By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn on the horizon, homeowners will soon be getting ready for the winter weather ahead. Cold weather places even more demand on your heating and cooling system. To prepare your heating unit for the heavy work it will soon be taking on, regular HVAC maintenance should be on your fall checklist. It’s vital for your system to run efficiently in order to reduce the risk of repairs at an undesirable or unsafe time, such as during a storm. Here, a skilled technician from Service Experts shares five questions to ask yourself to see if you’re ready.
When the cold weather arrives, many businesses prioritize repairs over maintenance requests. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold means that you will be ready for the season. It’s also worthwhile 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 routine furnace checks. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer can get hectic, which means it’s easy to forget to replace your heating and cooling system’s air filter. Filters catch dust, pet hair and other airborne irritants, so replacing a dirty filter with a clean one improves 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 remarked. “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 furnace. It’s important to make sure it’s in proper running order by switching 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, you’ll want to turn it on and listen for any odd noises or clues the system is struggling to start.
If your equipment is getting older, a smart thermostat is a valuable investment. It can save you up to 20% on your yearly energy bill. Whereas a programmable thermostat modifies settings according to the time of day, a smart thermostat also takes into account your behavior. Most brands can be connected to your smartphone so that adjustments can be made even if you are away. For additional safety, more sophisticated designs may be connected to smoke alarms and respond to voice commands, among other convenient 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.”
Checking your doors and windows for air leaks before the cold weather arrives can save you a headache later. Not only can it cause drafts, making your living space chilly in the winter or warm in the summer, but the cold air can also lower the temperature in your home, forcing your heating system to work harder and increase your utility expenses.
If you find an air leak ahead of time, you can take preventative steps before winter approaches, like:
“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.”
Roughly 90% of U.S. residences are under-insulated, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a significant impact on your HVAC system, which will need to work harder to keep up during times of extremely hot or cold weather. Autumn is an ideal time to look into adding insulation, if you think your home needs more. But what are the signs your home needs more insulation?
“If your attic insulation is less than seven inches deep, it’s inadequate,” Carson noted. “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 schedule a tune-up with Service Experts, visit https://www.serviceexperts.com/.
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