Timberline Blog

The Importance of Inspecting HVAC Control Components Regularly

January 26, 2022 by Timberline

An HVAC system is made up of several different components. This includes devices that control the system such as the control panels on furnaces, condensing units, packaged commercial rooftop units, boilers, etc. Over time, problems can develop in these control components.

intelligent climate control panel

For example, as a device magnetically “pulls in” and “cuts out” over the course of a season, the contacts (i.e., the point where voltage is actually transferred to the component) can become pitted, worn and burned. Or, if a compressor “welds” itself—meaning one of the two or three legs sticks while the others are free—this can cause serious damage to the component it’s controlling, such as a compressor, indoor fan motor, or exhaust fan motor.

The risk of these types of issues resulting in major damage and high repair or replacement costs can be lowered by having control components inspected regularly.

Why Properly Functioning HVAC Control Components Are Crucial to Your Comfort

It’s important to keep your HVAC control systems functioning properly for multiple reasons. First and foremost is occupant comfort. This goes without saying. The reason HVAC systems were developed in the first place was to maintain a consistent air temperature in indoor environments.

Heating and cooling systems also affect air quality in multiple ways. First, they filter the air to remove particulate matter. How much of that matter is removed varies based on the type of filter, but regardless, an HVAC system that runs when it should for as long as it should helps make the air in an indoor environment cleaner. An HVAC system can also increase or decrease the amount of moisture in the air through humidifier and dehumidifier components.

Of course, occupant comfort produces follow-on benefits. For example, keeping a work environment cooled appropriately in the summer months can improve productivity, as employees tend to respond to uncomfortably warm temperatures by slowing down and expending less energy. Similarly in a home environment, maintaining a cool—but not too cool—temperature overnight can promote better sleep and all the advantages that come from being well-rested the next day.

How Properly Functioning HVAC Control Components Save You Money

A control system that is functioning properly helps optimize the performance of the unit it controls, which leads to better energy efficiency and energy cost savings. This is because it takes more energy to reach a desired temperature than to maintain it. So, if a control system starts to malfunction, the heating or cooling unit will work harder than necessary to hold a setpoint.

In addition, when HVAC control systems work effectively, this helps minimize wear and tear on the furnace and air conditioner and all of their various components. Every time a heating or cooling unit kicks on and runs for any period, friction and other forces degrade its parts. It is a very small amount of wear with every cycle, but still, it occurs. Consequently, the less frequently a unit is activated, the less wear it suffers and the longer it is likely to last.

The Power of Preventative Maintenance and Testing

How do you keep minor control component issues from becoming major problems? The key is preventative maintenance and testing. As we noted in a previous blog post on regular servicing of the mechanical aspects of heating and cooling systems (refrigerant levels, lubrication of moving parts, etc.), preventative maintenance by a Timberline Mechanical HVAC technician can identify and correct small issues before they cascade into bigger, more costly problems.

For instance, the discovery of a worn contactor, relay, or terminal strip and the replacement of a part for $50 to $100 can prevent an issue like a compressor failure and help you avoid the $3,000 to $5,000 cost to replace it. The same is true of simple actions taken as part of a preventative maintenance visit like tightening loose terminal connections.

Quick, efficient, regularly scheduled visits can keep HVAC control components and the associated units operating at maximum efficiency and extend the useful life of the equipment.

How often should HVAC control components be checked? That depends on several factors including:

  • The size of the space being heated and cooled
  • The activities that take place in the space (for example, commercial facilities where there is airborne dust and debris might require maintenance more frequently)
  • The number, size and type of heating and cooling units
  • Any special heating, cooling or air quality requirements

Typically, preventive maintenance should be performed annually, with more frequent visits if appropriate.

Some business owners and homeowners schedule two visits from a Timberline Mechanical HVAC technician each year—one in the spring, just before they start using their air conditioning unit, and one in the fall as they prepare to fire up their furnace. And in many cases, the frequency of visits is modified as the system owner and our technicians get a feel for how often service is necessary.

The key is to get started on a preventative maintenance program as soon as possible so that potential problems with control system components can be identified and addressed before they trigger costly failures.

If you have questions about your HVAC control system components, our preventative maintenance services or our expertise in new system design and installation, please contact Timberline Mechanical at your convenience.

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