Most HVAC equipment requires certain maintenance tasks to keep it working in top condition. Issues arising from irregular or improper heating system maintenance do not typically occur quickly and take some time to develop. Sometimes, consumers are lucky that their new heating and air conditioning equipment runs for months or even years without any maintenance. But certainly no equipment can reach their expected lifetime without proper maintenance.

burner-replacementHeating equipment requires annual tune-ups, timely filter replacements and proper cleaning of sensitive components. Annual tune up is the most essential maintenance task. It may cost around $100 – $200, but it’s necessary for the long lasting operation of your furnace or boiler. Besides that, a properly tuned system will keep lower consumption of fuel, so it would pay back relatively quickly. The best time to do an annual tune-up is shortly before the new heating season starts.

Filter replacements should be done whenever air or oil filters are clogged. Fuel filters are relatively cheap, just like those in your car, and are easy to replace. Clogged filters would usually dramatically increase your furnace’s oil consumption and increase risks of failure, even if the system is otherwise properly maintained. The collection of oil impurities into the burner, for example, would damage the spraying nozzle. Even a small damage or clogging to the nozzle would skyrocket the oil consumption even before you notice it. And even if a clogged filter manages to keep all the filth out, it would be less efficient and the pump would have to work faster, burning more oil.

Oil tanks maintenance is equally important: if your oil level drops below a quarter of a tank, the oil sludge on the tank’s bottom which is full of impurities can clog the filters faster, and allow for breeding of bacteria which cause the tank’s corrosion. Since the corrosion goes from the inside, you usually won’t notice it until the oil starts to leak, and when it happens you would have to replace the entire tank. You can put various additives to prevent oil sludge or gelling (freezing), or simply order heating oil which already has those additives. If you use a float gauge you need to check it often as there’s a risk that it would get stuck and show wrong data on actual oil levels in your tank.

Air conditioners need maintenance, too. Although regular tune-ups of your air conditioner wouldn’t make it last as long as an oil furnace (or maybe will, but these chances are much lower), dirty ac filters can be harmful to your health. Frequent replacing of filters, regular addition of refrigerant whenever you feel that its cooling power weakens and frequent cleaning of the new filters will help ensure cleaner air and lower electric bills.

The recent Legionnaires’ outbreak in New York reminded us that air conditioners can do harm and even kill people if improperly used, though most victims usually suffer from central air conditioning systems such as cooling towers.