By: Danielle Heeds
Depending on where you live, you’re starting to get really psyched or really sad about the prospect of packing up your shorts and bathing suits and breaking out your favorite sweaters and boots. But in addition to prepping your wardrobe, it’s also time to start prepping your home for fall, starting with your heating and cooling unit. Your system has most likely worked overtime to keep your home cool this summer, so with the changing of the seasons, give your unit some extra TLC to ensure it operates with maximum efficiency for a cozy fall and winter. These four simple steps will keep your HVAC system running smoothly from season to season.
Be Proactive: Have Your Unit Serviced
If you’ve ever had to call for HVAC repair, this step may be the scariest, as you probably have post-traumatic stress about the last bill you received. But don’t fret! You’re not in crisis, and your unit is not broken; you’re just getting a tune-up. Your HVAC technician will inspect your system and give it a thorough cleaning. This simple, routine maintenance can improve your home’s air quality, while also increasing the efficiency and the lifespan of your unit, which will ultimately save you money!
A professional HVAC technician can also spot potential hazards before they become a problem. They will look for signs of electrical damage, which is a potential fire hazard. They’ll also make sure that summer storms haven’t made your unit unstable, ensuring your unit is securely affixed to the ground. They may also point out overgrown shrubbery and any other items that could potentially obstruct airflow, reduce your unit’s performance, and lead to expensive repairs.
Check Your Filters and Replace Every 90 Days
Staying on top of your air filters is one of the easiest ways to keep your HVAC system running well. A dirty or clogged filter causes your system to work harder and run longer, which isn’t great for your system or your monthly utility bills. If you’ve never changed your air filter before, or if want to make sure you are doing it correctly, here’s a helpful step-by-step guide with video.
Most filters can be replaced every 90 days, but there are some extenuating circumstances that should make you consider changing your filter more often. For instance, do you have pets? Whether they have short or long hair, hair can easily be sucked into the filter, along with pet dander. Not only will this quickly clog your filter, but it can also diminish the air quality in your home—especially problematic for people who are allergic to pet dander or who suffer from respiratory illnesses like asthma. Additionally, if you check your air filter prior to 90 days and it’s dirty, change it and consider investing in a more expensive and effective filter.
Give Your Heating System Time to Warm Up
The first time you turn your heat on this fall, you should expect a slight burning smell. Your heating system has most likely sat unused for the last 4-5 months, and some elements have most likely collected dust. As that dust burns off, it will emit a slight smell throughout your home, but that smell should go away after a few uses. Give your heating system time to warm up (almost like you would a car on a cold day) by setting it to low as cooler days and nights approach.
Throughout the Fall, Check and Clean Your Outdoor Fan
If you had an HVAC technician inspect your unit, be sure to ask them how you can regularly clean your fan, otherwise consult your manufacturer’s instructions, often available online. Fall leaves and other debris can make your unit very noisy and reduce its performance. To clean the fan, first turn off the power to your system at the circuit breaker. Next, remove the grate covering the fan. Be sure to keep all screws or attachments to replace later. Remove any leaves or other debris and use a wet towel to clean any dirt from the fan blades. Finally, replace the grate and making sure it’s on tight and that there are no leftover pieces!
Repairing or replacing your HVAC system can be very expensive, and problems always seem to arise at the least ideal time. Take a weekend this month to invest your time in some preventative maintenance so you can rest easy this fall, enjoying the high points of the season like the leaves turning colors, apple picking, and pumpkin everything.