HVAC basics for first-time homeowners

First-time homeowners may be surprised by how much upkeep a home requires. Maintenance of vital home systems – like plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) – can be intimidating. The more you know about HVAC basics, the more prepared you’ll be to maintain this system.

It’s important to know which tasks are DIY (do-it-yourself) and which repairs and maintenance should be managed by your local HVAC professionals.


Always keep your outdoor HVAC compressor/condenser clean and free from debris. Check inside and remove grass clippings, leaves, etc. This can prolong the life of your unit.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is now recognized as having a big impact on our health. As a homeowner, the most important HVAC task is regularly changing your air filter. The air filter traps impurities and particulates; if it becomes blocked, your HVAC unit works twice as hard. As a result, your IAQ is not great and could even be dangerous to your health.

If you are using a high-quality air filter, change it at least every 3 months. If you use a budget-brand air filter or someone in your home suffers from allergies or respiratory distress, change it every month. Here’s how:

  1. Shut off HVAC unit.

  2. Remove air filter access panels.

  3. Remove old filter.

  4. Find printed arrows on new filter.

  5. Insert new filter/close access panel.

  6. Turn HVAC system on.

Changing the air filter often can prolong the life of your HVAC unit. The filters don’t cost much, and HVAC repair that can result from not changing them can be expensive.

Professional HVAC Maintenance

Here in the Phoenix area, we don’t have many winter-weather extremes. Still, semi-annual – fall and spring – professional HVAC maintenance is critical. It’s one of the most important HVAC basics for homeowners.

What we do during your spring and fall maintenance visits:

  • Adjust blower components for proper airflow.

  • Check controls and equipment cycling to ensure it starts, runs, and shuts off properly.

  • Check refrigerant charge, look for any leaks, and add more refrigerant.

  • Clean the blower (if needed).Clean the outdoor condenser coil and the indoor evaporator coil. (Dirt on the coils causes your HVAC system to run longer and work harder. This raises energy bills and reduces your unit’s lifespan.)

  • Ensure electrical connections are intact.

  • Inspect condensate drain for obstructions/leaks.Inspect duct systems.

  • Lubricate moving parts to avoid motor friction.

  • Measure current/voltage on system motors.

  • Test thermostat settings.

When Should You Replace Your HVAC System?