Fall is the season of change, falling leaves and pumpkin spice everything. In the fall, homeowners are busy preparing their property for the winter. From the extra task of raking leaves to sealing cracks and applying weather stripping to keep the cold out, there are many tasks on your to-do list. But there is one part of your autumn routine you cannot forget… HVAC maintenance.
Fall is the perfect time for an HVAC tune-up. After the sweltering temperature of summer, but before the wintery chill blows in, give your HVAC unit a little TLC. Seasonal preventative maintenance is key to ensuring your HVAC system runs both efficiently and effectively. Tasks as basic as changing filters can greatly impact overall HVAC operations. Some preventative maintenance tasks are simple to remember, while others are often forgotten. Likewise, you can probably perform some of the simple tasks yourself, while others should only be conducted by a licensed Aire-Tech HVAC professional.
Below is our checklist of Fall maintenance tasks to keep your HVAC systems operating at peak performance all winter long. This will not only keep your system in good shape, but it will help save you money in the long run!
1. Change the HVAC Filter
One of the simplest yet most important preventive maintenance tasks is replacing air filters regularly. We all know dirty air filter can obstruct your HVAC system’s efficiency, forcing it to work harder to get the job done. This added stress on your system could end up damaging essential parts and costing you more in higher utility bills.
At the minimum, change the filter twice a year when converting from heating to cooling and again when converting back to heating again. Ideally, filters should be changed quarterly, or in some environments, as often as monthly for best results.
If you have a pet, their dander and fur could clog up the system. Pet owners should consider purchasing a high-efficiency pleated air filter next time. These filters feature a folded design, allowing the filter to trap smaller particles. When your filter is working at its best, you can keep the air in your home clean and your family healthy.
2. Clean Compressors
While most fall HVAC maintenance involves preparing the furnace for operation, it is also important to remember steps to improve the unit’s annual decommission. Cleaning the HVAC compressor is especially important if you have an outdoor compressor, as it is easy for dirt, leaves and debris to build up throughout the year.
After turning off the power to the unit, use a soft brush and a vacuum to clean the fins of your compressor. You can also straighten any bent fins that you notice as you are vacuuming. Once you have vacuumed the outer area of your compressor, you should detach the top of the unit and carefully lift the fan outside. Vacuum the inside of your compressor unit and wipe down any remaining dirt or dust with a cloth.
3. Trim Landscaping and Clear Debris
The end of summer is a great time to clear out any long grasses or weeds that might have grown around HVAC equipment since spring maintenance was performed. During this seasonal maintenance, be sure to clear and clean any dust and debris that may have accumulated on outdoor units. As Fall progresses, it is important to routinely clear fallen leaves from around HVAC units.
4. Inspect and Clean Ductwork, Vents and Chimneys
A clean HVAC system is an efficient HVAC system. Seasonal preventive maintenance should always include a thorough inspection of ducts, vents, chimneys and flues for dust and debris, and cleaning as needed. This important chore will boost energy efficiencies and will also increase fire safety protocols.
5. Inspect Heating-Specific Parts
The EPA recommends inspecting the following heating-specific parts and processes:
- All gas/oil connections
- Gas pressure
- Burner combustion
- Heat exchanger
If the connections are not in working order, they could create a fire hazard and put the health and safety of your entire office in jeopardy. Also, it is imperative to make sure the burner is clean and that the heat exchanger is not cracked. Take care of these issues before it is time to turn the heat on.
6. Check for Leaks
If you have an old heating system, there is a high chance that there are leaks in your heating system’s ducts. When there are leaks in the ducts, hot air will leak through the holes, and as a result, there will be system loss. Due to air leakage, your heating system will have to work harder, and eventually, you will have higher heating bills and a less efficient system. While you are checking for leaks, go ahead and check properties for costly air leaks. Drafty windows and doors are the first culprit of low energy efficiency. Not only do they let cold air into your home, they let all of the hot air out. Check the caulking and window-stripping on your windows and doors and replace anything that is broken or cracked. You should also seal the attic with weather-stripping and clean the chimney.
7. Listen for Strange Noises
One more passive thing you can do is to keep an ear open for odd noises when your system is running. Often times, noises in your system are created by register blockages, debris in the vents, or loose bolts on the furnace or registers. If you hear any odd noises, try to locate the source.
8. Test the Accuracy of Your Thermostat
Before the heating season begins, make sure to test the accuracy of your thermostat. Doing so will ensure that the displayed temperature on your smart or programmable thermostat is accurate and will allow you to adjust the set temperature as needed. You can test the accuracy of your thermostat by taping a thermometer to a paper towel, and then taping that paper towel next to the thermostat. The two temperature readings should match up.
9. Cover Outdoor Unit
Covering the outdoor condenser unit is especially important if you live in an area with extreme weather. Covering your condenser protects your HVAC unit from natural elements like dirt and other debris from building up. A quality cover can even keep small animals from nesting inside. If you live in an area that frequently has snow in the winter, this cover will prevent snow and unwanted moisture from seeping into your outdoor HVAC unit. This means you are less likely to have rust and other issues with your outdoor unit.
What You Can Do Yourself
There are many tasks on your to-do list that you can actually do yourself. From clearing vegetation to changing your filter, seasonal maintenance is a must. Below are crucial steps that you should take to properly care for your heating system this season. This will not only keep your system in good shape, but it will help save you money in the long run.
DIY Outdoor System Care
- Clear vegetation and debris away from your exterior heat pump unit
- Shut down your air conditioner for the winter
- Inspect unit for damage, and protect it with a cover
- Turn off the outdoor switch to prevent your air conditioner from being turned on accidentally
DIY Indoor System Care
- Store combustible products away from your heating system.
- Inspect your air filter and replace it if needed
- Make sure your registers are clear of obstruction
- Change the water panel of your home’s humidifier
- Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector annually
What You Should Leave to the professionals
There are some tasks best left to the professionals. Heating systems are composed of sensitive equipment which requires maintenance to improve performance and efficiency. This Fall, make it a priority to schedule professional Aire-Tech HVAC maintenance. A trusted HVAC contractor will provide essential cleaning, care and inspection to ensure your heating system can handle the important job of keeping your home comfortable through the cold months.
- Calibrating the thermostat
- Adjusting electrical connection
- Lubricating moving parts
- Inspect and clean the condensate drain
- Checking and adjusting system controls
- Cleaning and adjusting the blower
- Checking all fuel line connections
- Inspecting the gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger
Choose a Trusted Service Company for an Inspection and Tune-Up
If you have discovered a problem with the home’s HVAC system, think about calling a trusted local service company before you decide against buying. They can complete a thorough inspection, determining the extent of existing issues and looking for any others. If the problem can be fixed with a simple tune-up, buying the house may still be worth it.
And there is always a chance the previous owner simply wasn’t aware of the problem. If there is something wrong with the HVAC system, it never hurts to ask if potential replacement costs will be factored into the cost of the home itself. In any case, the more info you have, the better decisions you can make.
You can always count on the Aire-Tech to keep your home cool. Perhaps you need repairs, new thermostat installation, or preventative maintenance—whatever the HVAC issue is, Aire-Tech is ready to help. If your system needs repair or inspection before summer, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.