How often should you service your HVAC system?

Your Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning system (HVAC) maintenance will not only save you money on energy, it will also extend it's lifespan which will save money on early replacement. But how often and what type of maintenance does your system require?

Even if you don't suspect any problems with your system, it's a good idea to have it inspected, serviced and cleaned once a year to ensure that it works at peak energy efficiency. Have the heating system checked in the Fall and the A/C checked in the Spring. Oil-fired equipment should absolutely be checked at the beginning of every heating season. Left unchecked, your system can lose 5 percent of its operating efficiency each year because of buildup of dust and dirt that accumulates with regular system use.

Many heating and cooling companies offer low-priced, preventive maintenance service contracts — costing about $89 per system. Annual servicing should include cleaning the system, checking for any problems or potential problems and adjusting for PEAK efficiency. Some companies even offer discounts if you sign up for an annual plan and will provide preferred scheduling to preventive maintenance customers, should a larger issue arise during the busy season.

If you do hire a company to maintain your system, check to make sure its technicians are licensed as HVAC contractors and the company holds workers' compensation and liability insurance to protect you in the event of an injury or property damage. If your system seems to be working fine but the technician suggests expensive repairs or replacing your A/C unit, get advice from other companies before authorizing any work to be done. Most HVAC units should last 15 years+, with proper maintenance.