HVAC System Basics for New Homeowners

Well done on picking out your first home! You are certainly thrilled with your investment, even though you may feel weighed down by all the new responsibilities. Now that you’re the homeowner, not the renter, it’s your job to care for all your home’s appliances and utility equipment, including the heating and cooling equipment.

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

Know the Different Elements of an HVAC System

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

  • Comfort systems, like 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 when it comes to air-forced systems including ACs, heat pumps and furnaces.
  • Radiators or hot water distribution systems like boilers.
  • Indoor air quality equipment, like an air filter, whole-house humidifier, whole-house dehumidifier, air purifier or energy-recovery ventilator.
  • Thermostat for indoor climate control.

Understand the Importance of Preventive Maintenance

When you were renting your home, the landlord likely took care of HVAC maintenance tasks like replacing the air filter. They may or may not have also handled the bill for detailed heating and cooling inspections.

Now that you’re in charge, you can offer preventive maintenance the attention it deserves. First, complete these do-it-yourself HVAC maintenance tasks:

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

Then, arrange annual maintenance for each HVAC unit. Only an experienced professional can execute in-depth tasks like cleaning the furnace burners, recharging the AC refrigerant and identifying air leaks in the ductwork. Expect the following benefits when you get a professional to inspect your system once a year:

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

Look Out for Signs of Trouble

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

  • Loud noise: Don’t neglect a screeching, rattling, clanking or banging sound. It could be a cry for help from your furnace or air conditioner.
  • Comfort or air quality issues: Inconsistent temperatures, high or low humidity, stale rooms and musty odors are regularly associated with malfunctioning HVAC equipment.
  • Poor energy efficiency: Are your bills unexpectedly going up? This could mean your heating and cooling system isn’t working right.
  • Old age: Like all mechanical utilities, HVAC systems ultimately give out. The standard life span of a furnace or boiler is 15 years, while air conditioners and heat pumps run just about a decade.

Learn More About the HVAC Replacement Process

If your defective furnace or air conditioner can’t be fixed, you’ll need to replace it with an HVAC specialist's help. Here’s how that works:

  • Illustrate the problem to the technician and let them explore it more in-depth.
  • The tech should identify the problem and offer possible solutions. A repair might be doable, but based on the unit’s condition and age, a replacement may be more cost-effective.
  • You can obtain various opinions and estimates from available contractors if you want.
  • When you call BW/Cook Service Experts, a residential sales consultant will go over what HVAC system, brand, fuel type and efficiency rating is best for you.
  • The technician will supply you with a written estimate detailing the work necessary, the equipment they’ll install and the total price. You might also get info about warranty coverage, service plans and financing options.
  • Schedule the installation after you decide what system you want. The technician will take care of everything, including hauling away the old equipment for appropriate disposal.
  • The sales consultant will walk through the new system with you, describing how to use it, helping with any questions and offering all the needed documentation.

Call BW/Cook Service Experts

If you have questions about these HVAC system fundamentals, don't wait to reach out to BW/Cook Service Experts. We focus on customer education to help you make an educated decision about your heating and cooling system. Our team is well-versed in a wide range of HVAC services, so turn to us for everything from furnace maintenance to AC repair to heat pump installation. For more info or to ask about an estimate, please get in touch with your local BW/Cook Service Experts office today.

 

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