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What’s Included in an HVAC Tune-Up & Why Do I Need One?

Young african american couple planning budget together at home, writing notes to notebook, creating a checklist

You probably don’t think about your HVAC system until something goes wrong. But HVAC maintenance is crucial for ensuring the efficient, safe, and reliable operation of your system. Regular maintenance offers multiple benefits, including improved energy efficiency, consistent indoor comfort, enhanced air quality, reduced risk of breakdowns, and extended equipment lifespan.

What is an HVAC Tune-Up?

An HVAC tune-up is a preventive maintenance service performed by a qualified technician to ensure that your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is functioning efficiently, safely, and reliably. 

The primary goal of a tune-up is to optimize the system’s performance, extend its lifespan, and prevent potential issues before they become costly problems. Experts recommend that you schedule a professional HVAC tune-up at least twice a year – spring for cooling systems and fall for heating systems. 

How to Prepare for an HVAC Tune-up

Clear the Area: Ensure easy access to both the indoor and outdoor components of your HVAC system. Remove any furniture, plants, or other items that might be in the way.

Clean Around the Units: Clear away any dust, leaves, or debris from around your HVAC units. While the technician will clean the internal parts, cleaning the surroundings helps prevent immediate recontamination.

Check the Filters: If your filters are dirty, replace them before the tune-up. A clean filter can allow the technician to better assess the system’s operation.

List Your Concerns: List any issues you’ve noticed, such as unusual noises, odors, or fluctuations in temperature. Discuss these with your technician at the start of the visit.

Be Available: Plan to be home during the tune-up and available to answer any questions the technician may have.

How Much Does an HVAC Tune-Up Cost?

A typical HVAC tune-up costs between $190 to $225 depending on the type of unit. For example, a gas or electric furnace, mini split, or water heater is about $190. A gas fireplace, boiler, or oil furnace is $225. These prices are also subject to change.

Remember, regular HVAC tune-ups can enhance the efficiency and longevity of your system and keep maintenance costs down. Jacobs Signature Club gives you options. We offer a variety of maintenance plans to keep your system running efficiently and reliably. All our agreements feature Saturday service, scheduling reminders, and monthly payment options.

How Long Does It Usually Take?

The length of an HVAC tune-up can vary depending on a few different factors, such as the type of system being serviced and the condition it’s in. In general, though, a standard HVAC tune-up should take around 1 to 1.5 hours to complete. However, if any repairs or replacements are needed during the tune-up, the time required may increase.

Do I Have to Be Present For The Appointment?

Yes. Being available to let the technician into your home, direct them to your indoor and outdoor HVAC units and answer any questions your tech might have will help your appointment go smoothly.  

Would I Be Notified If Something Is Broken Or Needs to be Repaired?

During a standard HVAC tune-up, there are three basic phases: inspection, cleaning, and service. The need for repairs during the service phase will depend on whether any problems were detected during the inspection. There are several common HVAC issues that may need to be repaired during an HVAC tune-up:

  • Dirty Air Filters
  • Refrigerant Leaks
  • Dirty Evaporator Coil
  • Faulty Thermostat
  • Electrical Issues
  • Condenser Issues

HVAC Tune-Up Checklist For Your Scheduled Appointment

A comprehensive HVAC tune-up involves a variety of tasks to ensure that the system is functioning efficiently, safely, and reliably. Here’s a checklist of tasks typically included in an HVAC tune-up:

  • Inspect and replace air filters: Check the condition of the air filters and replace them with customer stocked filters if necessary to maintain proper airflow and indoor air quality. If we provide the filters we will charge. 
  • Clean and inspect indoor and outdoor coils: Clean the evaporator and condenser coils to remove dirt and debris, improving heat exchange efficiency.
  • Check refrigerant levels: Verify that the system has the appropriate amount of refrigerant and inspect for any leaks or issues with the refrigerant lines.
  • Inspect and clean the blower assembly: Clean and adjust the blower components, ensuring proper airflow and system efficiency.
  • Examine electrical connections and wiring: Inspect all electrical connections, tighten any loose connections, and check for signs of wear or damage in the wiring.
  • Test thermostat calibration and settings: Confirm that the thermostat is accurately reading and maintaining the desired temperature settings.
  • Lubricate moving parts: Apply lubrication to motors, bearings, and other moving parts to reduce friction and prolong equipment life.
  • Inspect and clean the condensate drain: Ensure that the condensate drain is clear of blockages and functioning properly to prevent water damage or mold growth.
  • Check safety controls and switches: Test safety features such as pressure switches, limit controls, and flame sensors to ensure they are functioning correctly and providing adequate protection.
  • Evaluate system performance: Measure airflow, temperature rise, and overall system efficiency to identify any potential issues or areas for improvement.
  • Inspect ductwork: Examine the duct system near the indoor unit for obvious signs of damage including leaks, obstructions, or buildup of dust and debris that could impact system performance and indoor air quality.
  • For combustion heating systems (furnaces, boilers): Inspect the burner assembly, heat exchanger, flue system, and gas connections for signs of wear, corrosion, or damage. Also, check for proper combustion and venting to ensure safe operation.
  • For heat pumps: Verify that the defrost cycle is functioning correctly and that the reversing valve is operating properly.
  • Listen for unusual noises: Identify any abnormal sounds that may indicate an issue with the system’s components.
  • Review findings and recommendations: After completing the tune-up, the technician should provide a summary of their findings and recommend any necessary repairs or adjustments to optimize system performance.

