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Heating & Air News

[Checklist] - What You Need to Know About HVAC Tune-Ups

Posted by Howell's Heating & Air on September 07, 2017


HVAC Tune UpThe best thing you can do to support the life of an HVAC system is invest in a high-quality product up front. Abiding by the manufacturer's bi-annual maintenance recommendations is the next best thing you can do to enjoy consistent and efficient year-round heating and cooling.


HVAC maintenance visits are typically scheduled early-fall and mid-spring, before peak heating/cooling seasons. We recommend two HVAC maintenance visits per year.

HVAC Tune Up Checklist

We've put together this heating and cooling maintenance checklist because we think it's important for our customers to understand what happens during a Howell's Tune Up. However, please don't attempt any of these checklist items on your own, unless you're a trained HVAC Technician.

If you don't use Howell's for your regular HVAC maintenance, you might want to consider running through this list with your current HVAC technician to make sure they're covering all their bases.

What's Included in the Best HVAC Tune Ups?

While the average cost of an HVAC maintenance appointment usually ranges from $100 to $200 (related more to the size/complexity of your system than anything else), the amount of tuning up that happens for that price varies wildly. Some HVAC tune ups are cursory - others are very detailed.

The more detailed the heating and cooling tune up is, the more bang you'll get for your buck when it comes to whole-home comfort, energy efficiency, and reduced repair and replacement costs over the system's lifetime.

The Howell's Maintenance Checklist

Howell's Comfort Club members enjoy a 32-point inspection with each visit. Here are some of the items included our 32-point inspection checklist - one of the most comprehensive HVAC tune up protocols in the Richmond, VA area.

Comfort Club Memberships  Starting as low as $20 Month. Get Peace of Mind Today!

Test the Thermostat

Is your thermostat reading temperatures accurately, communicating with the HVAC system and start/stopping as it should? We'll make sure of it.

Amp Draw of Compressor

Your HVAC's compressor draws power to operate. The amount of power it's drawing (amps) tells us whether or not it's running within the correct amp range for that unit, as per the manufacturer's specs. Anything consistently higher or lower than the recommended range signals a red flag.

These readings also prevent the expensive replacement of a compressor that doesn't need to be replaced - something that happens all too often if technicians get lazy with inspections and diagnosis.

Compressor Capacitor Reading

HVAC Fan.jpgThe compressor capacitor stores energy to "jolt" your fan motor into action. If it's not working properly, fan action will be intermittent at best or stopped completely at worst. Taking a compressor capacitor reading verifies the right amount of power is moving through the capacitor, at the right speed.

Megaohm Reading of Compressor

This is another power-related reading that allows us to see if the compressor is shorting out and/or if its functioning correctly. We check our readings to the manufacturer's recommendations and take it from there.

Amp Draw Condenser Fan Motor & Rating

Similar to the compressor capacitor reading listed above, the technician typically checks the amp draw on the condenser fan motor after repairs or parts replacements are complete, verifying the unit isn't over-drawing - or, in some cases, under-drawing - power. We also check the voltage rating to ensure it's in the "good" zone.

Additional amp draws, megaohm readings and/or ratings will also be performed for the:

  • Blower Motor
  • Blower Capacitor
  • Blower
  • Condenser Fan Motor
  • Condenser Fan Capacitor
  • Inducer Motor
  • Pressure Proving Switch

Tightening of Electrical Connections

Machines vibrate, and these constant vibrations cause connections to loosen up. While a disconnected wire is an easy fix, it still requires a visit and charges from your HVAC technician, not to mention the loss of heating or cooling in the meantime. By tightening these up twice a year, odds are they'll never come completely detached.

Clean Bottom of Unit

Since condenser units live on the outside of the house, they're prone to the collection of dirt, leaved, twigs, grass cuttings, trash and other debris. We'll clean the bottom of the unit up, along with any mold that's grown on the outside, to keep the unit unobstructed and to promote healthy air flow.

Clean Outdoor Coil

The same is true for the outdoor coil, which operates the most efficiently and powerfully when clean.

Check Refrigerant Charge

Refrigerant is integral to the evaporative process that makes cooling possible. If refrigerant levels are too low, your unit can't effectively cool your living spaces. We check the levels and recharge refrigerant as needed to optimize system function.

Check Condition of Crawl Space & Ducts

We like to peek around in the crawl space. Is insulation around duct work holding up? Are ducts still in good condition? Is there evidence of mold or pest waste that may negatively impact HVAC function and/or indoor air quality. Does the insulation in the space indicate your home is in need of modern insulation updates to increase energy efficient?

If we notice any of these items need to be addressed, we'll let you know and make recommendations.

Inspect the Age of the Equipment

Outdoor HVAC Units for a Home.jpgIn the big picture, high-quality and well-maintained HVAC equipment should last for at 10-years or longer. However, the industry's made major leaps in terms of energy efficiency, and additional accessories/features that improve indoor air quality, over the past decade. If your HVAC has problems, and we notice it's outdated, we'll recommend a replacement - which should save you money in the long-haul.

A good replacement rule of thumb: when the costs of repairs and replacement parts creep up to 50% of the price for a new unit, you're better off replacing it.

Check Accessories

Different systems come with different accessories and we want to make sure you're system's accessories are doing their job. We'll test them, inspect them and make any necessary repairs - or let you know if we think something major needs to be amended or augmented.

Inspect the Indoor Coil

Like the outdoor coil, the indoor coil is also prone to dirt, dust, pet hair and debris - but it's stored indoors, inside the machine and requires getting into tight spaces with a flashlight. We do it though, because a dirty coil will ruin performance and cost you money.

Inspect Blower Wheel

Dirty blower wheels can cause your system to short cycle (turn on/off frequently), which is inefficient and causes serious wear-and-tear. We'll inspect it and clean it off to prevent this from happening.

Gas Pressure Inspection

If the gas pressure coming into your home (1st, 2nd, Natural, Propane) is too high, gas-fired devices can overheat and this will shut the furnace down. We verify the gas pressure coming into your home makes sense for the type and number of gas-fired appliances you have.

Check Operation of Safeties & Limits

There are multiple safety/comfort protections put in place to prevent your system from overheating, catching on fire or to keep it from blowing cold air into the home before the gas flame heats up enough, etc. We'll test these limits (high, roll out, etc.) to make sure they're working.

Clear Drain Line and Trap

Condensation creates moisture that should be drained through a line and trap. We make sure the line and trap are clear, and we clean them to prevent future clogs or blocks.

Check and Clean Flue and Connections

It's imperative that noxious byproducts and smoke are vented through the flue so we check to make sure that's happening, keeping the flue and connections clean, solid and efficient.

Clean the Burners

In addition to wasting fuel, dirty burners are a fire hazard and threaten indoor air quality (IAQ). We clean them up seasonally to prevent all of the above.

Check Filter Size

Air filters are integral to HVAC efficiency, not to mention IAQ. We'll make sure yours is the right size, and we'll replace it for you.

Schedule Your HVAC Maintenance in Richmond, VA Today!

Ready to schedule a comprehensive HVAC tune up? Contact Howell's Heating & Air and we'll return your investment with a lifetime of HVAC efficiency. Our team also offers reliable AC repair and installation in Richmond and the surrounding areas. This means that you can also count on us to provide high-result air conditioning repair in Mechanicsville and other neighborhoods, too. Schedule a consultation today!

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