HVAC Checklist for the Upcoming Fall and Winter Season
An HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system is one of those household services we often take for granted. It keeps us warm and comfortable in the winters, and cool and refreshed in the summer. It filters and cleans indoor air while maintaining optimal humidity levels. It’s important to assess your HVAC system once a year to ensure you can reap the benefits without running into any problems. Especially as autumn approaches, and the slow switch from cool air to heat is needed, it’s important to do a check-in on your system. Here is a maintenance checklist to follow so you can keep enjoying the fresh air as the seasons begin to change!
Have a backup plan
Even the best HVAC systems will encounter malfunctions and necessary repairs. The cost of hiring a technician and fixing the repairs, especially if it happens more than once, can add up quickly. Having a backup plan in place for such occurrences is crucial. There are plenty of options when it comes to having a plan, one being to hire a technician to take a look at your HVAC system once a year to hopefully spot potential problems before they occur. Another option is to purchase a home warranty service—a contract that will cover the cost of any repairs or replacements of critical systems and appliances in your home, such as an HVAC system. You’ll be glad you put a plan together ahead of time should any malfunctions occur.
Check the filters
Changing the air filters is a key component to maintaining your HVAC system. You might be wondering how often you should replace or clean them, and the answer is that it depends on a variety of factors. Some things to consider are the air filter model that you have—permanent and semipermanent models can be cleaned, while disposable air filters should be replaced instead of vacuumed or washed. Other considerations are the household size, number of pets, total indoor air quality, and air pollution levels around your home. As a general rule of thumb, check the filters every one or two months, and even more frequently if you have a pet or are prone to allergies.
Inspect the carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon monoxide is found in the fumes that are put out by furnaces, stoves, gas ranges or from burning wood in a fireplace—all of which are commonly used in the fall and winter months. Carbon monoxide is a silent, odorless gas that can cause extreme illness and even death. It is imperative that you don’t skip this step in the checklist. Make sure to change the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector at least every six months. If you want to be on the safe side and worry that you might forget to change the batteries, purchase a battery powered back up detector to provide the extra peace of mind.
Clean the ducts
Regular duct maintenance is an essential part of maintaining your HVAC system. Not only does it help the functionality of the system, it also prevents any allergy, asthma and other respiratory problems from flaring up. This important task is not an easy one, so it’s recommended that you hire a professional air duct cleaning service to get the job done. Professionals have all of the proper tools to clean the ducts to help maintain a healthy environment through cleaner air.
Take care of the unit’s surrounding area
Depending on where you live, you might experience true winter weather conditions—snow, hail, sleet, etc. To prepare your HVAC system for fall and winter months, take a peek at the unit outside. Make sure to trim any long grasses around the unit and clean up any foliage that may be piling up. The outdoor condenser should be protected during these seasons which can be done by using an air conditioner cover or even a piece of wood to lay over the top. A barrier on top will prevent the elements from affecting the unit.
Adjust the thermostat
With every change of season, it’s important to adjust your thermostat appropriately. This item on your fall checklist will keep your electric bill from spiking, as long as you’re adjusting the thermostat properly. It might seem counterintuitive that you could save money during the fall and winter months when the heat is required at all times. However, the thermostat temperature doesn’t have to be set to an extreme level for warmth and comfort. It’s suggested that your home’s thermostat be set around 70 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal warmth without driving up your electric bill. Additionally, the thermostat can be adjusted to turn the heat down in the middle of night while everyone is sleeping. Taking the time to make this adjustment will save your finances in the long run.
Keep the vents open
In the chilly months of fall and winter, it can be tempting to close vents in one room in an attempt to make another room warmer and more comfortable. However, this can put a heavy burden on the system and force it to work harder than it’s meant to. In turn, it could lead to damage or unwanted repairs. It’s okay to shut a few vents but leave a majority open! Instead of closing vents, opt for a cozy blanket to stay warm.
Rotate ceiling fans
Ceiling fans are often added to a home and then forgotten about unless it needs to be repaired. An interesting fact about ceiling fans that often goes unnoticed is that the rotation of the fan pushes air in a certain direction. In the summer months, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise in order to push cool air down to the floor. In order to prepare for the fall and winter months, rotate your fan so it’s spinning clockwise and pulling cool air up toward the ceiling. Knowing that heat rises, this push of cold air will cause the warmer air to travel down the room, keeping you warm during months you need it most. Many people find that they can turn their thermostat down by using this ceiling fan hack. This is a quick task on the checklist—all you have to do is toggle the switch on the motor and you’ll be good to go!
Follow this checklist while you’re preparing your HVAC system for the fall and winter season. Knowing the system is in good working order will prevent repairs down the road while ensuring the air in your home is safe and clean!