HVAC & Home Improvement—DIY or Call the Pros?


air conditioningThe popularity of DIY has grown significantly over the past several decades.  It’s hard to go anywhere without hearing about the do-it-yourself culture or seeing a video urging you to give it a shot. Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or a veteran do-it-yourselfer, there is a rewarding sense of pride gained by accomplishing something you could have otherwise paid a professional to do.  From basic home maintenance to landscaping & HVAC to plumbing, it’s become the norm for homeowners to handle, or at least attempt, certain jobs before calling in a professional.

At Dominion Service Company, we visit many of our clients on a regular basis for routine maintenance and service.  On other occasions, we’re called out to help first-time customers who have reached a roadblock with repairs and installations they’ve started on their own.  It’s impressive, and the confidence in these DIYers never ceases to amaze us—even when our expertise is needed to fix what’s gone wrong.

It’s also the nature of the industry that has made homeowners curious.   There are so many smart technologies and new equipment models that promise energy efficiency and lower operating costs, it’s hard not to want to get in on it.  And with the likelihood of finding an online video or tutorial to guide you step-by-step, who wouldn’t be up for the challenge?  

Related:  Energy efficient smart technologies

Thinking about trying your own HVAC repair or installation?  When it comes to the broad spectrum of HVAC-related jobs, we recommend you tackle the basics and leave the rest to us…

These jobs are DIY-approved

  • One of the most obvious, yet somehow hardest to remember, HVAC tasks is changing the system’s air filters.  Frequency is based on manufacturer’s standards ranging from one month to 90 days.   A dirty filter signals to the system that it must work harder to achieve optimum temperatures.  It can also cause dust and dirt build up which leads to problems with system performance and air quality.
  • Make sure the area surrounding your outdoor equipment is free of leaves and debris; trim shrubs around your home and give any vegetation near the outdoor unit a few feet of clearance.  Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Research the features of your thermostat.  You may think you’re using it to its full potential, but by adjusting settings and trying new features you’ll discover more tools that can help you cut costs and achieve optimum comfort.  Because setting a programmable thermostat incorrectly can actually cost you money, it’s important to learn exactly how yours works, and how it can be set to benefit you in the long term.

Leave these jobs to the pros

  • All equipment installations are jobs best left to a professional.  These are complex systems that often require permitting from local inspections departments. This is not an area where “pinching pennies” is recommended. Central A/C units and heat pumps require a professional’s expertise because of the handling of refrigerant, and special tools required to properly complete the install.
  • Seasonal preventative maintenance should be handled by an HVAC contractor.  Homeowners should not be chemically cleaning coils, messing with electrical components or handling refrigerant. There are many items that need to be accomplished on preventative maintenance visits that most homeowners would typically overlook but are vital in safe/efficient operations of the system.
  • Wireless home automation systems and other smart technologies often include a main control panel as well as sensors and detectors that must connect to various components in your HVAC system.  While you can read how-to instructions, syncing parts of the wireless system with your HVAC equipment can turn disastrous quickly if you aren’t certain you’re doing it right.  These small, yet powerful technologies might seem easy to install, but the tricky part is ensuring a safe connection so that it doesn’t have adverse effects on the rest of your system.

Benefits of hiring a professional HVAC contractor

No matter how much you’ve read up on repairs or installations, it never hurts to bring in a professional to perform HVAC work.  You may not realize, but an HVAC contractor can help you save money on parts, offer extended warranties and eliminate inconvenient system downtime.  Safety is also a big factor in HVAC repairs and installations.  Professional contractors are trained in the latest safety precautions, and understand building permits which is helpful if you’re making structural changes to your home.

Remember, your HVAC system isn’t just a few pieces of equipment.  It’s equipment, ductwork, electronics and a pipe network that intricately work together to provide the comfort and safety you expect.  You can make every effort to avoid an emergency repair, but realize that the more complex repairs or installations you attempt, the higher the likelihood you may need help from a professional.  

For assistance with all your residential HVAC needs, contact Dominion Service Company today at 800-832-0758.