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What Is HVAC Preventive Maintenance?

Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.
A vent cover leading to an HVAC system.
Article Details
  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems usually require routine preventive maintenance to keep them in proper working order. Large units that are used in hospitals, schools, factories, and office buildings are usually maintained by skilled HVAC technicians. Simple maintenance and repair jobs on home heating or air conditioning units can usually be performed by individuals with relatively little knowledge or experience with HVAC systems. HVAC preventive maintenance helps to reduce wear and tear, improve the efficiency of a system, and extend the life of a unit.

Some manufacturing plants, hospitals, and other large buildings staff full- or part-time specialists to perform HVAC preventive maintenance and make emergency repairs when necessary. Many repairmen and women have detailed knowledge of every aspect of a system, including the structure and function of air vents and the interior of mechanical engines. They understand the organization of belts, fans, gears, and wires, and know how to make sure that everything is kept in proper working order. Professionals might consult operators' manuals and blueprints to help guide them through maintenance jobs.

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The first step in HVAC preventive maintenance usually involves thoroughly cleaning the interior and exterior of a unit. Removing dirt and debris from fans, vents, and other parts can significantly improve performance and prevent pieces from becoming clogged. A specialist then checks the various internal parts of the engine and electrical system for wear. Damaged or worn parts are usually replaced with new ones in order to prevent potential problems. In addition, screws and belts are tightened, filters are replaced, and electrical wires are examined.

A technician will typically test the system after an HVAC preventive maintenance job to make sure that it runs quietly and smoothly. Some systems, especially older ones, need to be checked every few months or weeks to ensure efficiency. A new unit or one that is not used regularly may only need preventive maintenance once or twice a year.

Individuals who have systems installed in their homes might hire technicians to perform detailed maintenance jobs, though many people are able to handle simple HVAC preventive maintenance tasks themselves. It is usually fairly straightforward to maintain small air conditioning, heating, or refrigeration units with basic tools and common sense. Owners' manuals often come with detailed instructions on how to maintain a unit.

With the power supply turned off, an individual can first remove guards, external pieces, and filters with a screwdriver. Filters and pads often need to be replaced during preventive maintenance jobs, and new pieces can be purchased at most hardware and home improvement stores. Parts can be cleaned with a rag or paper towels, and gears can be lubricated via an owner manual's instructions if necessary. The unit should be tested after a job to make sure that everything was put back correctly.

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