Winter is coming, and for some perhaps it’s already here. With the first chills of winter upon them, many residents in colder parts of the world are scrambling to make sure their homes are in top shape to endure the upcoming subzero temperatures.
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t think much about your heating system until you need it. As a result, unless you perform routine maintenance, you may never know that you have a problem until you need it most!
We reached out to the HVAC contractors at Ace of Spades Comfort Inc. to get some insight on preparing your home for winter. Based in Whitby, Ontario, these guys are no stranger to cold weather and are here to share their tips to winter prepping your home.
Check Your Thermostat.
Just like any other electronic device in your home, thermostats need to be checked regularly to ensure they still are functioning properly. Since the thermostat tells your heating system when to run, if there’s an issue, even if your HVAC system is in top shape, you could face problems with your heat.
Start by testing the system. When you turn on your heat, it should respond immediately and you should start to feel hot air come through your vents. If you notice any odd sounds, or the heat doesn’t automatically turn on, check to make sure the batteries in the thermostat are new.
Even if your thermostat appears to be working as expected, you may still consider upgrading to a smart thermostat like the Nest or the Ecobee3 for their energy saving benefits. Smart thermostats not only let you customize your home’s temperature at various times throughout the day, but over time it will actually learn your habits to minimize your daily energy use.
Change Your Filter and Clean Your Ducts
At Ace of Spades, they cite an overheating furnace as one of the most common heating emergency homeowners face. If your heater seems to be shutting itself off before it’s reached the set temperature, you may have an overheating problem. A furnace typically overheats due to improper airflow or short-cycling due to improper installation.
In most cases, the cause of the overheating can be traced back to a dirty air filter or clogged air ducts. When your air ducts or air filters become clogged, your heating system has to work much harder to push air, resulting in an overworked motor and eventually an overheating furnace.
Many experts recommend that traditional air filters should be changed every 4 to 6 weeks while new high efficient filters, such as the Filtrate by 3M, can be changed once every three months. But don’t forget about your ducts! According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, most residents should consider cleaning their air ducts every three to five years.
Get A Professional Inspection.
Before it gets too cold, hiring a professional to perform an inspection on your heating system could save you time and money by identifying and repairing any issues. A proper inspection can also alert you to possible ways to save energy you may not of previously considered.
“Not to mention the tools required to do a proper maintenance such as a combustion analyzer, monometer, etc. which the average home owner doesn't own, an HVAC contractor such as Ace of Spades would be able to detect any potential issues with a unit prior to them becoming major issues which could also be harmful to the homeowner due to inexperience and lack of training,” says Omer at Ace of Spades.
When hiring a professional for an inspection, you’ll want to make sure they hit some major points like cleaning the internal components to increase airflow and overall efficiency, filter check, electrical component inspection, and carbon monoxide and heat exchanger checks to ensure safety. As an added bonus, some HVAC contractors like Ace of Spades will offer a full report of your inspection to show to insurance companies if you’re trying to obtain or change home insurance policies in older homes.
Schedule Routine Maintenance.
Just like with a vehicle, your home’s heating system needs regular maintenance to ensure it works properly all year long. When you have a licensed HVAC professional perform routine maintenance, not only will you have the peace of mind that the services are being performed up to code, but any potential problems can be spotted before they become an expensive problem.
Professional HVAC companies like Ace of Spades typically offer customers an option to sign up for routine maintenance plans, typically monthly, to ensure they never have to worry about forgetting to call for service.
The key to surviving the cold winter is proper HVAC system maintenance. With a little help from a professional HVAC technician, getting your home’s heating system winter ready will be a breeze!
Thanks to Omer from Ace of Spades Comfort Inc. for sharing his tips on proper heating system winter prep. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, visit https://aoscomfort.com/ for more information on their maintenance plans and other HVAC services!