Now that the craziness of Christmas has passed us, the ritual of New Year’s resolutions begins. This season of thought is filled with preparations and anticipation to start a new year off with momentum and positivity. One preparation many homeowners might overlook is servicing your heater to ensure it is ready for colder months ahead. No one wants their new year’s outlook dimmed by a lack of heat!
Many homeowners might not realize in winter months your home’s HVAC system should undergo a servicing. As we service our air conditioning units in the late spring or early summer, our heaters in the winter need to be checked by a qualified professional as well. Potential issues noticed in your check-up could keep your house warm throughout the winter and operate more efficiently. In the end, this servicing could help your wallet by maximizing the effectiveness of your heating unit thus letting you spend more on keeping those other new year’s resolutions!
Your check-up should start with checking the ductwork and filters in your system. Small issues such as leaky ducts and intakes can cause inefficiencies in your system, leaving you dissatisfied with the warmth your unit provides. Inspect your system’s intake filters for a buildup of dust and other particles. If your filter visually appears dirty and grimy, it is time to replace it. All of the debris and dust caught in the filters can cause them to clog and reduce the amount of air that is able to flow through the unit. A general rule of thumb is to replace your air filter every three months. Always check your unit’s manual for the proper filter requirements and additional notes on replacing the filter.
Another common heating system found in homes are furnaces. These heating systems are generally fueled by natural gas or propane. If your home uses a furnace, be sure that your pilot light is lit. Carbon monoxide detectors are important to have installed in your home when using this type of heating system or gas appliances. A gas leak is extremely dangerous, and carbon monoxide detectors assist in keeping your family safe and aware in case of a gas leak. Lastly, check all of your pipes and connections for leaks to make sure that all gas stays contained in your piping. If you smell any natural gas or propane, immediately shut off all gas sources and valves then call your local gas utility provider or service professional.
Another item to check on your heating system is that your vents are clean. Clogged or dirty vents restrict airflow to your heating unit and can cause your system to work harder than necessary to warm your house. Cleaning your vents also protects from dirt and dust gathering and mixing with condensation, potentially resulting in mold or rust.
The last item on your checklist is reversing your ceiling fans. Most ceiling fans are equipped with a small switch by the motor that controls the direction of the blades. Clockwise direction pulls air up and redistributes warm air through the room. This cycle is better for colder months as warm air will disperse throughout the room. Counter-clockwise rotation pushes cool air downward creating a cooling effect. This direction is best used for warmer months.
If self-servicing your HVAC unit for the winter months is a daunting thought, hire a professional to ensure your unit is ready for the cold ahead. Service professionals have the ability to use thermostats to measure heat output, adjust settings to maximize your unit, and provide tune-ups where need be. Always remember to be safe around gas and call a certified professional if you need help or repairs.