Our Top 5 Fall and Winter HVAC Maintenance Tips (plus timely reminders on air quality and fire safety!)
Fall will be here before you know it. Is your home’s heating and cooling system ready? There are a few basic steps you should take every year to ensure that you’re prepared for the upcoming change of season. This year, these steps are especially important given that our homes are occupied more frequently due to working and schooling from home. To make sure your family can sleep, relax, work, and learn in comfort, remember to:
- Replace air filters;
- Clean and clear vents;
- Clean and clear your outdoor unit;
- Reprogram your thermostat; and
- Schedule a tune-up.
Good news! Not only will these steps improve your comfort, they’re all designed to make your system run more efficiently and save you money — all good things as the holiday season approaches.
1. Replace air filters
If certain areas of your home are uncomfortable no matter what temperature you set the thermostat to, then your air conditioner may be aging or improperly sized. Make sure your unit is doing the job it’s supposed to do! Why settle for rooms that are too warm or too cold?
Dirty air filters can create allergy issues for inhabitants, reduce efficiency of your HVAC system, and impede airflow in the home. Filters should be changed every 1-3 months depending on the system, how many people live in your home, if you have pets, or if you smoke. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations on replacement frequency and the type of filter to use. Filters should have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) between 7 and 13. MERV ratings span from 1-16, with the lowest ratings not adequately energy efficient and the highest ratings suitable for hospitals and other commercial applications. The middle ranges are recommended for residential use. Once you find an effective filter, make sure to stock up on a few months’ worth so you don’t run out.
2. Clean and clear vents
Buildup of dust and dirt on your HVAC unit has a huge impact on efficiency. Dirty vents also affect the longevity of your equipment. Walk around your house and wipe clean the vents and registers. This prevents dirt from getting caught up in the system and circulating throughout the house. While you’re at it, make sure that vents are clear of obstacles like couches and rugs. Vents should also be opened. It’s a common misconception that closing vents will save energy. In fact, closing vents can cause an assortment of issues, such as duct leaks, frozen evaporator coils, and airflow problems.
3. Clean and clear the outdoor unit
Make sure the outside AC unit or heat pump is free from debris and other yard materials. Falling leaves may get stuck inside, along with pollen, dirt, and sticks. Remove large objects and any debris that has accumulated. Then wipe down the exterior walls of the unit to remove any dirt and grime. Finally, clear a two-foot area around the unit to help it work effectively. Keeping your unit in tip-top shape will save your money in repair costs and keep your HVAC system running efficiently and effectively.
4. Reprogram the thermostat
Seamlessly transition into cooler weather by reprograming your thermostat. You’ll be more comfortable and save money, too. Set your thermostat to lower temperatures during times you won’t be home and during the night, and higher during the day when you’ll be home. If you use a programmable thermostat, you can set it up once and then forget about it.
5. Schedule a tune-up
If you haven’t gotten a tune-up yet this year, don’t wait any longer. An HVAC professional should inspect your system twice a year to keep your energy bills low and your system working efficiently. Plus, a well-maintained system will last longer and require fewer repairs during its lifetime.
Tips on improving indoor air quality
Unfortunately, most of us in Oregon and Washington have been affected by this season’s horrible wildfires. How can you ensure that your indoor air is clean and safe to breathe? Every house is different so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. A good filter will remove smoke and a Reme Halo air purifier is a great way to clean the air in your home. Some homes have fresh air intakes that pump outside air inside. In these cases, homeowners may want to disable the mechanical damper so it stays closed when the fan turns on. This process isn’t always intuitive so you may want to contact an HVAC professional to help you out. No matter how your home is set up, replacing air filters is important! If your area has been hit hard by ash, then you’ll want to service your air conditioner or heat pump to ensure that the outdoor coil is clean.
Remember to practice fire safety indoors, too
Heating appliances are the second most common cause of hour fires. Ensure your family’s well-being by following some basic fire tips:
- Don’t leave space heaters unattended;
- Keep three feet between heating sources and anything that could burn, such as bedding, gasoline, antifreeze, batteries, and propane tanks; and
- Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order by testing them monthly (and make sure they’re installed on each level and outside each room.
Comfort Heating & Cooling’s furnace tune-up includes filter checks, an electrical inspection, and a checkup that motors, safety switches, and belts are functioning properly. A detailed 20-point tune-up will give you peace of mind that your system will run efficiently while providing your home with comfort throughout the season. Call Comfort Heating & Cooling today at 503-679-9276 to ask about our $129.95 tune-up special!
As the Portland’s leader in AC repair, service and installation, Comfort Heating and Cooling is proud to offer reliable, efficient and affordable solutions that will keep your family comfortable when temperatures soar. Call 503-679-9276 to schedule an emergency appointment! Whether you need regular AC maintenance to keep your system running smooth, a repair as the thermostat rises or the installation of a new air conditioning system, our certified experts are committed to making a fair assessment your needs and offering affordable energy efficient AC recommendations.