By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts
With autumn coming soon, homeowners will soon be getting ready for the winter weather ahead. Cold weather places additional demand on your heating and cooling system. To prepare your furnace for the heavy work it will be doing, scheduled HVAC maintenance should be on your fall checklist. It’s crucial for your system to run efficiently in order to reduce the probability of repairs at an inconvenient or unsafe time, such as during a storm. Here, an experienced specialist from Service Experts shares five questions to ask when considering furnace maintenance.
When the cold hits the area, many businesses prioritize repairs over maintenance calls. 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 important to look for a contractor whose team consists of qualified technicians, said Mike Carson, manager of technical training and field operations support at Service Experts. To further vet 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 furnace’s air filter. Filters capture dust, pet hair and other airborne particles, so changing 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 said. “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 brain of your HVAC system. It’s a good idea to make sure it’s in proper running order by flipping it from cool to heat mode, setting your heating setpoints, checking your schedule on a programmable thermostat and replacing the batteries if required. Now, it’s time to turn it on and listen for any strange noises or signs the system is struggling to turn on.
If the furnace is older, a smart thermostat is a practical investment. It can save you up to 20% on each year’s electricity bill. Although a programmable thermostat modifies settings based on the time of day, a smart thermostat also considers your behavior. Most models can be paired with your smartphone so that modifications can be made when you aren’t home. For even more safety, more sophisticated smart thermostats may be joined with your smoke alarms and respond to voice commands, as well as other useful features.
“A smart thermostat is an inexpensive, but powerful intuitive device for your home,” Carson said. “The learning curve will be long forgotten once you start enjoying the convenience and energy savings it offers.”
Inspecting your doors and windows for air leaks before the winter weather arrives can save you a lot of stress later. Not only does this cause drafts, making your living space chilly in the winter or warm in the summer, but the cold air can also lower the temperature in your home, forcing your HVAC system to work harder and increase your utility costs.
If you find an air leak now, you can take preventative measures before winter arrives, such as:
“Avoiding wintertime HVAC issues starts months before winter even begins,” explained Carson. “Take the time now to make sure your home is ready so you’re not paying for it later.”
Around 90% of U.S. households are under-insulated, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. That can have a significant impact on your HVAC system, which will need to work harder to keep up during times of extremely hot or cold weather. Autumn is an outstanding time to think about adding insulation, if you think your home needs more. But how do you know if your home 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 set up a tune-up with Service Experts, visit https://www.serviceexperts.com/.
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