By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn coming soon, homeowners will soon be planning for the winter months ahead. Cold weather puts new demands on your heating system. To prepare your furnace for the heavy work it will soon be taking on, routine HVAC maintenance should be on your fall checklist. It’s essential for your system to perform efficiently in order to reduce the risk 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 considering furnace maintenance.
As soon as the cold weather arrives, many companies focus on repairs over maintenance requests. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold ensures that you’ll have your system ready for the season. It’s also highly recommended 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 evaluate 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 furnace’s air filter. Filters catch dust, pet hair and other airborne particles, so changing a dirty filter with a clean one increases your system’s operational efficiency and boosts 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 heating and cooling equipment. 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 should turn it on and listen for any unusual noises or clues the system is struggling to turn on.
If the furnace is older, a smart thermostat is a valuable purchase. It can save you up to 20% on each year’s power bill. Although a programmable thermostat modifies settings based on the time of day, a smart thermostat also considers your behavior. Most brands can be paired with your smartphone so that changes can be made even if you are away. For increased safety, more sophisticated models may be linked to smoke alarms and follow voice commands, in addition to other helpful 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 colder weather settles in 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 HVAC system to work harder and increase your energy bills.
If you detect an air leak now, you can take preventative actions before winter arrives, 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 heating system, which will have to work harder to keep up during times of extremely hot or cold weather. Autumn is an excellent time to look into adding insulation, if you think your home needs it. But how can you tell when your residence needs more insulation?
“If your attic insulation is less than seven inches deep, it’s inadequate,” Carson explained. “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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