By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn around the corner, homeowners will soon be preparing for the winter months ahead. Cold weather places even more demand on your HVAC system. To prepare your heating system for the heavy work it will need to do, routine HVAC maintenance should be on your fall to-do list. It’s vital for your system to perform efficiently in order to reduce the risk of repairs at an undesirable or unsafe time, such as during a storm. Here, a skilled professional from Service Experts shares five questions to ask when considering furnace maintenance.
When the cold hits the area, many businesses focus on repairs over maintenance appointments. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold ensures that you will be ready for the season. It’s also beneficial 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 check into a contractor, ask what’s included in their furnace maintenance. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer gets busy, 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 particles, so changing a dirty filter with a clean one increases 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 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 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 appropriate. At this stage, it’s time to turn it on and listen for any strange noises or clues the system is struggling to engage.
If you have an older system, a smart thermostat is a worthwhile purchase. It can save you up to 20% annually on your power bill. Although a programmable thermostat modifies settings dependent on the time of day, a smart thermostat also takes into account your behavior. Most designs can be connected to your smartphone so that modifications can be made remotely. For increased safety, more sophisticated designs may be linked to smoke alarms and respond to voice commands, among other helpful 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.”
Inspecting your doors and windows for air leaks before the cold weather sets in can save you a hassle later. Not only can it 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 utility costs.
If you notice an air leak in the fall, you can take preventative steps before winter hits, including:
“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. residences need more insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a big impact on your HVAC system, which will be forced to work harder to keep up during times of very hot or cold temperatures. Autumn is an ideal time to think about adding insulation, if you think your home needs it. But what are the signs your property 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 set up a tune-up with Service Experts, visit https://www.serviceexperts.com/.
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