How to extend the life of your heating system

(ARA) – Just as regular tune-ups may extend the life of your car, performing routine maintenance to your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system may extend the life of your HVAC equipment. While there are some tasks homeowners can handle on their own, many HVAC projects require a professional contractor.

Independent Customer Care (TM) Dealers from American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning offer a quick overview of basic service tasks for do-it-yourselfers and service jobs that require a pro:

Furnace maintenance: DIY

Filters prevent dust and dirt from building up in your HVAC system. However, dirty filters slow airflow, forcing your system to work harder. The extra exertion can increase energy costs and lead to a damaged system. To prevent costly repairs and keep your system operating at peak efficiency, replace your furnace filters on a monthly basis.

Furnace maintenance: Pro

A licensed HVAC contractor should fully inspect your furnace at least once per year. During an annual inspection, the contractor will check the heat exchanger and may adjust the burner. Depending on what type of heating system you have, a professional may also check or clean the flue.

Outdoor unit: DIY

Keep the area surrounding the outdoor unit free of debris – remove any grass or leaves near the base of the unit and keep nearby shrubbery pruned. If the exterior of the unit becomes dirty, you may also use a soft brush or vacuum cleaner to clean the surface.

Outdoor unit: Pro

When servicing an outdoor unit, a professional will inspect the unit’s wiring and repair any loose or damaged connections. A licensed HVAC contractor will also remove any debris that you may have overlooked or can’t see, as well as oil the fan and inspect the unit’s interior for any damage.

Ductwork: DIY

Leaky ductwork wastes energy and reduces the life span of an HVAC system. DIYers are encouraged to inspect all visible ductwork in the attic, crawlspace or garage for cracks or leaks. Most local home improvement stores carry a variety of metal tapes or sealants that you can easily apply to seal leaks however, homeowners are encouraged to contact a professional for tougher jobs such as adding new ductwork.

Ductwork: Pro

A professional duct cleaner will inspect the entire system, including ductwork not accessible to you. As a part of the inspection, a professional will take apart the vents, clean the vents and registers, and check for mold, asbestos and other contaminants. A contractor will often seal off any fiberglass insulation in the ducts, preventing it from blowing into the home.

While a professional HVAC contractor will keep your system running at its most efficient, there are a few things you can do in tandem to help extend the life of your HVAC system. In addition, regular care to your heating and cooling system may also improve your home’s energy efficiency and enhance indoor air quality. For more information or to contact a local American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning dealer, go to