By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn around the corner, homeowners will soon be planning for the winter weather ahead. Cold weather puts even more demand on your heating system. To prepare your heating unit for the heavy work it will be doing, routine 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, an experienced specialist from Service Experts shares five questions to ask yourself to see if you’re ready.
When the cold weather arrives, many companies give preference to repairs over maintenance appointments. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold means that you’ll have your system ready for the season. It’s also worthwhile to look for a contractor with workers who are qualified technicians, said Mike Carson, manager of technical training and field operations support at Service Experts. To further check into a contractor, ask what’s included in their furnace maintenance. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer is a busy time, which means it’s easy to forget to swap out your HVAC system’s air filter. Filters catch dust, pet hair and other airborne irritants, so exchanging a dirty filter with a clean one increases your system’s operational efficiency and promotes 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 nerve center of your HVAC system. It’s a good idea 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 necessary. At this point, you’ll want to turn it on and listen for any unusual noises or signs the system is struggling to turn on.
If you have an older system, a smart thermostat is a worthwhile product to own. It can save you up to 20% annually on your power bill. While a programmable thermostat changes settings based on the time of day, a smart thermostat also factors in your behavior. Most models can be paired with your smartphone so that adjustments can be made even if you are away. For additional safety, more sophisticated models may be connected to smoke alarms and follow voice commands, as well as other convenient features.
“A smart thermostat is an inexpensive, but powerful intuitive device for your home,” Carson remarked. “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 winter weather settles in can save you a hassle later. Not only can it cause drafts, making your living space uncomfortable, but the cold air can also lower the temperature in your home, forcing your heating system to work harder and increase your utility bills.
If you find an air leak ahead of time, you can take preventative measures before winter arrives, including:
“Avoiding wintertime HVAC issues starts months before winter even begins,” said 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. residences need more insulation, 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 more. But how can you tell when your home 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 set up a tune-up with Service Experts, visit https://www.serviceexperts.com/.
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