Preventive maintenance for HVAC | HVAC regular maintenance checklist

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Updated on:

April 11, 2024

Air conditioning preventive maintenance | HVAC maintenance checklist

Drastic changes between bitter cold and heat seasons can stress heating and cooling systems. The HVAC systems can become a big expense when not taken care of properly and can lead to the need for replacement if not HVAC preventive maintenance is not performed.

HVAC preventative maintenance will not just ensure proper flow of the air conditioning system, but it also prolong the life of your HVAC system.

Key Takeaways:

  • HVAC preventive maintenance: essential for cost savings and system longevity.
  • Benefits: lower energy bills, problem avoidance, and peak efficiency.
  • Maintenance phases: corrective, preventive, risk-based, predictive.
  • Steam cleaning of coils improves performance, eliminates odors/allergens, enhances air quality, reduces energy consumption.

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preventive maintenance on hvac system

What is a preventative maintenance checklist for an air conditioning system?

Generally speaking, preventive maintenance helps ensure that the warm or cold air pumping through your is as clean as possible to breathe. Usually, a trained professional HVAC technician will come to your house to do maintenance checking. He will be looking for several things:

  1. Checking refrigerant charge and inspect for leaks
  2. Cleaning and straightening condenser coils to ensure proper air flow
  3. Checking gas connection for gas leaks
  4. Checking if the gas pressure is set to a proper amount
  5. Checking for dust mites and mold
  6. Tightening all electrical connections
  7. Lubricating all moving parts
  8. Replacing worn pulleys
  9. Testing thermostat to make sure it turns the system functioning is set to turn on and off properly
  10. Clearing drain pans of any standing water to avoid overflow
  11. Checking whether the air filters need a cleaning or replacement
  12. Many homeowners will have to be required to have their heating and cooling system checked to maintain the warranty on their air conditioner.

"Is HVAC preventative maintenance worth it?" - Yes.

When your air conditioning system gets a regular maintenance, your trained service technician is more likely to discover issues with your HVAC system early on, so you can take care of them early on and not pay thousands of dollars.

A lot of times, minor damages that you think will go away can become a very big expense and bring stress. Faulty electrical connections that have not been tightened on time can cause unsafe operations.

lower energy bills with hvac maintenance

Lower energy bills and maximum efficiency

Preventative maintenance will keep your air conditioner working properly. The longer your air conditioning unit lasts, the longer you can wait to replace it! Better performance can increase efficiency and reduce costs in the long run.

Avoidance of future problems

When you get your AC system serviced regularly, you are decreasing the chances of it running improperly without you knowing about it.

Peak efficiency

Getting a maintenance check for your air conditioner is like getting an engine check for your car. It is always to know that a HVAC professional is taking care of the air quality in your home.

phases of hvac maintenance

What are the phases of preventative maintenance for an HVAC system?

Planned maintenance can be categorized into many categories, but the most common ones are as follows:

  • Corrective (run to failure) maintenance
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Risk based maintenance
  • Predictive maintenance

When all these phases are performed together, it will leave your HVAC system running at peak performance. However, if you try to do a little maintenance checklist for yourself (which is always) recommended, you might need all the four phases for a system check.

Corrective maintenance

Usually, planned corrective maintenance can happen in two ways. First, the heating system or the heat pump may have broken down and the AC system is not working. Second occurs when your technician is doing a maintenance check on the HVAC system but find an issue to fix.

The benefits of corrective maintenance include:

  • allows the trained service technician to concentrate on other tasks until a breakdown occurs
  • costs are only collected when equipment breakdown occurs
  • minimal planning is needed

Corrective maintenance checklist makes the most sense for non critical issues in HVAC systems that can be fixed with easy fix or replacement that will not break the bank.

Preventative maintenance

AC Preventative maintenance has three different phases:

  • time base strategies use inspections at regular intervals to identify maintenance needs
  • usage based maintenance checklist is performed according to equipment use benchmarks, such as number of operations
  • condition based approaches require stakeholders to monitor an asset to determine maintenance needs


  • decreases downtime and equipment failure
  • decreases the need to replace or repair equipment or AC systems
  • extends the life of equipment

Risk based maintenance

This stage involves identifying and analyzing the risk of an event that is occurring. Whether it is a minor repair or a catastrophic failure of the electrical system, to determine what the next step of the maintenance may be.

