By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn on the horizon, homeowners will soon be getting ready for the winter months ahead. Cold weather adds additional demand on your HVAC system. To prepare your furnace for the heavy work it will need to do, regular HVAC maintenance should be on your fall to-do list. It’s crucial for your system to run efficiently in order to reduce the probability of repairs at an inopportune or unsafe time, such as during a storm. Here, a knowledgeable specialist from Service Experts shares five questions to ask when considering furnace maintenance.
Once the cold weather arrives, many contractors focus on repairs over maintenance calls. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold means that it will be ready for the season. It’s also worthwhile 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 evaluate a contractor, ask what’s included in their routine furnace checks. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer can get hectic, 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 particles, so exchanging a dirty filter with a clean one enhances 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 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 control center for your HVAC system. You’ll want 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 stage, you’ll want to turn it on and listen for any strange noises or indications the system is struggling to engage.
If the furnace is older, a smart thermostat is a practical purchase. It can save you up to 20% on your yearly electricity bill. While a programmable thermostat modifies settings dependent on the time of day, a smart thermostat also factors in your behavior. Most designs can be paired with your smartphone so that changes can be made even if you are away. For added safety, more sophisticated models may be joined with your smoke alarms and follow voice commands, among other useful features.
“A smart thermostat is an inexpensive, but powerful intuitive device for your home,” Carson noted. “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 colder weather sets in can save you a headache later. Not only could leaks cause drafts, making your living space uncomfortable, but the cold air can also lower the temperature in your home, forcing your HVAC system to work harder and increase your heating bills.
If you detect an air leak now, you can take preventative actions before winter approaches, like:
“Avoiding wintertime HVAC issues starts months before winter even begins,” said Carson. “Take the time now to make sure your home is ready so you’re not paying for it later.”
About 90% of U.S. households are under-insulated, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a big impact on your furnace, which will need to work harder to keep up during times of extreme temperatures. Autumn is an outstanding 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 noted. “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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