As winter looms closer and cold weather creeps up on the Capital District, the time to conduct fall HVAC maintenance is now. As you run through the usual routine of winterizing your home and property – raking leaves, scheduling a chimney sweep, testing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – make sure you are also performing the necessary upkeep so that your HVAC system runs efficiently all winter long.
The Importance of Fall HVAC Maintenance
Most emergency service calls that heating specialists respond to result from improper HVAC maintenance, especially during a season as busy as winter. Prevent waking up to a winter weather nightmare – a freezing cold house with no heat or hot water, frozen pipes, or even burst pipes – by performing or scheduling fall HVAC maintenance now, before the frenzy of the holiday season hits and it’s too late!
Not only does fall HVAC maintenance help prevent possible emergency situations during the winter, it also improves the efficiency of your system. Fall HVAC maintenance should ensure that your system runs in the most cost-effective way possible, so your home will be comfortable and warm and your energy bills reasonable.
Finally, performing fall HVAC maintenance can prevent issues that affect the health of your home’s inhabitants. For example, an HVAC system with poor ventilation will trap dust indoors, which can lead to respiratory conditions like asthma, allergies, and cold symptoms. Inadequate insulation can let cold air into the home – another problem that may complicate respiratory illnesses. Help keep the inhabitants of your home safe, happy and healthy by preventing these issues from happening in the first place with proper fall HVAC maintenance.
Common Problems That Fall HVAC Maintenance Helps Prevent
When your home’s HVAC system isn’t running properly – an issue that can be righted simply by performing routine fall HVAC maintenance – the following issues may crop up, especially during the winter.
Rooms That Are Too Cold or Too Hot
Inconsistent temperatures around the house may be caused by poor duct system design, duct leakage, air leakage, inadequate insulation, or problems with your HVAC system. This can affect the comfort and health of your family members and can lead to an increase in utility bills.
Excess moisture inside the home, coupled with inadequate insulation, can lead to condensation and, in the winter months, frost on windows and sills. The wetness can eventually become a breeding ground for mold.
Doors, windows, light fixtures, electrical outlets, and gaps in corners are common culprits for air leaks around the home, according to home energy improvement company Green Homes America, Less common – but more difficult to fix – causes of leaks include holes hidden in basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Such air leaks may lead to cold and drafty rooms and cause your HVAC to work harder to warm up the entire home, driving up energy bills.
Ice and icicles that form on roofs can wreak havoc on your home during the winter. Ice damming occurs when poor insulation or air leakage sends heat up to the attic, warming the roof and making snow melt faster than it normally would. The melted snow runs down the roof slope and collects at the cold overhang, where it refreezes and forms icicles.Sometimes this packed ice will create a dam that forces water under shingles and into the ceiling or even walls inside the home.
Per Green Homes America, damage from ice damming may include:
- A leaking roof;
- Structural damage;
- Rotting timber;
- Wet, ineffective insulation;
- Stained or cracked drywall or plaster;
- Blistered, stained, or peeling paint;
- Property damage and potentially serious injury from falling ice.
Taking the time now to seal leaks to keep warm air inside your home’s dwelling area, and not the attic, can prevent this from happening.
Fall HVAC Maintenance Checklist
Now that the why behind fall HVAC maintenance has been explained, learn about the tasks that make up a thorough seasonal upkeep routine.
Schedule a home energy audit
If this year marks the first time you are undertaking fall HVAC maintenance, schedule a home energy audit with a trusted specialist. The auditor will evaluate energy features like:
- the home heating and cooling systems;
- doors and skylights;
- ventilation systems;
- and more.
Audits help identify solutions to improve energy efficiency and lower utility bills. An audit will also help pinpoint which fall HVAC maintenance projects you should prioritize before winter.
Inspect and service the furnace
Have your furnace inspected and replace the filter to ensure it will keep your home and family warm all winter, while reducing energy costs. Replacing furnace filters is a relatively inexpensive and easy task. Therefore, make sure your furnace runs on clean filters to better distribute heat throughout the home.
Take a look at your attic – if you notice any exposed joists, add more insulation. Angie’s List advises that the amount of insulation your attic needs depends on where you live. The colder the climate, the more you should add to your attic.
Seal drafty areas
Now is the time to caulk, seal, and weatherstrip around windows and doors. This common fall maintenance activity helps prevent drafts from letting cold air inside this winter. This is especially important if you do not have installed sturdy new energy efficient windows. You should have your ventilation and duct system inspected for leaks and have those sealed as well.
Prevent frozen and burst pipes this winter by insuring pipes are insulated. In particular, insulate any pipes located on exterior walls of the home. Angie’s List recommends cleaning pipes and plumbing lines, which removes clogs that potentially cause backups. Additionally, pipes and lines may freeze during cold weather, leading to burst pipes. Finally, improve the efficiency of your water heater by draining sediment and build up before the cold weather sets in.
Clean registers and vents
Help keep proper air flowing through your home by cleaning registers, ducts and vents. Cleaning these components help to keep them free of debris, which can keep your HVAC system from functioning normally.
Clean the gutters and the chimney
Help prevent buildup that can lead to ice damming by cleaning leaves and debris from your gutters this fall. It’s also a good time to schedule a chimney (and fireplace) cleaning. Why? These can be used as a source of heat and to prevent house fires caused by debris.
Replace old, faulty and ineffective appliances
Even the most thorough of fall HVAC maintenance is futile when applied to a faulty, outdated, and ineffective appliance. Though the cost of replacing any part of your HVAC system may be hefty, it’s well worth it! Ineffective appliances potentially lead to emergencies. As a result, help avoid emergency service during the winter by replacing old, faulty appliances. Also, efficient appliance help reduce potential health, safety, and environmental problems. Plus, switching to a new and efficient system will decrease energy bills in the long run.
A.Johnson Heating, Cooling and Plumbing offers Capital District families with reliable fall HVAC maintenance services. Additionally, our team provides expert furnace installation, repair and annual tune-ups that help increase the longevity and efficiency of your HVAC system. For more information on how our team can help improve your home heating needs, call today!