Risk based maintenance includes:

  • collecting and analyzing data to determine whether or not there will be a breakdown in the HVAC system
  • ranking the risks according to probability and consequences
  • making up strategies to stay away from unacceptable risks

By checking for any risks in the way that the system runs, plans and processes can be developed to deal with various scenarios

Predictive maintenance

As the rise of Internet of Things technology has added a new door to maintenance planning in commercial building, maybe it will be soon used in HVAC systems. Now, it serves as a smart building platform that continuously monitors equipment performance and building conditions.

How often should you maintenance your air conditioning unit?

It is recommend to get your heating and cooling system checked by a HVAC professional every spring and fall. You would probably be signing a maintenance agreement with you HVAC system company.

How you can perform a preventative maintenance yourself

Even though your AC system needs a bi annual or at least an annual maintenance, there are things you can do to help your perform well before your professional HVAC technician comes for a maintenance check.

maintenance checklist

Maintenance checklist

Change batteries of the thermostat when needed to make sure the HVAC system will never have a problem running

Change or clean your air filter once every 90 days; if you have pets, you might want to change them more frequently.

Sweep the area around the AC unit often, as the air quality and air filter will worsen faster when the air conditioner is sucking up dirt from the floor and into the cooling equipment.

outdoor hvac unit maintenance

How to perform maintenance yourself for an outdoor unit?

If you live in a townhouse or a house, you are most likely to have a unit outside of your home. These types of units have condenser coils and serve as a power supply for the whole AC system.

The absorbed heat from your home passes through condenser coils that are wrapped around the compressor and the aluminum coils. As the fan in the AC lets the air flow pass though the condensing unit, the coils begin to cool.

While that is happening, the gaseous refrigerant charge begins to cool into a liquild like form. Then, the compressor coils increase the refrigerator pressure, therefore increasing its burning point.

This process turns the refrigerant into a liquid that is being pushed in the skinny copper line that returns in to the coils to repeat the same process.

On top of the maintenance checklist listed above, do not forget to:

Clean the area around the unit from any unnecessary outdoor objects like leaves, twigs, and etc.

If you are looking to clean all the coils yourself, here's an article that will help

Learn more in article Stay Cool on a Budget: Expert Tips for Keeping Your Home Comfortable Without Breaking the Bank

steam cleaner for hvac maintenance

Using steam cleaners to perform an AC preventative maintenance

Many homeowners have been incorporating using steam in their everyday cleaning routine. Cleaning the tiles, bathroom faucets and toilets, the couch, and etc. However, what many of them do not know is that you can use the heating of steam for you air conditioner too.

You can make your home family safe, by using steam technology to clean your air conditioners.

By injecting superheated low moisture steam into the air conditioner's vents, ducts and exterior, you will be able to eliminate odors, allergens, dust mites, and improve indoor air quality.

Steam will have you using less energy help maintain your unit, because the high pressure steam will already be doing all the work for you.

If you are tired of buying air filters, all you have to do is:

  • take it out of the unit when the air conditioning system is off
  • vacuum out the dirt
  • steam clean the air filter
  • if it is a little damp, wait to dry, and put back into the ac system
portable steam cleaner for home cleaning

Fortador Volt Mini all around home steam cleaner

This steam cleaner is very versatile in use. It is the most compact model from Fortador, but comes with such a vide range of accessories for the user, that you are sure to tackle any problem in your home.

This highly portable steam cleaner is lightweight, weighing only 16.5 lbs., allowing operators to move it easily in and out of a work van and transport it to the worksite.

Like other Fortador steamers, the Volt MINI's boiler heats quickly, taking only five minutes to produce steam. Unlike other small commercial portable steamers for cleaning, the Volt MINI also works at high pressure and temperatures, giving you 101.5 psi power of steam at a maximum temperature of 338 degrees Fahrenheit. The boiler is made of high-strength AISI 304 stainless steel, attesting to its durability.

About the Authors

Sabrina Tretyakova
In the world of cleanliness and hygiene, Sabrina Tretyakova stands as a beacon of expertise and dedication. As an ISSA-certified cleaning technician, Sabrina brings a wealth of knowledge and three years of unwavering commitment to her profession. Having served a staggering 1,200 clients
Koren Zitser
Vip Air, Panama: 20+ years in global AC excellence. Partners with industry leaders, offers split to large-scale systems, specializing in VRF, Multi V, maintenance, and innovation.

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