Nothing in this life is so irritating as realizing the heat isn’t working in the winter, except, perhaps, the dawning comprehension that the central air has stopped on the hottest day of the year.

“Like anything else,” says a spokesperson from Ambient Edge, “HVAC systems need their own type of tender love and care. Preventative maintenance keeps the systems working and saves customers from costly repairs.”

No one wants to experience the bitter cold or muggy warmth when one of these breaks down.

Luckily, the common maintenance for HVAC systems is easy and inexpensive.

Air Filters

Each HVAC system utilizes an air filter to stop airborne particles from going inside your house.

Many homeowners overlook the importance of regular filter changes; if these become dirty, not only can the particles enter your home, but built-up grime can also cause damage to the system. You can even become sick.

Replacing an air filter is a simple process, and most cost as little as $20. It should be changed at least every three months.

Clear the Space Around the Exterior Unit

It’s important that the outside unit remain clutter-free. Keep leaves from building up and ensure vegetation does not grow on or around it. If any trees are nearby that tend to heavily pollenate the area, be sure to visually check the system often. Cottonwood trees are especially gruesome on HVAC systems.

Whenever the unit is dirty, use a water hose to gently clean the exterior. Do this prior to the months when central air will be used, but be sure to check in on it regularly throughout the entire year.

Clean the Condensing Unit

The condensing unit is the external device used for your HVAC system. Usually, each unit is equipped with a compressor, fan and condensing coil.

After turning off the power, inspect the parts to make sure each one is free of debris. You can even use a wet towel to gently remove exterior grime. The process is simple and free (if you choose to do it yourself), but this may take about several hours to complete.

This should be done at least once a year.

Clean the Evaporator Coil and Drainpipe

On the air conditioning unit, there should be a small dripping line. This line is the drainpipe. It is responsible for removing excess condensation, which discourages the growth of mold and algae.

This process should be done yearly and requires cloths, a wet/dry vacuum, distilled vinegar and a funnel.

After turning off the power, check the drain pan for any standing water, which can indicate there is a clog. Use a shop vacuum to clear the clog through the drainpipe and wash the pan with soap and water.

At the access point on the drain, insert the distilled vinegar to help flush it. Wait half an hour, then add water.

Schedule a Check-Up

If you prefer the aid of experts, schedule a yearly appointment for preventative maintenance with your local HVAC company.