Summer is on the horizon and we're switching from furnace to air conditioning season in most parts of the country. According to Carrier, one of the top companies in cooling systems, "It's fair to say that, with proper maintenance and care, you can expect a good 15 to 20 years of cooling from a new high efficiency air conditioning system." They also state, "A well maintained furnace can last at least 15 to 20 years but completing annual maintenance and being diligent with repairs can extend its life even longer." It is important to perform annual maintenance and repairs to your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. A home that has a well-cared-for HVAC system retains its home value as well.

Annual HVAC Maintenance

It is important to maintain your HVAC equipment annually to keep it at its peak performance level. There is an informative maintenance checklist on You can hire an HVAC company to perform an annual "clean and check." This will include checking all the controls in your HVAC system to be sure the system starts correctly, operates properly and safely, and shuts off properly. It will also include inspecting the condensate drain to be sure it's not clogged. The HVAC contractor should lubricate all moving parts, so you are not using extra, unnecessary electricity.

The "clean and check" should include checking your thermostat settings. You should change the thermostat battery each year as well. For your cooling system, you should have your evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils cleaned. The HVAC contractor should clean and adjust your blower components. Finally, the central air conditioner's refrigerant level should be checked to ensure the system is running efficiently. The annual maintenance for your furnace should include checking all gas or oil connections, the gas pressure, the burner combustion and the heat exchanger.

Change Filters

Once a month you should change or clean your furnace filter. Ask your HVAC professional to show you how. A dirty filter can damage your HVAC equipment. It can increase your energy bill because it has to work harder and more often. A clean filter is also better for your family if anyone has allergies. Clean air is just, flat out, better to breathe.

Clean the Vents

You can clean the vents in your home by simply dusting them. If they are really dirty, use a wet cloth to clean them. You can unscrew them, take them down, and wash them in the sink as well.

Get Your Air Ducts Cleaned

The verdict is still out on how effective cleaning your air ducts will affect your HVAC system. The website has an article called Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?. The article states, "little evidence exists that cleaning only the ducts will improve the efficiency of the system." The article does cite a few reasons why you should have your air ducts cleaned. One reason is if there is visible mold growth inside the ducts on the hard metal surface. Mold can be hazardous to your health. If your ducts are infested with rodents or insects, get them cleaned. This is extremely important. Finally, if your ducts are clogged with excessive dust, debris and other particles, and they are physically being released into your home, you should get them cleaned.

It's important to keep a record of your HVAC maintenance schedule. This is good for your own knowledge and also key to have when the time comes to sell your home. A well-maintained HVAC system will help keep your home value at an optimal level.