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HVAC maintenance checklist – free printable!

Maximize your home’s comfort and efficiency with our comprehensive HVAC Maintenance Checklist. This essential guide is part of our curated home maintenance checklists, designed to help homeowners maintain their systems and prevent costly repairs.

The HVAC system is one of the most expensive individual parts of your home. Plus, it’s super important for the day today function and comfort of the living space.

While your HVAC system will probably usually be fine, repairs or replacements can be pricey, and always seem to come on the hottest or coldest days of the year.

The best way to prolong these costs is to take good care of your HVAC system. While most HVAC work should be left to the professionals, there is plenty of simple maintenance, and even just observation that you can do as a home owner to help improve the efficiency, lower your utility bills, extend the equipment life, and enhance the indoor air quality in your home.

Let’s chat about the most essential HVAC home maintenance tasks for homeowners!

Be sure to download our free HVAC Maintenance Checklist to keep on top of all of your tasks!

HVAC maintenance checklist

Understanding Your HVAC System

A brief overview of common HVAC systems (central air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps).
Explain how each system works and its key components.

Preventive Maintenance: Why It Matters

The most important way to keep your HVAC running smoothly for as long as possible is to just pay attention to it and do preventative maintenance tasks as needed.

Reduce Repair Costs

By regularly inspecting and performing simple maintenance on your system, you are less likely to have a big problem – by catching a small problem before it escalates. This can save you big money on repairs and replacements.

Now, can your system just up and burn out overnight? Sure. But, preventative maintenance will help you be more aware of the status of the system – so you have time to save and plan if and when the system’s end is drawing near.

Lower Energy Bills

The HVAC system can be a big energy suck for your home. You want it running as smoothly as possible to cut down on the energy usage and cost. Monitoring your electrical or gas bills can be a great way to identify when something might be going wrong.

Extend the Life of Your HVAC System

It’s no surprise that taking care of your system can help it last longer. Identifying and fixing small problems means that overall, you are likely to get a longer life out of it!

New HVAC Unit from James Island Heating and Air - Charleston Crafted

Monthly HVAC Maintenance Tasks

Here are the top tasks to tackle each month with your HVAC system.

Inspect and Replace Air Filters as Needed

Purpose: Ensure efficient airflow and improve indoor air quality.

How To:

  • Turn off the system before checking the filters.
  • Slide out the filter and examine it for dirt and clogs.
  • If it’s disposable, replace it with a new one of the same size and rating.
  • If it’s reusable, clean it according to the manufacturer’s instructions before reinserting.

Read our complete guide to changing your air filters!

Check Thermostat Operation

Purpose: Confirm that the HVAC system maintains the desired temperature efficiently.

How To:

  • Check the thermostat for any error messages or warnings.
  • Make sure that it is set to the correct mode (heating or cooling) for the season.
  • Adjust the temperature settings to see if the HVAC system responds appropriately.
  • Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat for better energy management.
Installing new air filters when you move - Charleston Crafted

Clear Debris from Outdoor Units

Purpose: Maintain unit efficiency and prevent overheating.

How To:

  • Ensure the unit is turned off.
  • Remove leaves, twigs, and other debris from the top and sides of outdoor units.
  • Trim any plants or shrubs to maintain at least a 2-foot clearance around the unit.
  • Inspect for any signs of damage or wear.

Listen for Unusual Noises

Purpose: Early detection of potential issues within the HVAC system.

How To:

  • Listen for any sounds that are out of the ordinary when the system starts up, runs, or shuts down.
  • Common problematic sounds include grinding, squealing, banging, or clicking. These may indicate mechanical issues, loose parts, or other malfunctions.

Observe System Start-up and Shut-down Performance

Purpose: Ensure the system is starting and stopping as it should, without hesitation or difficulty.

How To:

  • Observe the system during start-up and shut-down. It should operate smoothly without delays, odd noises, or repeated cycling on and off.
  • Note any unusual behaviors or failure to start, which could indicate electrical issues or a failing component.
New HVAC Unit from James Island Heating and Air - Charleston Crafted

Seasonal HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Here are seasonal tasks to perform just twice a year: once in the Spring/Summer and once in the Fall/Winter.

Inspect Refrigerant Lines

Purpose: Maintain optimal performance and cooling efficiency.

