debris with a vacuum.

When you’re ready to start tackling the fins (the small, cage-like bars on the inside and the outside of your unit)?

First, start by taking off your unit’s outer covers. Using a handheld vacuum, or a larger vacuum with a hose attachment, get rid of as much debris as possible.

If you have a garden hose, aim it at the interior of your unit. Without using too much pressure, gently hose the inside of the unit down. This will push any debris that’s been trapped inside to the outside, making for a much easier cleanup.

Remember, if you spray too hard, you’ll do serious damage to your find, and they’ll no longer function properly. As satisfying as it might be, avoid cleaning with a pressure washer at all costs.

If you’re too nervous about the pressure of your garden hose, or if you don’t have one, you can also purchase a commercial fin cleaner.

Keep Your Fins Straight

After you’ve cleaned the fins, it’s important to ensure that you make keeping them straight a part of your HVAC maintenance plan.

The good news?

As long as you’re gentle, you can easily straighten out any crooked fins by using a simple butter knife. Just slide the knife in between the fins and delicately jiggle them until straight.

This might be one of the more time-consuming parts of your DIY HVAC maintenance routine, but it’s another step that will ensure you’re able to keep your bills low and your family healthy.

Take A Look Around

So, you’ve cleaned your fins and replaced any filters.

What’s next?

Now, it’s time to clean up the area surrounding your unit. Start by taking a look at what’s going on directly above the unit.

If there are branches with flowers and/or leaves that seem to be constantly falling into the unit?

If possible, consider cutting them.

For best results, the professionals say that you should aim to leave at least two feet of empty space around each side of your unit. Grab your rake and do the best that you can to keep things clean.

Doing a little HVAC maintenance during the winter months?

If so, you’ll need to get outside more often, especially if you’re dealing with any snowfall. Snow and ice can seriously damage your HVAC unit, so as soon as it’s safe to do so after a storm, go and remove the snow.

During the winter, you can also use a plastic tarp or some plywood to cover your HVAC unit.

A word of advice?

Never cover the sides of the unit during the winter or a rainstorm, as this can lead to corrosion as a result of trapped moisture.

Clean Drains And Coils

You’re almost done with your DIY HVAC maintenance — only two main things left to cover.

Let’s take a look at how to clean up your unit’s evaporator drain and its evaporator coil.

To Clean The Coils

You’ll notice a tiny door on the interior of the unit — your evaporator coil door. Open it and, using a toothbrush, gently brush away any debris or dirt from the coil.

You don’t need to wet the toothbrush, but you can use a commercial coil cleaner. After you’ve wiped the cleaner with a rag, you can then make a mixture of half bleach, half water.

Pour this mixture down your drain, wait for ten minutes, and rinse.

To Clean The Drain

Your evaporator drain is a dream habitat for potentially dangerous things like dirt, dust, mold, or even algae buildup.

In short, you ignore cleaning it at your peril.

To ensure your evaporator drain is in the best possible shape, you’ll need to clean it to prevent these nasty things from clogging and blocking it.

Locate your drain line, which will likely be a thinner piece of PVC pipe, and then figure out where exactly it’s draining to.

Then, take your small handheld vacuum cleaner (or larger vacuum with a hose) and get to work. To avoid damaging the drain, we suggest using a low setting on the vacuum. If there’s a filter inside your drain, also be sure to remove that during the vacuuming process.

Run your vacuum up the drain for about two minutes, and you’re good to go.

When In Doubt, Hire Professional HVAC Maintenance Services

Plus, keep in mind that, if serious problems are ignored for too long, they could lead to an electrical fire.

In addition to, quite clearly, putting the overall safety of your family at risk, electrical fires can cause seriously expensive damage to your property.

In fact, recent studies show that electrical fires cause over $200 million in property damage in a single year.

The reality is that, no matter how much of a DIY expert you are, there are some HVAC issues that are simply too big to handle on your own. Remember, when you suspect there’s a problem, it likely means that there’s an even bigger one lurking under the surface.

Plus, we always recommend making regular professional HVAC maintenance a part of your overall strategy.

For information about how to schedule an appointment or consultation, visit the Comfort Conditioning website.

Need Additional Maintenance Advice?

We hope that this post has helped you to understand that basic HVAC maintenance is something you’re entirely capable of handling on your own.

While some larger problems will certainly require the help of a professional, with a little elbow grease and some home hacks?

You’ll be able to extend the life of your HVAC units and increase the length between professional visits.

When you work from home, you have a unique ability to be able to help your family manage basic repairs, meet with contractors for estimates, and even do a little DIY maintenance yourself when things are slow!

Looking for advice on how to stop that faucet from running, the questions you should ask a potential roofing company, or just how to find reliable contractors in your area?

We’ve got you covered! Check out our website for more home improvement tips and tricks.