It’s a good idea to hire an HVAC company to inspect and do maintenance on your system every fall and spring. They’ll do things like inspect and clean the wiring and mechanisms of the air conditioner and furnace, which are a bit more challenging for the average homeowner.

But you can prolong the life and increase the efficiency of your system if you follow these simple HVAC suggestions.

Here’s an easy, doable preventive maintenance checklist to keep your heating and cooling system in top shape. Some things you should do immediately; other tasks only need to be done seasonally or once a year.

Nine Steps to Prolong Your HVAC’s Life:

1. Buy a better filter if you haven’t already. The new high-efficiency pleated filters have an electrostatic charge that works like a magnet to grab the tiniest particles — even those that carry bacteria.

2. Replace the filter at least every 90 days, but check it monthly. If it looks dark and clogged, go ahead and change it. If you have pets, you’ll probably need to change it monthly.

3. Make sure there’s at least two feet of clearance around outdoor air-conditioning units and heat pumps.

4. Remove debris, such as leaves, pollen and twigs weekly during spring, summer and fall from top and sides of outdoor air-conditioning units and heat pumps. Don’t allow the lawn mower to discharge grass clippings onto the unit.

5. Monthly, inspect insulation on refrigerant lines leading into the house. Replace lines if missing or damaged.

6. Make sure unit is level. Annually, ensure that outdoor air-conditioning units and heat pumps are on firm and level ground or pads.

7. Stave off clogs. Annually, pour a cup of bleach mixed with water down the air-conditioner condensate drain to prevent buildup of mold and algae, which can cause a clog.

8. Never close more than 20% of a home’s registers to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the HVAC system.

9. Replace the battery in your home’s carbon monoxide detector annually.

We all know that HVAC systems are not cheap. It behooves every one of us to take care of our systems as much as possible to alleviate the big repair bills or worse yet, having your entire HVAC system replaced. Ask your local trusted Reator for suggestions regarding a qualified professional to inspect your HVAC unit.

Bob Walsmsith Jr. is the 2022 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR). He is a California licensed real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties here in Santa Barbara. He has served on and chaired several committees within the SBAOR, and served on its board of directors for the past five years. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and