Maintenance Helps Avoid Plumbing, HVAC Repairs

Bruce Davis Sr.
Written by Bruce Davis Sr.
Updated March 23, 2015
Regular maintenance on your home’s plumbing, heating and cooling systems is vital for safe, smooth and economic operation. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Todd B. of Daytona Beach, Florida)

Prevent costly surprises: Spring into maintenance to keep your plumbing, heating and cooling systems running smoothly.

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“Spring forward, fall back.” That was the way we always remembered when to change our clocks from standard to daylight saving time.  

Now that I’m in the plumbing, heating and cooling business, I have a new saying this time of year: “Spring into maintenance.” I can tell you from experience that it's well worth remembering.

Either way, you pay

Regular maintenance on the mechanical systems (plumbing, heating, cooling) in our homes and businesses is vital for safe, smooth and economic operation, and to ensure our investment lasts as long as possible.

Some regular maintenance is annual, some biannual, but all of it is recommended by the manufacturer, and required by all manufacturers if your system is still under warranty. (Otherwise the warranty is void.)

Many of us have a tough time doing or even accepting the importance of regular maintenance because we just don’t know what is needed. It’s important to educate yourself, whether you do the maintenance yourself or pay a professional.

One way or another, we all have to pay. Either we invest in getting educated and acting on what we learn; we invest in paying for professional maintenance; or we pay for not knowing, with repairs and downtime, because we didn’t choose to learn.

An expensive lesson learned

This reminds me of my first car, an older Ford Galaxie 500. It was in fantastic shape mechanically because my dad had just put a new 289 V-8 engine in it for me — free! I loved that car and drove it thousands of miles the first year and a half.

One day I noticed a little smoke following me down the freeway. I watched for a few days and sure enough, my new engine was smoking!

I described the problem to Dad, who immediately asked:

 “Have you checked the oil?”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “it’s a couple quarts low… but it’s not making that ‘clicking’ noise or anything yet. I was gonna put in at least a quart next payday.”

Under Dad’s questioning I admitted that, faced with some cash flow problems, I hadn’t changed the oil in nine months.

“Well son, you have ruined your engine. We talked about maintenance. I told you how often to change your oil, right? RIGHT!!!!!!???”

I paid for the new engine this time. And I learned the most valuable lesson about regular maintenance: Doing is far less expensive than not doing.

Maintaining Your Investment

Learn more about plumbing, heating and cooling upkeep with these Angie's List guides:

● Water heaters

● Plumbing

● HVAC

● HVAC Maintenance

Knowing what to do

While they didn't raise us, manufacturers still want to help us keep our equipment working well. In most homes and businesses, that will require annual (spring or fall) or biannual (spring and fall) maintenance on some or all of the following items and systems:

● Water heater or hot water tank (electric, gas or propane).

● Furnace and filters (electric, gas, propane or oil).

● Heat pump or air conditioner; outside unit and inside air handler, coil.

● Fireplace and/or stove and chimney.

● Hydronic systems: boiler and all hydronic radiation (space heaters, radiators, radiant floor heating). Also, hydronics for the hot water tank.

All education comes at a cost. Tuition for my life lesson with my first car was a V-8 engine. You can pay in relatively small, budgeted amounts or all at once due to a big surprise or emergency. The choice is yours.

RELATED: Don’t let new water heater rules surprise you

Get set in spring

So… need a reminder to keep your equipment in tip-top shape? "Spring into maintenance!” If you're short on time and training, sign up for regular maintenance by a licensed professional. If you like to do it yourself, check Angie’s List and other reliable sources for good information on maintenance tasks you may be able to tackle.

As of March 23, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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