By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn around the corner, homeowners will soon be planning for the winter months ahead. Cold weather puts even more demand on your heating and cooling system. To prepare your heating system for the heavy work it will be doing, 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 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 weather arrives, many contractors prioritize repairs over maintenance appointments. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold ensures that you’ll have your system ready for the season. It’s also highly recommended 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 tune-up. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer can get hectic, which means it’s easy to forget to swap out your furnace’s air filter. Filters catch dust, pet hair and other airborne debris, so exchanging a dirty filter with a clean one increases 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 said. “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 HVAC system. 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 they are drained. Now, it’s time 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 useful purchase. It can save you up to 20% on your yearly electricity bill. While a programmable thermostat adjusts settings dependent on the time of day, a smart thermostat also considers your behavior. Most brands can be linked to your smartphone so that changes can be made when you aren’t home. For additional safety, more sophisticated smart thermostats may be connected 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 said. “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 winter 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 furnace to work harder and increase your utility costs.
If you find an air leak ahead of time, you can take preventative steps before winter hits, including:
“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 need more insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a big impact on your furnace, which will have to work harder to keep up during times of very hot or cold temperatures. Autumn is an outstanding time to look into adding insulation, if you think your home needs it. But how can you tell when 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 arrange a tune-up with Service Experts, visit https://www.serviceexperts.com/.
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