Staying at home may not be what you’re looking forward to during the chilly winter. Perhaps, you could do with a holiday in Hawaii. But sometimes, you have no choice but to crank up the heating for a few months. However, heating costs can add up, and home comfort can deteriorate fast, which is why it is essential to ensure your heating system is in good working order.

Below are practical heating maintenance tips you can use before, during, and after the cold season to ensure maximum comfort and cost savings.

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What to do Before Winter

Pre-winter check ups form the most important part of heating and furnace maintenance. You will likely need to clear debris and dust from the air ducts and vents. You also want to ensure all components are in top working order, so you dive into winter confident that your heating system will deliver to your expectations. Keep in mind this pre-winter heating maintenance checklist:

» Run a Quick Visual Inspection

Always run a visual inspection of your heating system before digging into the components. If your furnace is the gas-fired version, ensure the venting pipes are securely angled and fastened. Do not forget other tubes, such as the drainage tubes. Pre-winter is a perfect time to check your gas line for leaks. Should you detect an aroma of rotten eggs around the pipes, no doubt you have a gas leak in your home. Switch off the gas supply and call for professional intervention.

» Inspect Your Thermostat

A slight tug on thermostat wires should indicate whether the thermostat wires are correctly fitted. Next, switch your thermostat from cooling to heating by setting the gadget some degrees higher than the prevailing room temperature. You should hear the furnace kick on within a few seconds. If it fails, check that the power is on and connections are secure. If your furnace is still unresponsive, the blower, furnace fan, or pilot light could be the culprit. These parts are best diagnosed and fixed by qualified HVAC contractors (like ourselves, Conejo Valley Home Services)

» Replace the Filter

Filter replacement keeps your heating system winter-ready. It is an easy and inexpensive solution that helps reduce energy consumption and maximize system longevity. But how does a neglected filter affect your furnace? You see, a furnace filter works by trapping any contaminants in the air flowing through it. With time, the filter accumulates dirt and dust, meaning 1) it will not clean the air as effectively as it should, compromising your home’s indoor air quality, and 2) your furnace will have to work beyond its typical capacity. You end up paying huge heating bills and possibly financing a costly repair.

» Check the Furnace Flue

Furnace flue (furnace chimney) channels exhaust gas and fumes away from your furnace to the outside of your house. Gas sediment and rust scale mess the furnace flue the most and can build up to cause blockage. Other obstructions culprits include leaves and branches. The greatest danger of furnace chimney blockage is carbon monoxide(CO) poisoning. A plugged flue prevents combustion pollutants (including CO) from escaping into the outside air. Instead, they backdraft into the house. Minor cleanup of the chimney goes a long way to prevent human health hazards.

» Declutter the Vents and Around the Furnace

Pre-winter is the best time to clean up the area around your furnace. Move clutter away and follow up with a vacuum. Make sure to keep anything flammable such as cardboard boxes and papers, away from your furnace to prevent fire hazards. Pre-winter heating maintenance cannot be complete without a thorough check on the air vents. Air vent blockage hurts your furnace. It forces the blower motor to work harder against the accumulating pressure, increasing the possibilities of the heat exchanger overheating and cracking. Prevent costly repairs by removing anything that can obstruct airflow in the vents. Do not forget to vacuum off dust.

» Get a Professional HVAC Inspection

Some winter furnace maintenance tasks are best done by a trained professional. Otherwise, attempting these tasks yourself could lead to system damage and set your family up for health risks. A competent HVAC contractor will check the condition of critical components of your HVAC system, including the burners, heat exchangers, and air ducts. The pros know how to clean the heat exchanger and look for cracks that could leak carbon monoxide into your home. They will also check the tension belt for misalignments and wear and perform the necessary remedies. Other issues an HVAC pro can address include blacked condensate drain, loose wiring, blower motor lubrication, and loose ductwork. Simply put, comprehensive diagnostic checks by a professional will ensure your heating system operates efficiently, safely, and to the manufacturer’s and industry’s standards. That can save you money and multiple frustrations.  

