Common (but Major) DIY HVAC Mistakes


You want to save money on home maintenance and repairs, so you try to do many of those tasks yourself. While that might be fine when it comes to cleaning and yardwork, many of the systems in your home, like your plumbing and electrical, are much too important, too complex and too dangerous for anyone to work on without proper tools and training.

During the peak of summer or the depths of winter, the last thing you want is for your HVAC system to fail — but if that happens, you should resist the temptation to patch up your system on your own. To convince you, here are a few significant mistakes that many HVAC DIY-ers make, and why you don’t want to make them.

Forgetting to Turn off Utilities

Your HVAC system uses both water and electricity or gas. That means when you tinker with your HVAC unit, you will be messing around with these hazards, too. One wrong move could burst a water pipe causing flooding in your home — or worse, you could cause a problem with the gas line, unknowingly filling your home with combustible vapors that will ignite with the slightest flame.

A smart homeowner will shut off all utilities before even coming close to the HVAC to avoid wreaking even more damage on their home. Once the water, electricity and gas are shut off, there is no risk of flooding or exploding the property.

Using Improvised Tools

Undoubtedly, you have some tools; no homeowner can survive without a measuring tape and a hammer. However, while your tools might have “gotten the job done” in the past, they likely won’t help you service your HVAC. Most HVAC systems use specialized parts that can only be worked with specialized tools, and jerry-rigging something from a coat hanger could irrevocably damage a vital component.

It is especially important to avoid improvising tools in older cities like Philadelphia, where heating and cooling contractors often handle older HVAC systems with even more particular parts. If you must DIY your HVAC, you should invest in a reliable set of tools for the purpose.

Relying Heavily on Duct Tape

Speaking of improvised tools, this lesson is a hard one for most homeowners to learn: Duct tape is not the perfect solution to all problems. Even though “duct” is in the name, tape doesn’t hold up well in HVACs because the dry heat tends to melt the adhesive. While you can use duct tape as a temporary fix to give you time to call in professionals, you shouldn’t expect it to solve your HVAC issue in perpetuity.

Taking Things Apart

The easiest part of any project is demolition. It isn’t difficult to dismantle your HVAC to identify the source of an issue, but fixing the problem and then putting the system back together is quite a different challenge. An HVAC isn’t a simple machine; you should expect to find dozens of small, fiddly or otherwise complex parts as you begin disassembly. Even if you record the order in which you take things off your HVAC, you could damage components, lose them or otherwise be unable to fit things back together.

After taking your HVAC apart, you will likely need to call in a repair professional anyway, and your costs could increase due to your fumbling around with the system. It’s less work for you to call the professional as soon as you recognize a problem and before you take any tools to the HVAC.

Overtightening Screws and Such

It’s an unlikely scenario, but you might be able to take your HVAC apart, fix the problem and put the HVAC back together with some success (or minimal harm). However, the reassembly process requires a delicate touch — something most homeowners don’t have. In an attempt to ensure the unit stays together, you might be tempted to tighten screws and bolts as tight as possible, but doing so could hurt your HVAC. Over-tight connections put stress on the system and could result in cracks and leaks. At best, overtightened HVACs will rattle more loudly, which is a nuisance. Because you can’t be certain of the right tightness, you should leave this practice to the pros.Investing in Cheap Solutions

Worst of all, HVAC DIY-ers are more likely to choose cheap parts and supplies to save money on their system fixes. While in most cases home DIY is a good way to cut costs, you should invest highly in the health and safety of your HVAC. Because cheap parts are often produced with lower-quality materials — which will degrade faster and land you in the same spot sooner — you should put your miser act on pause when HVAC issues arise.

Your HVAC is one of the most important elements of your home, and when it has a problem, you don’t want to make it worse with inadequate tools and insufficient know-how. Before you make a common but major HVAC mistake, call a professional.



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