A home's heating and air conditioning is critical at all times during the year, and every homeowner should stay up-to-date with regular maintenance. A home inspection can identify any neglected areas with an HVAC system, and this is extra important before each heating and cooling season. Professional fixes are great - but they can be costly - and serious problems are easier to avoid with some general know-how and frequent check-ups. 

Inspect the air conditioning system to keep it functioning

The first item a homeowner should look out for is the air filter in central air conditioners. This quick fix can happen regularly, and neglecting it could lead to more problems, an inefficient HVAC system and higher monthly bills. Don't run the unit without a filter, and read the owner's manual for proper cleaning instructions, according to the DIY Network. 

Additionally, don't forget to check around the unit, as well. Any leaves and debris can encroach on an outdoor air conditioner, which could cause damage. Therefore, make sure there is plenty of space around the outside so it can run properly. A good cleaning doesn't just apply to the air filter, every AC unit's fan blades and coils should be inspected in summer. This way, it will run as efficiently as possible. As a safety precaution, cut the power before performing any maintenance. It is OK to hose down some interior components, as long as important electrical pieces are protected, according to the DIY Network.

A proper HVAC system doesn't just involve cleaning, problems can be spotted by remaining vigilant. Turn everything on periodically and walk around a home. Listen for any unusual noises within the unit or ductwork, and check for bizarre smells that shouldn't be there, according to heating and air conditioning services company Trane. Additionally, adjust the thermostat and make sure that the temperature gauge is working correctly. It's a good sign if the setting changes correspond to the levels in the room. Consider reducing the temperature in a room if it is going to be unoccupied for an extended period of time. Not only will this save money but it will also reduce unnecessary wear on the HVAC system.

If a homeowner has any concerns about proper HVAC maintenance, a property inspection might be able to answer any questions.

Stay on top of the heating system

Regular cleanings aren't just for the air conditioners, since furnaces require a similar level of care. It may not seem like a priority during the warmer summer months, but checking up on the heating system before it is needed is a smart move. Older gas furnaces may become a safety hazard, so when looking them over keep an eye out for any potential leaks.

In addition, clean the burner assembly, the ignition and the flue system, if needed, according to Trane. It helps to look over the airflow ducts for any damage or wear and tear. It is beneficial to catch a problem early on, not only for safety but for energy efficiency. A poorly operating HVAC system can lead to higher monthly bills, and the solution often times is a simple fix. Turn a furnace on and off to see if the entire unit is operating correctly. It is better to know if it can't re-start before the coldest days hit.

Energy Star recommends looking at all of the gas and oil connections in the HVAC system, including the gas pressure and burner combustion. Any hazardous conditions in these parts is not only ineffective, but could also pose a fire risk. Inspecting all HVAC components regularly is a much better solution than waiting for a serious problem to occur before fixing.