By Lorene Moore
When the leaves start falling the temperatures do too. Before winter hits, make sure your HVAC system is ready so you can avoid breakdowns and costly repairs.
Change your filters: The most important thing to do is actually the easiest. Your HVAC system does not work without air flow. Dirty filters stop the air from flowing. An easy comparison is the lint filter in your dryer. If you’ve ever done laundry and tried to dry clothes with a plugged filter, you understand the problem. The more plugged it gets, the less air gets through, the longer it takes for your clothes to dry. It works the same for your furnace. The more plugged your filter gets, the harder your furnace has to work to keep up. That is the number one cause of system breakdowns.
Make sure your programmable thermostat is set properly: Don’t wait till it’s cold outside to find out your furnace won’t come on. When the seasons change, it’s a good time to check your thermostat. Test it by switching it from cooling mode to heating mode. Then set the thermostat for a few degrees above the temperature in the room. If the furnace doesn’t come on, it’s time to get your furnace looked at by a professional.
Run a sound check: You can do this at the same time as testing your thermostat. Either turn it on yourself or when it turns on automatically, listen to how it sounds. If you hear anything unusual, knocking, banging or rattling, call a professional.
Test your carbon monoxide detectors: Carbon monoxide is a silent, lethal killer. Your carbon monoxide detectors are a life saving defense for your family. Make sure you change the batteries at the start of every season. Make changing the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector a regular part of your daylight savings routine. Spring forward, change the batteries. Fall back, change the batteries. Make sure your detectors are placed properly as well. Carbon monoxide detectors are only good for ten years, so while you are checking the batteries, check the date code. If it’s ten years old then it’s time to change more than the batteries.
Check for excess moisture: Moisture on windows, rust around the base of the furnace and dirt accumulations around the vent pipe can be an indicator that your furnace is not working properly.
Check your humidifier: Whole home humidifiers are a great way to keep your family comfortable during the dry winter months. A quick inspection will help make sure it is working right for you. The water reservoir should be removed and cleaned to remove mineral deposits that can build up. Let a cup vinegar soak in the reservoir for 20 minutes, then rinse with water. Don’t forget to refill the reservoir.
Add insulation to your attic and/or crawl space: Exactly how much insulation you need varies based on location, energy efficiency of your home and hvac equipment, and the weather. Adding insulation, specially around the living areas, will help keep the heat in your home, where you want it.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission fireplaces, chimneys, and heating equipment are some of the most common causes of home fires when they are not operating properly. So make sure they are safe for your family by having them checked and serviced regularly.
Have your chimneys checked: Creosote and other flammable materials can build up in the chimneys of your furnace and fireplace. Whether you are burning wood, coal or gas, it’s a good idea to have your chimneys checked for signs of build up, corrosion or animal activity.