Prevent Heating System Surprises this Winter
Neglecting HVAC maintenance ensures a steady decline in its performance while energy use steadily increases.
The main purpose of preventative maintenance is to keep your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system up and running all season long with no surprise breakdowns—all while operating at top efficiency. You rarely see your HVAC system, so it’s easy to forget about it and its importance.
Imagine doing the same with your car: Without scheduling regular oil changes, rotating the tires, or performing basic tune-ups, you can’t expect it to last very long. Your HVAC system is the same way! The price or brand name of the system’s manufacturer doesn’t matter—it’s a complicated piece of mechanical equipment and requires occasional tune-ups. A smart homeowner can greatly reduce the incidence of repairs by keeping on top of annual maintenance.
Now that summer has ended, it’s the perfect time to prepare your HVAC system for the cold with a bit of TLC.
Homeowners should schedule a professional HVAC system maintenance once in the spring for cooling equipment and again in the fall for the heating system. Between these visits from the professionals, plan to complete a few maintenance tasks yourself. The following DIY tasks can help keep your equipment running smoothly until the next visit from the pros:
- Before the first frost, test your heater to see if it runs. Contact a professional if you don’t feel any warm air coming from the vents.
- Check the pilot light if you have a natural gas system. The flame should always be clear blue. A yellow or orange flame could be a sign of a problem.
- Change your furnace filters each year. Dirty filters cause the unit to work harder to push the warm air through the filter, causing your unit to run less than efficiently and possibly break down.
- As with air conditioning, make sure there are no drapes, furniture, or plants blocking the vents. Proper flow of air from the vents will ensure that the heat coming from the system will reach all spaces that need it.
- Clear any obstructions from outside vents to allow for proper air flow.
Prep You Should Leave to the Pros
With the change of the seasons, your heating system needs more than just regular maintenance. A professional service technician will provide a complete maintenance inspection and recommendations based on the condition of the equipment. His understanding of the most common winter failures can provide a starting point to help determine whether a repair or replacement is needed.
A technician will:
- Check for the correct amount of refrigerant;
- Test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector;
- Capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system, instead of illegally releasing it to the atmosphere;
- Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems;
- Measure airflow through the evaporator coil;
- Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure the heating and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously;
- Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary;
- Oil motors and check belts for tightness and wear;
- Check the accuracy of the thermostat;
- And so much more.
As you can see, annual HVAC system maintenance is something you should take very seriously. Schedule a visit now to protect your family, improve efficiency, prevent possible breakdowns, and to save money! Heating and cooling systems seem to have a way of breaking down when the weather is at its worst—on the coldest night of a frigid winter or during a sizzling summer heat wave—times when your comfort system must work the hardest and you need it most. Conducting regular HVAC preventive maintenance with knowledgeable professionals is the best way to ensure trouble-free operation and optimum performance all winter long.
For more information on preparation for the winter months, call (919) 467-8823 or (919) 367-0102 or click here.
(Sources: U.S. Department of Energy; HomeAdvisor, Inc.; HGTV.com; HVAC.com; Direct Energy, Inc.; and HVACmaintenance.org.)