Another New England winter is on the way, which means your home’s heating system will be working overtime to keep you and your family warm.
Yet, many homeowners are surprised to learn just how relatively short the average life of an HVAC system is.
On average, a forced-air HVAC unit’s typical lifecycle ranges between 10 and 30 years. As for a well-cared-for oil heating system? Those can last between 15 and 25 years. That’s a great deal, right?
Not so fast.
In most scenarios, out-of-sight usually means out-of-mind. In the case of an HVAC system, however, out-of-sight typically means out of cash down the road.
In short, a neglected HVAC system can add up to huge costs.
I’ve seen it before, and it’s not pretty. That’s why I’m sharing my insider pro-tips for safeguarding your home’s HVAC system while avoiding costly issues in the future.
That’s 20 – 30 years away…why care now?
Beyond avoiding costly repairs and even future replacements, a faulty HVAC system can put a snag in your plans.
Here are just some the of ways a neglected HVAC system can hold you back:
- Selling your home? Good luck getting top dollar with an HVAC system in need of repair. Home inspectors are sure to flag any issues. The last thing you want is to make costly repairs so that you can sell your home.
- Buying a home for generations? If so, you most likely plan on staying for more than 20 years or so. It’s better to pass down a solid investment than a headache.
Life doesn’t stop just because your heat won’t turn on, but costly repairs can stop you from moving on to (or out of) a home.
Depending on how poorly your system is performing, you may need to dig deep to come up with the money to fix it. In older homes requiring oil heating, this can be especially challenging.
So, what do I recommend? Let’s dive in.
Regular maintenance & seasonal checkups are key
When understanding the average life of an HVAC system, it helps to compare it to your car. You may drive every day while not realizing the strain you’re putting on your tires and axels, let alone whether you’re overdue for an oil change.
Yet, the seamless everyday use of your car without thinking of maintenance will ultimately require a costly repair. Think of how often you use the heat during a typical New England winter. Your heating system needs regular maintenance to keep you warm, too.
Before you call an expert for a check-up, there’s one big thing you should do to get a head start on your HVAC maintenance while protecting its lifespan.
What’s my easy solution, you ask? Change your filters as advised. This one’s important—really important. It’s simple, yet many homeowners forego this step, as it never crosses their minds.
This applies to both oil and forced-air systems, as we’ll get into later in this blog.
In the meantime, it’s important to know that not changing your air filter can have damaging impacts on you and your home:
- Decreased temperature regulation. A clogged air filter will cut back on your home’s airflow, which produces an uneven distribution of hot & cool air in the rooms where you need it.
- Increased energy bills. All that clogging can also clog up your wallet. The less hot air can make its way through all the rooms in your home, the more likely you are to turn it up. The energy companies don’t care that you have your heat set to “HIGH,” yet it’s still 55 degrees in your living room. You’re paying for heat you’re not even feeling!
- Health problems for inhabitants. The pollen, mold, and debris trapped in a dirty filter aren’t meant to be inhaled. This can mean bad news for anyone with asthma, allergies, or is elderly.
- Broken furnace. Clogged up filters can overload your entire system while creating a high volume of collateral damage. This, of course, means higher costs.
Oil heating systems need care, too
Common issues for home oil heating systems can present themselves in a range of ways. Oil filters need to be changed, systems need to be cleaned, and seasonal check-ups are highly recommended.
Consult an HVAC specialist if your home’s oil heating system is experiencing any of the following:
- The oil furnace isn’t turning on
- The oil furnace is noisy
In some cases, these problems may result from a thermostat issue, an unlubricated belt, or a loose panel. The older your home and heating system, the more attention should be paid to inconsistent performance during colder months.
Keep an eye (and ear) out for potential oil heating issues. Look for any black soot around your furnace, which can indicate your furnace isn’t burning oil the way it should. Of course, listen for any unusual sounds or vibrations that could indicate loose mechanical parts.
Oil furnaces have air filters that need changing
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a heating system that doesn’t require an air filter, including oil heating systems in older homes. An oil furnace needs to have its air filter changed, also.
If you’re unsure how to change your oil filter, speak with a heating professional. If they’re a MassSaves® partner, ask them for expert tips on how to save money on your energy bill through free, statewide initiatives.
Forced-air HVAC heating systems
Staying with the topic of air filters, it’s a good time to mention forced-air HVAC systems.
No one wants to wake up to a home nightmare, so it’s best to change your air filters regularly.
Here’s how often you should change your forced-air HVAC air filters:
- A home with family & no pets – change filters every 90 days
- A home with family & one pet – change filters every 60 days
- A home with family & two pets – change filters every 20 to 40 days
- A single person living with no pets – change filters every 6 to 12 months
We see here that suggestions range from once-or-twice a year to every few weeks.
If you have a family and multiple pets, life is busy enough without stopping to think about your air filter every 20 days. Therefore, I recommend consulting with an HVAC professional to assess your situation and develop a plan to keep your family safe and your HVAC running smoothly.
What does seasonal HVAC maintenance look like?
I’ve (hopefully) convinced you how important it is to stay current with your HVAC system. Even still, homeowners can’t be expected to do everything on their own.
That’s why it’s vital to have a seasonal maintenance plan with a local HVAC specialist. Here’s what that maintenance would look like for a forced-air system:
- Refrigerants are replaced as needed.
- Debris is cleaned around the outside of the unit to allow for unrestricted operation.
- Air filters can be replaced.
- Mechanical elements are checked and repaired to ensure a warm winter inside.
Again, these are seasonal check-ups that can save you lots of money down the road. Don’t be shy about asking your HVAC specialist for DIY tips you can do to protect your system between check-ups.
For those with an oil heating system, consult a home heating specialist about a seasonal maintenance plan.
Safeguard the average life of an HVAC system
The average life of an HVAC system doesn’t need to become another costly statistic that leaves you out in the cold. Seasonal maintenance is an important part of preserving your home’s value while avoiding huge bills.
As Norton MA’s # 1 Plumber & HVAC specialist, I know how to keep your HVAC system running smoothly.
Contact me today, and I’ll get back to you quickly with a plan to keep you warm this season.