You use your HVAC system every day to heat or cool your home. Unfortunately, normal usage of your HVAC system will allow certain components to sustain wear or become dirty. If you've used your HVAC system for years without arranging for regular maintenance, then your system may be putting you and your family in danger. Regularly arrange for these services to keep your HVAC system operating safely:

Heat Exchanger Inspections

Every time you turn up your thermostat, the metal heat exchangers inside your furnace warm the air that circulates throughout your HVAC system. Additionally, the exchangers act as ventilation shafts for the combustion fumes created by your burner assembly.

However, since they're made from metal, your heat exchangers will expand and contract when they become hot or cool, respectively. Over several years, the constant expanding and contracting will cause your heat exchangers to develop small cracks. As you continue to use your furnace, these small, hairline cracks can become relatively large.

Cracks in your heat exchangers will allow carbon monoxide—one of the combustion fumes produced by your furnace—to ventilate out of your furnace and into your home. When inhaled into your respiratory system at a volume of 0.1% or greater (or 100 parts per million), carbon monoxide can cause nausea, unconsciousness, and even death.

Due to the severity of carbon monoxide poisoning, you should not continue to use your furnace if you haven't had your heat exchangers inspected or repaired in more than a year. For this reason, you should have your HVAC technician inspect your heat exchangers just before the winter season begins.

Air Duct Cleaning

Whether you're using your air conditioner in the summer or your furnace in the winter, the air flowing through your home must circulate throughout your air ducts. However, since they're out of sight and easy to neglect, your air ducts are likely filled with dust, allergens, and other similar debris. Additionally, if you've recently experienced a pest infestation, then rodent waste may even be present in your air ducts.

As if these materials weren't bad enough, mold may also be present in your air ducts.

Your air conditioner's evaporator coil becomes extremely cold while your unit is active. When the evaporator coil has been cooling the air throughout your home for several hours, it becomes covered in condensation that can leak throughout your air ducts. When moisture is present in your air ducts, mold will grow and release spores throughout your home.

DIY duct cleaning is difficult to perform since there are only a limited number of entry points into your air ducts—which means you won't be able to remove all the debris from your ducts by yourself. To prevent your family from inhaling mold spores, allergens, and other hazardous materials, you need to have your air ducts professionally cleaned at least once a year.

Combustion Chamber Cleaning

Even though your air filter traps a large amount of airborne debris, it won't trap all the debris circulating in your home. After several weeks of use, your furnace can become filled with dust, pet fur, and other similar debris. If you use your furnace while these materials are inside your combustion chamber, then you'll smell a strange odor throughout your home. However, odor isn't the only issue to worry about while your combustion chamber is dirty—you must also worry about a furnace fire.

Furnace fires occur when the burner assembly or heating elements in your furnace ignite an uncontainable flame that quickly spreads to other areas of your home. A furnace fire will not only destroy your furnace, but also a large area of your home—and that's only if you're able to quickly extinguish it.

If you haven't had your HVAC system serviced in over a year, then minimize your system's usage until you can hire an HVAC technician to perform these types of maintenance. Otherwise, your safety and the safety of your family will be at risk.