The Ultimate guide to HVAC Maintenance in Florida

Believe it or not our A/C or HVAC units are part of our localized ecosystem. They're usually the coolest part of the family, and often don't get the credit.

However like all mechanical systems in our lives, they do require maintenance, arguably less than some people we see here in South West Florida.

We're going to address the upkeep and maintenance that we the "Average Joe" can perform to maximize the efficiency, minimize the cost of operation, and keep the HVAC unit as the coolest part of the Family.

For starters HVAC stands for Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning, but we non-technical people call them AC Units for short.

These are the Systems seen like "Window Shakers", "Portables" or unseen such as "Central Air" or "Ductless Mini splits" that keep our homes and apartments and other areas cool and mildew/mold free.


Some of the Easiest Maintenance that has the most impact on your HVAC system is simply changing the Air Filter.

The filters should be checked at least every 30 days.

Most Systems have a disposable filter that you simply slide-out, dispose of and slide-in a new one.

Other Systems can have reusable or washable filters, most of which only require you to rinse them out under cold or warm water, shake out and replace.

Using soap or cleaners on these filters is not recommended.


Another Easy part of the maintenance process to check is the drain pan.

If the drain pan is dry, that is usually a good sign. Even if it isn't dry, that is still a mostly good sign.

If the drain is holding water and there is a "Slimy" or "Thickness" to the water or the pan sides, this isn't is a good sign.

This means that there could be a minor blockage in the the drain pan or drain piping (where equipped) and their is mold, mildew or other potentially harmful contaminates in the water.

There are a few easy steps to ensure the drain pain is draining properly.

First, if you have access to do so, check the drain line connection to the drain pan. Usually you can see a buildup there.

Using a Plastic or Metal Straw and poking through the blockage can generally get the pan flowing again. To help prevent the "Slimey" or "Thickness" from building up, and help keep the drain and drain pan clear.

Consider buying and placing a bleach tab (the kind you use for your toilet bowl works as well- however sometimes you have to break those up).

Break up the bleach tab and carefully (with latex gloves or other hand protection), place the pieces of the tab in your drain pain. If you can, adding additional pieces close to corners and near the drain connection can also help.

The Bleach that gets released from the tab will begin to sterilize the water and prevent growth of organic contaminates in the drain pan.

Use Solid Tabs, if you are going to use anything to clean the water in the pan. You can also buy "Pan Tablets" to help control the foul odor and fungal/baterial growth in your A/C Drain Pan and keep it clean.


Liquid bleach can potentially react with something in the drain pan, and could cause a chemical reaction that the AC system will then carry into the air and spread around the house/apartment.

If you want to use a liquid, consider good old fashioned Distilled White Vinegar, this is just as effective and can be economical as well.


The Coils on your AC System (usually seen when you remove the filter) and are what helps pass air through the system to be dehydrated and cooled. Since these coils have a small gap between them, they can get easily clogged with dust, hair, and other things. But you can easily clean them yourself.

All you will need is a wet lint-free cloth (do not use paper towels). Simply wipe the coils in the same direction that they are going. If the Coils are going left to right, wipe left to right. If the coils are vertical wipe from the top down. Wipe the coils slowly and with care.

Wiping them too fast can result in the Coil fins getting damaged, and you yourself getting injured. The Coils can be sharp.

Some Systems may have a wire and clip on sensor. A Gentle tug away from the coils will remove the Temperature/Air Flow sensor and you can also wipe it down with a lint-free cloth.

To Replace that sensor gentle push it back in the spot where it was removed.

For Deeper Cleaning that using a cloth won't get, consider purchasing a Stiff Bristle Brush (you can get one at more hardware stores) and use that to brush out anything that my be caught in the coils.

There are Spray-on / Hose off coils Cleaners that you can buy, however it is strongly suggested that if you have to go that route that you contact a Licensed and Certified Technician to do it. Some of these cleaners can be caustic and if improperly used can lead to damage or illness.


It does help to usually do a quick inspection of your Vents. On some systems the Vents are at the Top or Bottom of the Unit. On Central Systems the vents are located through out your house/apartment and are generally in walls or cielings.

Check the vents for obstructions, dust or build up. In most cases you can simply wipe the vents clean, or move the external obstruction.

If there is no air coming out the vent and the system is working, there could be other issues, such as a blockage in the duct.

If that happens to be the case you would want to contact your Local HVAC Service and schedule an appointment.


If so equipped, your system may have a Heater or Heat pump. To prevent that nasty "Burning" or "Burning Hair" smell from coming out of it in the Cooler months, cycle through the heating settings once a quarter.

Yes, you many still still that undesirable burning smell, but it will dissipate quicker with routine cycling. What causes that smell is an accumulation of dust, hair and other contaminants that flow freely though the air, and get stuck on the Electric Heating Elements or Coils. Think of these similar to the Rings of your Stove Top's Burners, they're very similar.

When those are on and something you're cooking hits them, they burn. Similarly with the elements/coils in your HVAC System's heating systems.

Simply cycling them on occasionally prevents the buildup on the elements, prevents that horrible smell and prevents possible fires from erupting inside the system.

Cycling them on for a few minutes every quarter doesn't hurt anyone or anything and keeps them clean.


This can happen for a number of reasons. Mostly, due to high humidity in the air. Humidity, as most of us in Florida know, is water in the air, and water when cooled can freeze.

This could be nothing, or it could be signs of other issues with your HVAC Unit. In Either case, simply turn off your HVAC unit and let the System defrost naturally.

DO NOT TURN ON YOUR HEATER if so equipped, as this can cause damage to the components in your system, and potentially to you and your home/apartment.

The Ice will defrost naturally and drain into your drain pan. A General Rule is to let it defrost for a full 24 hours before turning your system back on.

While the system is off, supplement your air cooling needs with fans. If this is happening with regular frequency, contact a Licensed HVAC Technician to assess the problem.


Florida has a lot of shrubbery, and it grows non-stop. Keeping the shrubbery clear of the HVAC System helps air flow into and out of the system, keeping it top running order.

For those systems that encased periodic checking an cleaning out of the encasement can help keep the system running smoothly.

If you do notice unusual growths (like Wasp Nests or other things) that shouldn't be on the system call an HVAC Technician to help clear these obstructions from the system. Doing so yourself may damage the system, and result in higher repair costs.