How to Winterize Your HVAC System
Most professional HVAC companies recommend a visit twice a year: once in the spring, before turning on the air conditioning, and once in the fall, before switching over to heat. Staying warm over the winter months is key to your family’s comfort. The Weather Crafters team is made up of highly-trained individuals who can make sure that your heating system is prepped and ready to do its job this winter. Don’t wait until the heat cuts out in the middle of the night, call today to schedule your maintenance visit. There are a few other things you can do to prepare your HVAC system for winter:
CHANGE HVAC FILTER
One of the best and easiest things you can do for your heating and cooling system, throughout the year, is to stay up to date on changing your HVAC filter. Its job is to filter out particles in the air, like dust, mildew, pet dander, bacteria, and other airborne irritants. If the filter isn’t replaced regularly, it becomes clogged and air cannot flow freely through the filter. This causes your HVAC to work less efficiently and puts stress on the system, shortening its lifespan. A clogged filter is also unable to remove irritants properly, which means the air you and your loved ones are breathing is not as clean as it could or should be. Most filters need to be replaced every three months, but the filter itself will tell you how often to change it out. Some factors might decrease the lifespan of a filter, and that is something to think about. If you have pets, smoke indoors, have a wood burning fireplace or stove, live in an area with high air pollution, or if you live with someone with respiratory issues, you might want to consider changing the filter more often, or upgrading to a higher-quality filter. Having a good filter is especially important during the colder months because we spend much more time indoors, viruses are floating through the air during flu season, and we don’t often open windows to allow fresh air in. If you are unsure of how to change your filter, or you want to discuss upgrading to a higher quality one, give Weather Crafters a call and we can walk you through the process.
Make sure all vents are clean, with no cobwebs clinging to them. You can clean them yourself by removing the grate coverings and using a long-necked vacuum to reach down and vacuum any accumulated dust or debris. If you aren’t interested in the dust and mess that cleaning vents comes with, contact Weather Crafters and one of our highly-trained professionals will handle it for you. The average family generates up to 40 pounds of dust in a year, and much of it gets stuck in the air ducts and vents. No one wants to spend the year breathing it in, yuck!
OPEN AND UNBLOCK ALL VENTS
While it may seem like a good idea to close vents in rooms and spaces that you don’t often use in order to save energy, it is actually not a good idea. Take a walk around your home and make sure that all vents are in the open position, and that none are blocked by furniture, drapes, or other obstructions. A blocked or closed vent creates a buildup of air that cannot escape through the vent it has been sent to. As more air builds up, this puts pressure on the HVAC system, which begins to work harder and less efficiently. It can also lead to condensation which grows mold and mildew inside the duct-work. If you do have a significant space that you do not want to heat all the time, contact Weather Crafters and ask about zone heating systems.
CHECK, CLEAR, AND COVER CONDENSER UNIT
With most HVAC systems, outside there is a metal box that is part of your air conditioning. This is called the condenser unit, and you need to make sure it is taken care of during the cooler months, even though it isn’t running. Check to make sure it is clear of leaves, sticks, and other debris so that when the warmer months return, it is ready to go. You can also purchase a cover to place over it to ensure that no debris gets in it. Just don’t forget to take the cover off when you are ready to turn the A/C back on.
SCHEDULE A HEATING SYSTEM CHECK
If your home uses a furnace as part of the heating system, it is important to have it checked out before you begin using the heat. Debris builds up throughout the year and needs to be cleaned out each fall to make sure the furnace is operating efficiently and to keep the air in your home healthy. Carbon monoxide is created when your gas-powered furnace is running, and is safely vented outside the home. A cracked heat exchanger can cause carbon monoxide to leak, which can be dangerous or even deadly. Having an annual check up scheduled for your furnace will lower the risk of carbon monoxide issues, and you can also purchase a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, which makes detection very difficult for people.
CHECK THE THERMOSTAT
After completing everything on the list, give your thermostat a quick test. Switch the thermostat to “heat” and set it to 70 degrees. Once it has reached that temperature, switch the thermostat to “air conditioning” and set it to 66 degrees. If you do not hear your system switch over and begin to cool your home within a few seconds (maybe a minute), then it is probably time to purchase a new thermostat. Consider a smart thermostat that can be controlled remotely with a phone, smart speaker, tablet or other internet-connected device. They allow you to set the temperature of your house according to your needs verbally using a smart speaker or from work or while on vacation using your phone or tablet. Some can diagnose when there is a problem with your HVAC system, or monitor your energy consumption.