For most people, winter is synonymous with the holiday season, which means lots of gifts, Christmas carols, and merry-making in the snow. However, winter isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s also the coldest time of the year, with temperatures of up to 30.6 degrees F.
Without a functioning HVAC unit, you and your family would be left freezing in the winter cold. However, proper HVAC maintenance is essential for any HVAC system’s proper functioning and efficiency. The right HVAC tips for winter should put you well on track to surviving the cold season.
Proper HVAC maintenance can be a bit challenging for the average homeowner. If you need help preparing your HVAC for winter, you’re in the right place. Today, we’ll be highlighting a couple of tips for preparing your HVAC system for winter.
- Change Your HVAC Filters
Regularly change your HVAC filters for the smooth functioning of your HVAC. As a rule of thumb, replace your filters every 90 days, or 80 days at the very least. If you have house pets, consider changing them every 45 days because of pet fur and dander.
Fur, dust, and debris build up on your filters with time. This build-up makes it harder for the system to pass air through the vents. Remember, the harder your HVAC has to work, the higher your energy bills.
In severe cases, the clogged filters may render your HVAC inoperable. To be on the safe side, make sure you replace your HVAC filters once every three months. That way, you can lower your energy bills and keep your HVAC in great shape.
- Service Your Chimneys
Make a point of servicing your chimneys even if you don’t use wood or coal with your HVAC. Over time, flammable materials like creosote are likely to build up in your chimney. This build-up hurts the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
Arrange for professional servicing and cleaning to remove the debris inside your chimney. If you own a gas furnace, the servicing will also check for any corrosion or animal activity inside your chimneys.
Chimney servicing is a delicate and complicated task. Ensure you get a reputable heating and cooling company for proper chimney cleaning and servicing.
- Check Your Thermostat
You don’t have to wait till the start of winter to check if your thermostat works. Check your thermostat regularly to prevent the cold season from catching you off guard.
Testing your thermostat is easy. Just set it a couple of degrees higher than the room temperature, then wait a few minutes for it to kick in. If it doesn’t, you may have a problem with your thermostat.
Sometimes the solution is as simple as replacing the batteries. Other times, you may have to replace your thermostat completely. If you must replace your thermostat, consider upgrading to a programmable one for better operability.
- Schedule an HVAC Inspection
Most homeowners schedule their inspection for fall, but if you miss the fall inspection, a winter inspection will do just fine. An HVAC inspection checks for any issues with your unit so you can take appropriate action. Identifying issues with your HVAC early on will help you sidestep costly problems down the line.
Among other things, an HVAC inspection checks for:
- Voltage and condition of electrical components in your HVAC
- Blockages in your filters
- Correct thermostat settings and calibration
- Blockages and clogs in the condensate drain
- Adequate pressure in the gas pipes and refrigerant coil
You must find a proper HVAC inspector for a diligent and comprehensive HVAC inspection. HVAC inspections culminate in reports detailing the condition of the said HVACs. The HVAC inspector might also give a few recommendations on the best ways to improve how your HVAC runs.
- Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide or CO is a byproduct of burning combustible material in your HVAC. These items include propane, gasoline, and oil, to name a few.
Usually, the vents will divert carbon monoxide outside your home. However, blockages and leaks in your vents lead to CO presence inside. Carbon monoxide detectors check for any CO presence so you can take the right steps to remove CO from your house.
Check whether the CO detectors still work to protect yourself from this silent killer. To do so, all you have to do is:
- Hold down the “test” button until you hear two beeps
- After the two beeps, release your finger from the button
- Hold down the “test” button again, but this time, listen for four beeps
- After 15 minutes, your CO detector will return to normal mode
You should hear all six beeps if your CO detector is in good condition. If you didn’t hear all the beeps, try replacing the batteries first. If it still doesn’t beep six times, consider replacing the CO detector entirely.
- Check the Igniter Switch
Make sure you check the igniter switch at least once a year, regardless of your igniter type. You’ll have to look up instructions on the operator’s manual for the correct way to test your ignitor. If you’re having trouble testing your igniter switch, get help from an HVAC specialist.
- Change the Oil Filter
For furnaces that use oil, it’s important to frequently change the oil filter and burner nozzle. Also, don’t forget to refuel your oil tank to get you through winter.
It’s worth noting that oil furnaces require more servicing and cleaning than gas furnaces. The former burns less efficiently, leaving more residue in the heat exchanger. After changing the oil filters, consider servicing the heat exchanger for optimum performance.
- Cover the Condenser Unit on Your AC
Cover the condenser unit found outdoors to protect it from ice and falling debris. Do this before winter since you have to turn off your AC to do so.
You can use a trash can lid or a round or square plywood piece to cover the condenser unit. To hold down the protective cover all through winter, use strong bungee cords.
- Service the Blower Motor
The blower motor is responsible for circulating hot or cool air in your home. Find your owner’s manual to get more information on your blower motor. Most blower motors require regular cleaning and lubricating for proper functioning.
The manual will have details on how to open the blower motor cover and clean it inside it. You’ll also find information on how to lubricate the bearing and what type of lubricant to use. For most blower motors, the servicing process involves:
- Removing the cover
- Taking out and cleaning the bearing caps
- Lubricating the bearings with a suitable lubricant
Servicing your blower motor ensures efficient heating and cooling throughout winter. As such, make it a key part of your routine HVAC maintenance.
- Install New Insulation
The amount of insulation you have directly correlates to your HVAC system’s efficiency. Insulating your home helps keep the air inside your home warm. This reduces the HVAC’s workload, resulting in less energy used for cooling.
So how can you tell you have enough insulation for your home? Well, a simple visual assessment should do the trick.
Experts recommend that your insulation should be enough to block you from seeing the floor joists. If you can’t see the floor joists, everything’s A-okay. Adding more insulation past this has little to no effect on your HVAC’s efficiency.
- Replace the Entire Thing
Winter presents the ideal opportunity to replace it if you have an old, run-down HVAC system. We know replacing your HVAC is a costly endeavor, but it’ll be worth it. That’s because a new HVAC will help you save a bundle in repair and maintenance costs over the next few years.
Before replacing your HVAC, ask for a technician’s opinion on whether it’s time to get a new HVAC unit. They’ll be able to offer sound advice on when to replace your HVAC and where to get a new one.
- Pick the Right HVAC Company for Your HVAC Repairs and Maintenance
Prepping your HVAC for winter may warrant some professional help. Keep the following tips in mind when looking for an HVAC company for your maintenance:
- Do your research on reputable HVAC companies near you
- Check out reviews on authority sites like the BBB
- Get referrals from your workmates and close friends
- Ask to see the HVAC company’s license and insurance before hiring
- Request an estimate to check whether the company is within your budget
- Schedule an in-person consultation with the company
The above tips should help you find the best company for your HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. Don’t forget to explore all your options before picking the right company for your needs.
HVAC Tips for Winter
Be sure to keep the above HVAC tips for winter in mind the next time you’re prepping your HVAC. Maybe try creating an HVAC checklist to ensure you get all the HVAC maintenance touchpoints. Also, don’t be afraid to seek help from an HVAC expert if necessary.
Was this article helpful? For more informative content, be sure to check out the other posts on the site.