By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn coming soon, homeowners will soon be getting ready for the winter weather ahead. Cold weather places even more demand on your heating system. To prepare your furnace for the heavy work it will soon be taking on, scheduled HVAC maintenance should be on your fall to-do list. It’s essential for your system to operate efficiently in order to reduce the risk of repairs at an inconvenient 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 hits the area, many companies give preference to repairs over maintenance appointments. 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 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 vet a contractor, ask what’s included in their routine furnace checks. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer is a busy time, which means it’s easy to forget to change your heating and cooling system’s air filter. Filters trap dust, pet hair and other airborne debris, so replacing a dirty filter with a clean one enhances 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 explained. “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 heating and cooling equipment. It’s important 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 they are drained. Now, you should turn it on and listen for any unusual noises or signs the system is struggling to start.
If you have an older system, a smart thermostat is a practical purchase. It can save you up to 20% on each year’s energy bill. Whereas a programmable thermostat modifies settings according to the time of day, a smart thermostat also considers your behavior. Most models can be linked 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 follow voice commands, as well as other useful 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.”
Examining your doors and windows for air leaks before the winter weather settles in can save you a headache later. Not only does this cause drafts, making your living space uncomfortable, but the cold air can also lower the temperature in your home, forcing your furnace to work harder and increase your energy costs.
If you find an air leak now, you can take preventative actions before winter hits, including:
“Avoiding wintertime HVAC issues starts months before winter even begins,” noted 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. residences are under-insulated, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a big impact on your heating system, which will need to work harder to keep up during times of very hot or cold temperatures. Autumn is an excellent time to consider adding insulation, if you think your home needs additional protection from the elements. But what are the signs your property 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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