Winter is fast approaching, and that means it’s time to prepare your home for the stresses of cold weather, snow, and ice. In all the work of securing your house, it can be difficult to properly maintain your HVAC system. Luckily, we’re here to provide the necessary steps to protect your HVAC throughout this stressful season.
Remember, before you conduct any inspections or maintenance, turn off all power to the unit.
Clean or Replace the Air Filter
The first and easiest step is your air filter. A dirty or outdated air filter will cause your furnace to work harder than it needs to, driving up your expenses and putting stress on your system. You usually can find the filter on the return vent near your HVAC unit. Regardless of your unit type, it will usually be located within the ductwork nearest to your HVAC unit. Conduct your first replacement at the beginning of the cold months and do so at the first of every month for the remainder of the winter. While conducting your first replacement, check the vent for debris or obstruction.
Check Your Devices
Before it gets really cold, turn your furnace on and off at least three times. You need to make sure that the system is completely functional before it’s needed, since the off-season can unexpectedly wear down the furnace. You should also check all related ventilation, since wildlife and falling leaves can quickly block vents. Make sure that there’s no material within three feet of the furnace before activating it.
Next, inspect your thermostat. Ensure that it has fully charged batteries, and that it is properly functioning across every temperature point. To reduce energy costs during the winter, you’ll need to be able to turn down your heat whenever you’re out of the home. If your thermostat isn’t properly responsive, it can drive up your energy bill. If your energy consumption has been high in past winters, a programmable thermostat might be a helpful way to schedule your HVAC usage.
If your thermostat isn’t functioning properly, the issue might be with the electronics or faulty wiring. If you’re unable to resolve these issues on your own, consider calling a professional.
If your HVAC system involves an exterior heat pump, you should check it thoroughly prior to snowfall. Look for blockages, cracks, or a fan not functioning at a proper speed, which would indicate that the motor has worn out. If your pump is unable to defrost itself properly, accumulated snow and ice will rapidly break the device down.
If your furnace uses a pilot lite, you need to make sure that it’s properly activating. First, locate the burner chamber door at the bottom of the furnace. Open the door and look for a small metal tube. You should ideally see a small blue flame when the furnace is functioning properly. The light should be burning brightly—if the flame is weak or barely visible, you should call a professional immediately.
If your furnace is turning off immediately after activating, it means that your flame sensor is either dirty or damaged. You can clean the sensor yourself, but if you’re not confident doing so or the sensor appears to be damaged, you should contact a professional.
Finally, test if your HVAC unit is distributing air effectively throughout the home. If your vents have a low airflow, it could mean that excessive usage during the summer has worn out your belt. If you’re only noticing lower airflow in one or more of your vents, it would indicate that there is probably a blockage in your vents.
If you’ve noticed any of these issues, or you need assistance evaluating your home, our team of professionals have the experience to inspect your unit and provide the perfect solutions tailored to your needs. Contact us today to begin protecting your home for winter.