By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn around the corner, homeowners will soon be planning for the cold months ahead. Cold weather puts additional demand on your heating and cooling system. To prepare your heating system for the heavy work it will need to do, scheduled HVAC maintenance should be on your fall chore list. It’s essential for your system to perform efficiently in order to reduce the risk of repairs at an inopportune or unsafe time, such as during a storm. Here, a skilled technician from Service Experts shares five questions to ask when preparing your furnace for winter.
Once the cold sets in, many companies prioritize repairs over maintenance calls. 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 beneficial 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 vet a contractor, ask what’s included in their furnace maintenance. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer can get hectic, which means it’s easy to forget to swap out your HVAC system’s air filter. Filters trap dust, pet hair and other airborne debris, so exchanging 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 control center for your furnace. You’ll want 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 required. At this point, it’s time to turn it on and listen for any unusual noises or indications 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 your yearly power bill. Whereas a programmable thermostat adjusts 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 modifications can be made even if you are away. For added safety, more sophisticated designs may be joined with your smoke alarms and follow voice commands, in addition to 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.”
Checking your doors and windows for air leaks before the cold weather settles in can save you a lot of stress 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 utility bills.
If you notice an air leak in the fall, you can take preventative steps before winter approaches, 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.”
About 90% of U.S. households don’t have enough insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a big impact on your HVAC system, which will need to work harder to keep up during times of extreme temperatures. Autumn is an outstanding time to look into adding insulation, if you think your home needs it. 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 arrange a tune-up with Service Experts, visit https://www.serviceexperts.com/.
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