Benefits of an HVAC Tune-Up

Overall, an HVAC tune-up is an important part of maintaining your system and ensuring that it is operating efficiently. By catching these common issues early and repairing them quickly, you can avoid more serious problems down the line and save money with a host of benefits:

  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Extended energy efficiency
  • Reduced repair costs
  • Enhanced comfort
  • Safety
  • Warranty compliance
  • Less carbon emissions

Cost Savings and Energy Efficiency

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an HVAC tune-up can save you up to 15% on your energy bills. This means that if you have an average annual energy bill of $1,200, you could save $180 per year by having your HVAC system tuned up every year.

Avoid Costly Repairs With Regular HVAC Tune-Ups

Regular HVAC tune-ups play a crucial role in identifying and addressing minor issues before they escalate into major, costly repairs. Regular maintenance helps prolong the lifespan of your furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner. The cost of replacing an entire HVAC system can be substantial – typically ranging from $4,000 to $12,000. 

You can also avoid emergency HVAC repairs which can be significantly more expensive than scheduled maintenance visits. Regular tune-ups reduce the likelihood of sudden system failures that require urgent, often costly, professional attention.

What Happens If I Never Get An HVAC Tune-Up?

Neglecting regular HVAC tune-ups can lead to decreased efficiency, reduced comfort, poor indoor air quality, increased repair costs, safety hazards, and a shortened system lifespan

Imagine that one hot summer day, when the temperature outside is unbearable, your air conditioning suddenly stopped working. Desperate for relief from the heat, you call a Jacobs HVAC technician to come and fix the problem. The technician arrives and inspects the system, only to discover that years of neglect had led to a buildup of dirt and debris throughout the components. 

The air filters were clogged, the coils were covered in dust, and the fan motor was struggling under the strain. The lack of regular maintenance had caused significant wear and tear on the HVAC system, and now, multiple parts needed replacement. The cost of these repairs was much higher than what you would have paid for routine tune-ups over the years.

To avoid these issues and ensure the optimal performance of your HVAC system, it’s essential to schedule routine maintenance with a qualified technician.

Peace of Mind and System Reliability

As the fictional (but all-too-often-seen-by-our-technicians) scenario above demonstrates, the reliability of your HVAC system, especially during extreme heat or wintry conditions, is vital to peace of mind that your family will stay comfortable no matter the weather.

Frequency of HVAC Tune-Ups

The frequency of HVAC tune-ups depends on the specific system and environmental factors, but generally, it is recommended to schedule a tune-up at least once or twice a year. Older systems may need more frequent maintenance. 

How Often Should I Schedule an HVAC Tune-Up?

For air conditioning systems: Schedule a tune-up in the spring before the cooling season begins. This ensures that your system is in optimal condition and ready to handle the increased workload during the hot summer months.

For heating systems (furnaces, boilers, heat pumps): Schedule a tune-up in the fall before the heating season starts. This helps ensure that your system is functioning efficiently and safely when you need it most during the cold winter months.

For combined heating and cooling systems (such as heat pumps): It’s a good idea to schedule tune-ups twice a year – once in the spring for the cooling function and once in the fall for the heating function.

Importance of Professional HVAC Maintenance

HVAC systems are fairly complex machines and neglect or even small DIY mistakes can cause long-term damage that may reduce the efficiency of the system and costly repairs. Jacobs HVAC professionals have years of experience and training that allows them to diagnose and repair issues quickly and efficiently. 

HVAC Tune-ups in Portland

A well-functioning HVAC system is crucial for maintaining your home’s comfort. It keeps your home cool during summer and warm in winter. However, it requires regular care and maintenance, just like any mechanical system, to run smoothly. Without proper care, your HVAC system will start to break down, costing you more money in repairs and ultimately shortening its lifespan.

Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning offers a variety of HVAC maintenance plans to keep your system running efficiently and reliably. All our agreements feature Saturday service, scheduling reminders, and monthly payment options. Our repairs and service are Energy Star Compliant and meet the ACCA national standards for residential maintenance. Jacobs technicians are trained in the latest technology and equipment. They are tested and certified through North American Technician Excellence (NATE) so you never have to worry about the quality of our service.

About the Author

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Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.