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HVAC Winter Tips: How to Prepare Your Home

Updated: May 3, 2023

As temperatures drop outside, homeowners rely on their HVAC system more than ever to keep their homes warm and comfortable. These top tips help prepare your HVAC system for efficient and reliable use all winter. But remember, there is no substitute for professional servicing of this vital equipment. Let one of Grille Mechanical Contractors’ HVAC experts give you peace of mind with a preventative maintenance service during the season change. Head into the colder months assured your heating and cooling system is properly prepared to keep you warm all winter.

1. Change the Filter

Your air conditioner has likely been running all summer. Now that it’s time to transition to winter, the filter may well need to be changed. Dirt that gets sucked into the HVAC system is one of the primary causes of an HVAC system breakdown. Dirty filters also greatly decrease the efficiency of the unit. Ideally, you should check your filter every month, and wait no longer than three months to replace it. Keep backup air filters on hand so you always have one when you need it. Replacing the air filter is inexpensive, easy to do, and will go a long way toward helping your unit function through the winter.

2. Winterize Outdoor HVAC Equipment

1. Clear out leaves, twigs, and grass clippings from your outdoor air conditioning unit. Use a hose to rinse the outdoor air conditioner to remove droppings, dirt, bugs, and dust. Allow the HVAC unit to dry completely. Locate the electrical circuit – it usually has a plastic or metal lid. Remove the lid and flip the switch to turn off the power supply. This prevents the unit from turning on during a warm winter day, which keeps water out of the unit that could freeze overnight when temperatures drop and damage your HVAC unit. Cover the HVAC unit with a waterproof air conditioner cover or DIY a cover with a tarp, bungee cords, vinyl tie-downs, or bricks to secure the cover and protect the unit. Throughout winter, remove snow, ice, and debris from the top of the HVAC unit. Adjust the cover as needed to keep it in place. Do what you can to keep the unit clear of dead leaves, small branches, and any creatures that may be hibernating underneath.

3. Conduct a Visual Inspection Around the Furnace

Wherever your furnace is located, it’s a good idea to conduct a visual inspection before and periodically throughout the heating season. There should be a 3-foot minimum clearance around the entire unit, so remove anything around it or draped over it. Furnaces need to breathe. Items gathered around the furnace can reduce airflow and cause it to break down and not operate properly.

4. Turn Your Furnace On At Least Three Times While It’s Still Mild Outside

You don’t want to turn your furnace on the first cold day and find out it’s not working. Furnaces can have hidden things happening inside like squirrels and critters getting stuck in the flue and ventilation system. The off-season provides an opportunity for plenty of problems to develop in your heating system. Finding out if the furnace works while it’s still mild out allows you time to take care of those issues and ensure your furnace is functioning properly by the time you really need it.

5. Re-Program the Thermostat

If your home has a programmable thermostat, you want to make sure your settings accommodate when it’s time to switch between heating and cooling modes. Household temperature preferences will differ, and schedules may change seasonally, requiring some periods of adjustment. Choose comfortable, yet energy-efficient temperature setpoints during hours when your home is occupied. 68 degrees is recommended to maximize energy efficiency while keeping you comfortable. During periods when your home is unoccupied, a temperature setback of 10 to 15 degrees can help you save energy and avoid wasting heat. For fan settings, choose AUTO to allow the blower to run only when the heating system cycles.

6. Schedule a Professional Inspection

There are many benefits to having a professional perform preventative maintenance service on your HVAC system, but there is no better time than when transitioning from daily A/C use to daily heating use. A professional will know what to look for and can help catch small, easy-to-fix things up front before they turn into major problems. Additionally, a furnace can be particularly dangerous, as it emits carbon monoxide and uses natural gas to produce heat. It also has a flame inside. A professional HVAC technician can ensure the flame is burning safely and efficiently, and will also clean your entire system, improving indoor air quality and extending the lifespan of your system.

Don’t be caught in the cold this winter. Following our HVAC winter tips to prepare your system in advance of cold temperatures can ensure it runs reliably, efficiently, and effectively all winter long. To schedule a maintenance check with a professional technician, look no further than Grille Mechanical Contractors. Our HVAC techs will perform a thorough review of your system and help you welcome winter weather prepared.

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