Keeping your HVAC system clean and in good working order is an important part of home maintenance, but many homeowners aren’t sure how to get started. Whether the system is clogged or needs minor repairs, there are many simple ways you can take care of it yourself if you start off with the right tools and knowledge. Making sure you keep safety in mind is a priority, so do some research online before you begin so you can learn everything there is to know about how your HVAC system works and which type you have.

Consider outside factors as well as the unit itself. Grass, bugs, weeds, and other debris can be blown into the physical outdoor unit, which can cause clogs and keep the system from running at top performance — or at all. It’s also imperative to learn how to shut off power to the system before you begin working on it in order to prevent injury. If you’re unsure of where to begin, never hesitate to call in a professional to do the job.

Here are things to consider to keep your HVAC system clean and running smoothly:

Figure Out Which Tools You’ll Need

Cleaning your HVAC unit isn’t too difficult, but it does require a few tools and a bit of time — generally speaking, about half a day. Learning which tools you’ll need and how to use them will set you off on the right foot, so look for a screwdriver, fin tool, foil tape, and a coil cleaner (available for under $7), and have a garden hose ready to blast off caked-on dirt or grass.

Do Some Reading

There are many different types of HVAC systems for homes, including split systems and duct-free, which involve having a unit for each room in the house for greater temperature control. It’s imperative to do a bit of reading to find out which system you have, how it works, and what common repairs are associated with it. Larger, more complicated units may require a pro simply because of the parts involved (central AC repair in Allen typically costs $162 – $523), so it’s crucial that you do research before attempting to do any job yourself; otherwise, you may risk injury or damage to the system.

Keep the Lawn Tended

Long grass, small toys, weeds, flowers, insects, and dirt can all wreak havoc on an outdoor HVAC unit, so keeping the lawn well taken care of will go a long way toward keeping it clean. It’s important to be careful when mowing close to the unit since loose grass clippings can be blown inside. You can use a mower that has a bag attachment or simply use a handheld weed cutter to take care of the grass closest to the unit. You can even set up a small fence around the system; just make sure there’s plenty of space between the two of them for ventilation.

Change the Filter 

Your HVAC filter helps to keep the entire system running smoothly, which benefits not only your heating and cooling needs but also your utility bill. During the hottest and coldest months, it’s important to make sure your filter is changed regularly. Look at the MERV rating on your filter — the higher, the better — and keep a spare around so you can change it without having to wait.

Keeping your HVAC unit clean and running smoothly doesn’t have to be a costly, stressful ordeal. By doing a little research online, you can figure out the best way to get started with your project and how to save money in the process. Keep safety in mind as well, and always turn off power to the unit before working on it.

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