By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn around the corner, homeowners will soon be preparing for the cold months ahead. Cold weather adds 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 vital for your system to run efficiently in order to reduce the risk of repairs at an undesirable 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.
Once the cold hits the area, many contractors prioritize repairs over maintenance calls. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold means that you’ll have your system ready for the season. It’s also worthwhile 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 tune-up. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer can get hectic, which means it’s easy to forget to replace your heating and cooling system’s air filter. Filters capture dust, pet hair and other airborne debris, so changing a dirty filter with a clean one improves your system’s operational efficiency and promotes 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 HVAC system. It’s important to make sure it’s in proper running order by switching 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 should turn it on and listen for any odd noises or indications the system is struggling to start.
If the furnace is older, a smart thermostat is a worthwhile investment. It can save you up to 20% on each year’s power bill. Whereas a programmable thermostat modifies settings based on the time of day, a smart thermostat also considers your behavior. Most models can be paired with your smartphone so that adjustments can be made even if you are away. For added safety, more sophisticated designs may be linked to smoke alarms and follow voice commands, among other helpful 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.”
Examining your doors and windows for air leaks before the winter weather arrives can save you a hassle later. Not only could leaks cause drafts, making your living space unpleasant, but the cold air can also lower the temperature in your home, forcing your furnace to work harder and increase your utility costs.
If you find an air leak in the fall, you can take preventative actions before winter arrives, 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.”
Roughly 90% of U.S. homes are under-insulated, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a direct impact on your furnace, which will be forced to work harder to keep up during times of extreme temperatures. Autumn is an excellent time to think about adding insulation, if you think your home needs more. But what are the signs your home needs more insulation?
“If your attic insulation is less than seven inches deep, it’s inadequate,” Carson explained. “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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