By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn around the corner, homeowners will soon be preparing for the cold months ahead. Cold weather places even more demand on your HVAC system. To prepare your heating unit for the heavy work it will be doing, scheduled HVAC maintenance should be on your fall to-do list. It’s vital for your system to operate efficiently in order to reduce the probability of repairs at an inconvenient or unsafe time, such as during a storm. Here, a knowledgeable specialist from Service Experts shares five questions to ask yourself to see if you’re ready.
As soon as the cold hits the area, many contractors give preference to repairs over maintenance appointments. Getting your HVAC system tune-up done before the first bite of winter cold assures that you will be ready for the season. It’s also beneficial to look for a contractor who employs qualified technicians, said Mike Carson, manager of technical training and field operations support at Service Experts. To further evaluate a contractor, ask what’s included in their tune-up. Here are a few must-haves:
Summer is a busy time, which means it’s easy to forget to change your heating and cooling system’s air filter. Filters capture dust, pet hair and other airborne irritants, so replacing a dirty filter with a clean one enhances 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 remarked. “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 control center for your heating and cooling equipment. It’s important 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 necessary. Now, you should turn it on and listen for any unusual noises or signs the system is struggling to engage.
If your equipment is getting older, a smart thermostat is a practical product to own. It can save you up to 20% on your yearly power bill. While a programmable thermostat changes settings according to the time of day, a smart thermostat also considers your behavior. Most designs can be linked to your smartphone so that adjustments can be made even if you are away. For increased safety, more sophisticated models may be connected to smoke alarms and be controlled by voice commands, as well as other useful features.
“A smart thermostat is an inexpensive, but powerful intuitive device for your home,” Carson remarked. “The learning curve will be long forgotten once you start enjoying the convenience and energy savings it offers.”
Examining your doors and windows for air leaks before the cold 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 notice an air leak in the fall, you can take preventative steps before winter arrives, such as:
“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. households don’t have enough insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a direct impact on your heating system, which will have to work harder to keep up during times of extremely hot or cold weather. Autumn is an ideal time to look into adding insulation, if you think your home needs additional protection from the elements. But how do you know if your property 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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