By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn coming soon, homeowners will soon be preparing for the cold months ahead. Cold weather adds even more demand on your heating and cooling system. To prepare your heating system for the heavy work it will be doing, regular HVAC maintenance should be on your fall to-do list. It’s crucial 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 technician from Service Experts shares five questions to ask yourself to see if you’re ready.
Once the cold sets in, many businesses give preference to repairs over maintenance appointments. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold ensures that it will be ready for the season. It’s also beneficial to look for a contractor whose team consists of qualified technicians, said Mike Carson, manager of technical training and field operations support at Service Experts. To further vet a contractor, ask what’s included in their routine furnace checks. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer gets busy, which means it’s easy to forget to replace your heating and cooling system’s air filter. Filters trap dust, pet hair and other airborne debris, so replacing 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 nerve center of your heating and cooling equipment. It’s important to make sure it’s in proper running order by flipping it from cool to heat mode, setting your heating setpoints, checking your schedule on a programmable thermostat and replacing the batteries if appropriate. At this stage, you should turn it on and listen for any odd noises or signs the system is struggling to engage.
If the furnace is older, a smart thermostat is a practical product to own. It can save you up to 20% annually on your power bill. While a programmable thermostat modifies settings dependent on the time of day, a smart thermostat also takes into account your behavior. Most brands can be linked to your smartphone so that adjustments can be made remotely. For additional safety, more sophisticated smart thermostats may be connected to smoke alarms and follow 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.”
Looking over your doors and windows for air leaks before the cold weather settles in can save you a hassle later. Not only does this 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 bills.
If you detect an air leak in the fall, you can take preventative steps before winter arrives, such as:
“Avoiding wintertime HVAC issues starts months before winter even begins,” explained Carson. “Take the time now to make sure your home is ready so you’re not paying for it later.”
Around 90% of U.S. households don’t have enough insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a direct impact on your HVAC system, which will need to work harder to keep up during times of extreme temperatures. Autumn is an ideal time to think about adding insulation, if you think your home needs more. But how do you know if 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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