HGTV home renovator shares the most essential home repair you can do

HGTV's hottest renovator Carmine Sabatella debunks why this basic home maintenance job should not be forgotten

Carmine Sabatella sitting at a white desk
(Image credit: McCall and Nikki Ryan Photography)

Keeping your home at a comfortable temperature all year round is made easier with your HVAC unit. But it is, of course, when we witness extreme temperature fluctuations that we really start to appreciate its benefits. Similarly, it's all too easy to realize when it's not working... Easily taken for granted, the importance of basic HVAC filter maintenance and general health checks should never be underestimated.

The cost of installing AC, let alone a whole new HVAC system, in a home is quite expensive, so making sure that yours is in good working order is key for it to be a worthwhile investment. We spoke with renovator and HGTV’s hottest new interior designer, co-host of "Inside Out", Carmine Sabatella about basic home maintenance and which jobs are so not worth putting off. Carmine said 'Honestly, I think it's changing the air filters to your HVAC system. You don't know how many people never change their air filters.'

Why you should change your HVAC air filters

Carmine notes how essential it is to replace HVAC filters, 'Not only is this bad for the air quality in your home and can actually cause allergies, but the build up can clog your system and burn it out.'

If you've been putting this particular job off all year, this could be why your home is overheating right now. Thankfully, there are lots of quick ways to keep a house cool and you can also look to a small portable AC unit as a stopgap while you get yours repaired because it's a big spend. 'To replace a condenser can cost thousands of dollars.' Says Carmine.

Residential HVAC unit installed outside of home topped with power tools and working gloves

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How often should you change HVAC filters?

You should change your HVAC filter every 90 days according to numerous sources.  Jacob Watson, Sr. Director, Contractor Engagement at American Home Shield notes how 'If the air filter is your culprit, changing it will cost merely a fraction of what a professional will inevitably have to charge for a repair' and to ensure A/C efficiency in the future 'Change your air filter every one to three months.'

Leonard Ang, the CEO of iPropertyManagement likewise says that one of the main reasons why your AC unit may not be working is if the filter is clogged or dirty, Ang urges you to 'Check your furnace filter. A clogged or dirty filter can keep your HVAC system from getting the recirculated air it needs to keep your home cool. These are usually easy to find and replace, and it's best to replace them every 90 days.' 

Additionally, if you have kept on top of changing your HVAC filter but still find your AC unit not working or blowing out warm air, Watson advises to check the following: 

  • Is the power on?
  • Is the unit plugged in?
  • Has the circuit breaker been tripped?
  • Are the batteries still working in the thermostat (if it’s battery-powered)?
  • Is the thermostat set to “Cool” (versus “Fan Only”)?
  • Is the thermostat set to a temperature that is below the current room temperature?
  • Are all of the air vents open and unobstructed?

How to maintain your HVAC filters

Carmine adds, 'If you don't want the responsibility any HVAC contractor can set up a quarterly maintenance and they come out and switch it for you for as little as a few hundred dollars a year.'

Carmine Sabatella standing in a green doorway with patterned shirt

(Image credit: McCall and Nikki Ryan Photography)

So sure, if we're choosing between home maintenance and decor, we know which one we'd rather do. But, according to Carmine, you should actually make changing your HVAC filter a priority to keep your system and AC in particular, working as it should for when you need it the most. 

Meanwhile, invest in a good fan, keep windows and drapes closed at the hottest points in the day.

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Camille Dubuis-Welch
Former Deputy Editor

I'm Cam, the former deputy editor of Real Homes who worked on the site from 2020 to 2023. As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing!