By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn coming soon, homeowners will soon be getting ready for the cold months ahead. Cold weather adds even more demand on your heating system. To prepare your heating system for the heavy work it will be doing, regular HVAC maintenance should be on your fall checklist. It’s crucial 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, a skilled specialist from Service Experts shares five questions to ask when considering furnace maintenance.
As soon as the cold sets in, many contractors prioritize repairs over maintenance appointments. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold means that you will be ready for the season. It’s also beneficial 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 is a busy time, which means it’s easy to forget to change your heating and cooling system’s air filter. Filters capture dust, pet hair and other airborne debris, so replacing a dirty filter with a clean one enhances 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 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 nerve center of your furnace. It’s a good idea to make sure it’s in proper running order by changing 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, you’ll want to turn it on and listen for any unusual noises or clues the system is struggling to turn on.
If you have an older system, a smart thermostat is a useful investment. It can save you up to 20% annually on your energy bill. Whereas a programmable thermostat modifies settings based on the time of day, a smart thermostat also considers your behavior. Most designs can be paired with your smartphone so that modifications can be made even if you are away. For additional safety, more sophisticated models may be linked to smoke alarms and follow voice commands, in addition to other convenient features.
“A smart thermostat is an inexpensive, but powerful intuitive device for your home,” Carson said. “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 sets in can save you a lot of stress later. Not only can it cause drafts, making your living space unpleasant, but the cold air can also lower the temperature in your home, forcing your HVAC system to work harder and increase your utility expenses.
If you detect an air leak now, you can take preventative steps before winter approaches, like:
“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.”
Roughly 90% of U.S. homes are under-insulated, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a significant impact on your furnace, which will be forced to work harder to keep up during times of very hot or cold temperatures. Autumn is an outstanding time to consider adding insulation, if you think your home needs additional protection from the elements. But how do you know if your property needs more insulation?
“If your attic insulation is less than seven inches deep, it’s inadequate,” Carson said. “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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