HVAC Winter Maintenance Tips
This past week of weather instilled a feeling of "False Spring" into our minds, but alas the weather changes its mind day-to-day in Texas. Even though spring isn't too far off and warmer, more comfortable temperatures are on the horizon, we still can't ignore our HVAC winter maintenance. We've put together a list of HVAC winter maintenance tips to keep your gas furnace or heat pump running optimally throughout the rest of the cold month(s) ahead.
1. Change Your Filter
One of the most frequently asked questions we get is "How often should I change my filter?" This is a very valid question and one that the filter manufacturers have endlessly adulterated through the years. The short answer is: we recommend changing your filter every month! Yes, that means you have to physically purchase a filter (or grab one from the closet), slide out the old one, and put a new one in every 28-31 days.
"But I get those 720-day filters, why do I have to change it?" I know, the package says your filter is good for a century, which is true. Your filter likely won't disintegrate during your lifetime, but it'll sure enough clog up and turn into a black sheet of funk followed by a service call, new filter, and a handwritten check to your local HVAC serviceperson. The fact of the matter is that our heaters run a lot in Texas, and more run time leads to more exposure to your filter to dust, pet dander, hair, and whatever else your furnace sucks up over the course of the month.
Do yourself (and us) a favor, save yourself a service call, and change your filter monthly.
2. Clean Your Vents
There's no secret that stuff gets dirty over time. Even your air vents with constant air moving across them can get a little nasty if they're left unattended. During the winter months, it's a good idea to get a vacuum or duster and give those puppies a good cleaning. This will reduce the amount of allergens and dust that flow through your home while giving your HVAC unit a fighting chance to keep you comfortable.
Don't neglect your return air vent either (the thing that sucks air into your furnace). Return air vents have more air moving past them than your supply air vents and generally is your first line of defense against large debris which can collect and cause some major airflow issues over time. Take a vacuum to them and knock back any dust that may be lingering. Additionally, some ceiling-mounted return air vents can be easily removed and cleaned with a light soap and water solution or household cleaner. Just be sure to let it dry completely before reinstalling.
3. Clean Your Air Conditioner
This may sound crazy in the depth of a Texas winter, but the winter months are a great time to clean your air conditioner. Unless you own a heat pump that runs throughout the year (in which case you can skip this tip), then consider putting a little elbow grease into your air conditioner.
Air conditioners tend to be collecting points for all types of debris during the winter months. Remove debris from around your condenser, from inside if you have access (power off only!), and from the condenser coil. Raking debris from around your air conditioner is a great start. Follow that by using a water hose to clean the coil, and attempt to remove any debris that may have made itself somewhat permanent on the exterior of your unit.
4. Maintain Your Thermostat
Your thermostat is an often overlooked part of your HVAC system but is arguably one of the most important components of it. Thermostats can get dusty, dirty, and need their batteries changed at somewhat frequent intervals, and the wintertime is a great time to do all of those things.
Unless you own an old analog thermostat with no digital display, then you should be able to remove the face of your thermostat, replace the batteries, and used some canned air to clear any dust or debris that may have collected over the past few months. It's good practice to change the batteries in your thermostat when you change the batteries in your smoke alarms (every daylight savings change is a good rule of thumb).
If you notice that your thermostat has corrosion from the batteries, it might be time to go ahead and replace it. Corrosion typically makes its way into the thermostat's control board which can cause problems down the road. Additionally, your thermostat may not have batteries, which isn't anything to be concerned about. Just know that it gets its power from your furnace. Go ahead and clean the terminals and the backside of the thermostat with some canned air to be safe.
5. Insulate Your Home
Older homes tend to have older insulation and homeowners often overlook this as a major home efficiency loser. The winter months are a great time to evaluate the little things in your home such as insulation. If you can, access your attic, take a look around and make sure that you have adequate insulation up there. Over many years, insulation can settle which lessens its effectiveness in keeping your house comfortable.
If you're not sure how much insulation you need or can't get into your attic, then consider calling an insulator to take a look.
In all likelihood, if your home stays comfortable during the coldest winter days and the hottest summer months, then you're probably in good shape. Otherwise, you may want one of our service technicians to come by, take a look at your system, and evaluate your home in order to improve your indoor comfort.
6. Call for a Winter Checkup
There's obviously plenty you can do yourself in order to maintain your HVAC system during the winter months, but sometimes it helps to get a professional eye on exactly how your equipment is functioning. A qualified technician can give your system a full checkout and make sure that everything is working correctly and offer valuable advice on how you can save more money on your winter utility bills.
If you've already taken the above steps and you're looking for a professional evaluation of your HVAC equipment then call Stephenville Heat and Air for a winter maintenance check. Our qualified installers and technicians will ensure that your heat pump or furnace is in tip-top condition for the winter and into the chilly early spring months. Give us a call at 254-965-4644 to schedule a maintenance check or click the button below to get a quote on a new energy-efficient gas furnace or heat pump system.