What to do During Winter

The last thing you expect is a furnace failure in the wee hours of a winter night. But any technology is bound to disappoint us at the most inconvenient times, especially when we neglect or forget some of our duties. Below are heating system maintenance steps that will get you through the cold season comfortably.

» Check the Furnace Filter More Often

A good furnace filter captures most of the air pollutants that make their way into your home and increases the efficiency of your furnace. However, a pre-winter filter replacement is not enough to maximize airflow throughout winter. It is, therefore, a good idea to check your furnace filter at least monthly during winter. Replace any clogged filters.

» Check Your Thermostat’s Calibration

Like your HVAC system’s components, thermostats need periodic maintenance to deliver their best performance. One of the most important tasks is ensuring the gadget is measuring correctly. An inaccurately calibrated thermostat will not as effectively control the temperature. The procedure is as simple as comparing the thermostat’s reading with that of an accurate thermometer. A variance of +/-5 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable, but anything beyond that calls for an adjustment.

» Reverse the Ceiling Fan

Energy Star advises homeowners to operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction during winter. The direction reversal creates an updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling downwards. You should adjust your thermostat accordingly. These two combined steps should provide extra energy and cost savings.

» Inspects Ducts

Your ducts are the conduits through which the HVAC distributes heat to different spaces in your home. But they also serve as a conduit for dirt, dust, and pet dander, which can build up and hamper your heating system’s efficiency. That makes duct inspection a critical part of winter heating maintenance. Check for leaks first. A quick visual inspection should reveal apparent tears. Else, you can pass a piece of toilet paper over your ductwork and see if it moves erratically. Alternatively, use your hand to feel for breezes around the duct joints. A high-quality sealant or metal tape should firmly patch any duct leaks. Make sure there is at least 18 inches of space around your heat vents and registers so that air can circulate freely throughout your home.

What to do After Winter

The good news is that winter is gone, and spring has sprung into action. It is time to pack away winter jackets and embrace the warmer weather. Most importantly, you will not need your furnace running throughout. However, your AC shares some parts with your furnace, including the ductwork and thermostat. Here are ways to ensure your cooling unit performs at its best during spring and summer.

» Change Thermostat Battery

The principal function of a thermostat battery is to save any programmed info so that your HVAC system works uninterrupted during brief power outages. A weak battery can hamper your thermostat’s ability to control temperatures consistently. The thermostat cannot work with dead batteries, meaning your heating and cooling units stop working as well. So, replacing the batteries is your best bet to ensure your thermostat works as it should during summer. You only need to release the device from its wall plate, pull off the old batteries, and insert new ones using the right +/- directional indications.

» Check Your Ducts

Air conditioners use ducts to distribute cool air throughout your home. Inspect your ducts for any debris or dirt accumulated during winter. Have dirty ducts professionally cleaned to ensure adequate airflow for improved AC efficiency and indoor air quality. Use the tips mentioned earlier to inspect and seal duct leaks.

» Change Furnace Filter

Furnace filters require regular replacements, except the frequency is higher during winter. Factors that influence the filter replacement frequency include filter thickness, type, size, and MERV rating. Family members with allergies, indoor pests, and home renovations are among the factors that necessitate more frequent furnace filter changes. All in all, replacing the air filter during spring means you can enjoy the ideal weather with little to no worries over clogged filters, poor indoor air quality, excessive energy costs, and heating and cooling system breakdown.

Schedule Your Winter Heating and Furnace Maintenance Today with Conejo Valley Home Services

Conejo Valley Home Services takes the guesswork out of winter heating system maintenance. We are a fully licensed and insured HVAC company with a reliable team of professionals highly experienced in maintaining all types and brands of heating systems, including heat pumps, furnaces, and boilers. We provide winter heating maintenance services to residential and commercial settings in Conejo Valley and nearby communities. We don’t use subcontractors – our technicians take care of everything with complete attention to detail and per industry standards. Whether you need annual or more regular heating tune-ups, you are guaranteed the best deal at competitive and transparent prices. Call us at 805-499-0488 for immediate help with winter heating system maintenance.