Fall is right around the corner, which means it's time to start thinking about getting your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system ready for the cooler weather. A well-maintained HVAC system can save every homeowner money on energy bills and prevent costly repairs down the road. In this article, we'll walk through 8 key steps you should take to get your HVAC system ready for the fall season.
The first and most important thing you can do is schedule a tune-up with an HVAC technician before the weather cools down. During a tune-up, the technician will inspect your entire system, making sure all components are in good working order. They'll check refrigerant levels, drain lines, motors, belts, air filters, and more. A tune-up allows the technician to fix minor issues before they become big problems and ensures your system runs as efficiently as possible.
You should plan to get a tune-up done at least once a year, ideally in the spring or fall. Fall tune-ups are crucial HVAC maintenance because they prepare your system for the impending shift from air conditioning to heating. Technicians are often busiest in the fall, so schedule your appointment a month or two in advance if possible.
A dirty air filter forces your HVAC system to work harder than necessary, wasting energy. Most filters need to be changed every 1-3 months. Mark your calendar to remind yourself to swap out the filter regularly.
When changing the filter, make sure you get the correct size. Look in your unit or owner's manual for the right dimensions. Use a gauge to measure the thickness as well. Pleated filters trap more particles than cheaper fiberglass filters, although they cost a bit more.
The condenser unit sits outside and contains the HVAC components that release heat. Over time, plants, grass clippings, leaves, and other debris can build up around and inside the unit. This prevents air from circulating properly.
Carefully clean away any buildup around the condenser with your hands or a soft brush. Be gentle and avoid damaging any pipes or coils. Also check the outdoor unit coils for dirt and grease. Use a hose with a spray nozzle or a coil-cleaning brush to scrub the coils clean.
Dust and other contaminants lurking in your ductwork get blown into the air you breathe each time you turn on your HVAC. While you likely don't need a full duct cleaning, inspecting and maintaining ducts can improve indoor air quality.
Start by peeking inside vents and registers. Use a flashlight to look for any obvious dust or debris buildup. Then, remove the vent covers and shine the flashlight inside the ducts. If you see layers of dust or anything detaching, it's time to call an HVAC company to schedule a more thorough duct cleaning.
Bleeding air from radiators and baseboard heaters prevents cold spots when you switch on the heat for the first time. Air trapped inside the heating pipes gets in the way of hot water circulation.
Locate the valve toward the top of each radiator or heater unit and open it slowly. Place a container underneath to catch dripping water. Once water starts pouring out instead of air, close the valve. Make sure to bleed every unit in your home.
Cracks and gaps around windows, doors, pipes and other openings allow cold air to sneak into your home. This forces your HVAC system to work extra hard during heating season.
Inspect all possible openings and seal them up with caulk or weatherstripping. Pay special attention to areas where different building materials meet, like corners of the wall. Reducing drafts keeps indoor air more comfortable and your heating bills lower.
If you have a fireplace, use it as often as possible to take pressure off your HVAC. But first, make sure the chimney is clean and functioning properly. Combustion byproducts accumulate inside chimneys over time. A professional chimney sweep can remove these dangerous deposits called creosote.
They will also check for obstructions, inspect the masonry for cracks, and ensure the flue is drawing properly. Schedule your chimney cleaning early in the fall so everything is ready when you want to start burning fires.
Ceiling fans can help evenly distribute conditioned air in your home. Make sure yours are spinning in the right direction for the season. Fans should run clockwise on low speed during heating months. The downward airflow will push warm air back down into the living space.
Simply flip the reversible switch on each fan to adjust the direction. Check all your ceiling fans and reverse them before it gets cold out. Running them the wrong way will pull warm air up to the ceiling and leave you feeling chilled.
Inspecting and maintaining your HVAC system before temperatures drop helps keep your home comfortable all winter. Following the tips above will improve the efficiency of your heating, keep repair bills low, and give you peace of mind knowing your HVAC is ready for colder weather.
If your heating system is old or you're having issues, don't hesitate to call in the experts. Guy's Plumbing Heating & Air has been providing full service HVAC solutions to the area for over 42 years. Our certified technicians can tune up your current system or help you replace it if needed. We also offer preventative maintenance plans to keep your HVAC running smoothly year-round. Contact us today to schedule service and stay comfortable this fall!