How often should a HVAC system be serviced? Expert advice for lower utility bills

Find out how often your HVAC needs servicing to keep it running smoothly and efficiently, and to avoid doing it too often.

Green office room with desk, chair and other decorative furnishings with an HVAC appliance on the wall
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With all of the comfort our HVAC systems bring, they do come with demands of regular maintenance. One important step is to make sure you're servicing your HVAC system regularly. 

This shouldn't be ignored, either. Neglecting to look after our heating and cooling systems can lead to them working inefficiently, driving up our utility bills while providing a lesser quality of air control, leading you to start bringing out the best fans in a heat wave. It also leads to bigger problems and malfunctions down the line. 

So, how often should you be servicing your HVAC system? We spoke to the technical AC experts to find out how to make sure yours is well-maintained and running smoothly.

How often should a HVAC system be serviced?

It's best to service your HVAC system at least annually, but ideally you should be doing it twice a year: once before summer and once before winter.

'Have your system professionally cleaned and inspected twice annually,' says Heidi Gehring, director of residential HVAC product manager for Carrier. She adds that servicing is an essential step to take for the system's efficiency and will help to keep utility bills in check.

'During normal air conditioner operation, dust, dirt, moisture from humidity or condensation, and microbial growths can build up on internal components. Left unchecked, these issues can corrode components like the evaporator coil and condenser coil,' she explains.

Tony Abate, VP and CTO at AtmosAir Solutions, elaborates on this: 'An HVAC system not properly serviced can cause germs, mold, dust, bacteria and airborne viruses to build up due to poor air filtration and ventilation systems. All can trigger allergy attacks and illness in a home.'

Air con

(Image credit: GettyImages)

There's even a term known as 'dirty sock syndrome,' Tony adds, 'where build-up on the evaporator coils of the HVAC system can cause a foul-smelling odor to emit from the vents.'

Regular maintenance is important so that 'a technician can identify minor issues and address them before they escalate into more significant and expensive problems,' explains Melanie Powers, president of Goodberlet Home Services. She recommends that a good time to book a service is 'in between peak seasons like summer and winter, where the HVAC system will be used more.'

Heidi agrees, adding: 'Homeowners should evaluate their equipment prior to the summer months as an increase in maintenance and service calls during warmer months can lead to limited technician availability. Spring is the perfect time to schedule your maintenance.'

'Having your air system regularly serviced, cleaned and those filters changed will ensure good air delivery and better performance. For added health and wellness, enhanced technologies like bi-polar air ionization devices integrated into your HVAC system can help to neutralize spores and other contaminants,' explains Tony.

So, aside from servicing, your HVAC still needs regular maintenance, like replacing the air filters and remembering to clean your HVAC system.

To minimize your utility bills further, here's what not to do in a heatwave to put less stress on your HVAC system.

There's no denying that the best air purifiers will filter out the finer airborne particles that AC filters can't handle. It also might be worth comparing fans vs air conditioners, to see if you can get by with less of this maintenance.

Dan Fauzi
Home Tech Editor

Dan is the Home Tech Editor for Homes & Gardens, covering all things cleaning, smart home, sound and automation across the Solved section. Having worked for Future PLC since July 2023, Dan was previously the Features Editor for Top Ten Reviews and looked after the wide variety of home and outdoor content across the site, but their writing about homes, gardens, tech and products started back in 2021 on brands like BBC Science Focus, YourHomeStyle, Homes & Antiques and Gardens Illustrated.

Dan is based in Bristol, UK with a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Magazine Journalism. Outside of work, you'll find them at gigs and art galleries, cycling somewhere scenic, or cooking up something good in the kitchen.