How To:

  • Look for signs of leaks, such as oil residue or damage to the insulation surrounding the lines.
  • Ensure the lines are securely fastened and have no kinks or bends that could impede refrigerant flow.

Clean Coils

Purpose: Improve system efficiency and reduce energy costs.
How To:

  • Remove debris and dirt from the condenser coil exterior using a coil brush or hose.
  • Clean the evaporator coil with a soft brush and coil cleaner.
  • Ensure both are free of foliage and debris.
home maintenance printable binder

Click here to streamline and simplify your home maintenance with our comprehensive home maintenance solution!

Check Thermostat Settings

Purpose: Ensure energy efficiency and comfort.

How To:

  • Verify the thermostat is working correctly and that it turns the system on and off at the programmed temperatures.
  • Replace batteries if necessary and update settings for the upcoming season.
Clean air filter versus dirty air filter

Inspect Ductwork for Leaks

Purpose: Maintain proper system pressure and efficiency.

How To:

  • Visually inspect accessible ducts for separations, holes, and tears.
  • Use a smoke pencil to detect air leaks around seams.
  • Seal any leaks with duct mastic or metal-backed tape.

Clear Area Around Outdoor Units

Purpose: Prevent airflow blockage and system overheating.

How To:

  • Remove any leaves, twigs, dirt, or other debris around the unit.
  • Trim any plants or branches to maintain clearance.
  • Ensure nothing is stacked against or on top of the unit.

Check Insulation on Refrigerant Lines

Purpose: Maintain refrigerant temperature and efficiency.

How To:

  • Check for deterioration or missing insulation.
  • Replace or repair insulation if it’s compromised to ensure proper thermal properties are maintained.

Test System Controls

Purpose: Confirm proper operation and sequence of system operation.

How To:

  • Check that the system starts, operates, and shuts off according to the thermostat’s settings.
  • Make sure all system controls are responsive and functioning correctly.

Professional Maintenance Tips

While the above tasks can usually be done by any old homeowner, there are some HVAC tasks that should be handled exclusively by professionals.

This includes: checking refrigerant levels, inspecting electrical components, and performing detailed system inspections.

The best way to find a reputable HVAC technician in your area is to ask your neighbors. I know that our neighborhood has a very active Facebook group. Many neighborhoods or areas are active on the app NextDoor.

Or, just ask a neighbor in real life who they use.

This is the best way to find someone who is a good value and not going to try to scam you, because I feel like every HVAC person always tells us we need a whole new system every time they come just to check the refrigerant.

Additionally, it’s really good to have a professional technician do an annual check up on your system.

Be wary of HVAC companies that send out postcards offering free check ups. Like I said, we’ve had several of these come in and tell us we just need to replace our whole system.

Luckily, we knew when we were smelling BS.

But, professional check ups can identify small problems before they come big problems and save you money in the long run.

New HVAC Unit from James Island Heating and Air - Charleston Crafted

Recognizing Signs of HVAC Trouble

List common signs that indicate a need for professional maintenance or repair, like unusual noises, poor performance, or increased energy bills.

Energy Efficiency Tips

in addition to being expensive to repair, HVAC systems can be a big energy suck. If you can, here are a few steps that you can take to increase energy efficiency of your HVAC system.

Sealing ducts

If possible, check your ductwork for any damage and reseal it up. This will help to keep your HVAC’s air flowing as intended.

When there are leaks in the ducts, the HVAC has to work harder to keep up, and is more likely to wear out quickly.

Installing a programmable thermostat

Smart thermostats are just about the app. They can tell when you are at home or work on a schedule to adjust the temperature and save energy. The last of your HVAC system is having to work hard, possibly the longer it will last.

Having proper insulation

Having good installation in all of your home will help to keep the regulated air in and the unregulated air out. Check any areas where you feel a draft and see if you can add any sealant or insulation to those spots.

For example, our house is raised, and when we first moved in, we noticed that the seams in the stairs were leading in a ton of air from the open garage below. Just adding a bit of caulk sealed tha and Means are HVAC system has to work a little bit less hard all year round.

Remember – regular maintenance will help to ensure the efficient and long-lasting operation of your HVAC system!

Free Printable: HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Want to get complete control of your HVAC maintenance? Download our free printable tracker so you never miss a tune up!

hvac maintenance checklist mock up

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