While huge apartment buildings dominate the skylines of most large cities, many landlords find themselves managing much smaller structures. Duplex, triplexes, and quadplexes might not have the same complexity level as a skyscraper, but they include their own unique challenges. Managing the HVAC systems for these buildings isn't always straightforward.
If you want to keep your tenants comfortable without destroying your bank account, then it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics of HVAC maintenance. These three tips will help you keep the heating and cooling systems in your building running smoothly and efficiently.
1. Too Often Is Better Than Too Infrequently
If you've spent much time reading about HVAC systems, you've probably already learned that filter changes are among the most critical maintenance tasks you can perform. Clogged filters can reduce system efficiency, increase utility costs, and even wear down expensive components. Relative to these potential issues, the price of a filter replacement is trivial.
Unfortunately, there's plenty of contradictory advice on when to replace HVAC filters. In reality, it depends on many factors. These factors include the filter size, how often the system gets used, and whether pets or smokers are present in the home. As a general rule, it's better to check the filters in your units often and replace them frequently rather than waiting for problems to develop.
2. Don't Ignore Tenant Complaints
HVAC problems won't resolve themselves, and many issues can get worse over time. If one of your tenants reports a problem, you should always take the complaint seriously and investigate as soon as possible. Not only will this make you a better landlord and keep your tenants more comfortable, but it may also save you from a much costlier repair in the future.
In particular, pay attention to complaints about excess humidity or system short cycling. These can be signs of a severe maintenance issue that will require immediate attention to avoid causing additional damage to critical system components.
3. Schedule Yearly Service
Don't rely on your do-it-yourself skills to maintain your building's HVAC system. Since you don't have much control over how your tenants will use your HVAC equipment, it's best to have a professional clean and inspect the system at least once per year. These annual visits will ensure your system operates efficiently so that high-use tenants don't overwork critical components.
Nearly all states make HVAC the responsibility of the building owner and not the tenants. Ensuring that your system is maintained correctly will help reduce your costs and minimize the likelihood of HVAC-related tenant complaints in the future.
Contact a local HVAC technician if you need help with HVAC maintenance.