By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn on the horizon, homeowners will soon be planning for the winter months ahead. Cold weather puts new demands on your HVAC system. To prepare your furnace for the heavy work it will be doing, routine HVAC maintenance should be on your fall checklist. It’s essential for your system to run efficiently in order to reduce the probability of repairs at an inconvenient or unsafe time, such as during a storm. Here, an experienced professional from Service Experts shares five questions to ask when preparing your furnace for winter.
Once the cold weather arrives, many contractors prioritize repairs over maintenance requests. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold assures that you will be ready for the season. It’s also important to look for a contractor who employs qualified technicians, said Mike Carson, manager of technical training and field operations support at Service Experts. To further evaluate a contractor, ask what’s included in their tune-up. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer gets busy, which means it’s easy to forget to change your heating and cooling system’s air filter. Filters catch dust, pet hair and other airborne particles, so exchanging a dirty filter with a clean one enhances your system’s operational efficiency and elevates indoor air quality.
“When you don’t replace the filter, the system needs to work harder to pull in air, which can lead to early failure,” Carson said. “Some homeowners will choose a cheap fiberglass filter. They’re less expensive, but pleated filters trap more dust and particles. On the other hand, some can be too thick and restrictive. During your tune-up, ask the technician to suggest which filter is best for your system.”
Your thermostat is the brain of your HVAC system. It’s a good idea to make sure it’s in proper running order by changing it from cool to heat mode, setting your heating setpoints, checking your schedule on a programmable thermostat and replacing the batteries if they are drained. Now, it’s time to turn it on and listen for any unusual noises or clues the system is struggling to engage.
If the furnace is older, a smart thermostat is a valuable purchase. It can save you up to 20% on your yearly electricity bill. Although a programmable thermostat changes settings dependent on the time of day, a smart thermostat also takes into account your behavior. Most designs can be paired with your smartphone so that changes can be made when you aren’t home. For even more safety, more sophisticated models may be connected to smoke alarms and be controlled by voice commands, among other useful features.
“A smart thermostat is an inexpensive, but powerful intuitive device for your home,” Carson noted. “The learning curve will be long forgotten once you start enjoying the convenience and energy savings it offers.”
Examining your doors and windows for air leaks before the cold weather sets in can save you a hassle later. Not only could leaks cause drafts, making your living space unpleasant, but the cold air can also lower the temperature in your home, forcing your HVAC system to work harder and increase your heating costs.
If you find an air leak in the fall, you can take preventative measures before winter arrives, including:
“Avoiding wintertime HVAC issues starts months before winter even begins,” noted Carson. “Take the time now to make sure your home is ready so you’re not paying for it later.”
Roughly 90% of U.S. homes are under-insulated, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a big impact on your heating system, which will be forced to work harder to keep up during times of extremely hot or cold weather. Autumn is an outstanding time to consider adding insulation, if you think your home needs it. But how can you tell when your property needs more insulation?
“If your attic insulation is less than seven inches deep, it’s inadequate,” Carson said. “Adding more will probably save you another 20% on your energy bill. Inconsistent room temperatures and drafts could also be signs of poor insulation. Services like blower door testing, home energy audits and infrared cameras can help determine where your home may need more insulation as well.”
To learn more about HVAC maintenance or to arrange a tune-up with Service Experts, visit https://www.serviceexperts.com/.
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