There are three critical things every home or business needs: proper lighting, good security, and the right cooling and heating system to keep everyone comfortable. Your HVAC system is the one that has the most maintenance needs and it’s important to winterize it before the cold weather hits.
They say good things come in threes. There are the Three Stooges, a three-ring circus, and from strikeouts to horseracing’s Triple Crown, the world of sports practically survives on threes. To continue the pattern, here are three tips for winterizing your HVAC system, which is just as good.
The importance of winterizing your HVAC system
Save on energy bills
According to the Department of Energy, taking good care of your HVAC system can reduce energy usage by up to 25 percent. Businesses may spend more than 40 percent of their utility bill for AC and heat.
Prevents rust and other damage
You may need to safeguard your system against snow, ice and other damaging effects of winter.
Keep critters out
When the weather gets colder, rodents and other wildlife look for someplace warm to settle in and nest. You don’t want that place to be your HVAC unit.
What you need to do to winterize your HVAC system
It’s the time of the year that many of us dread: switching your HVAC system from air conditioning to heat. This typically symbolizes the end of summer fun and the beginning of long, cold nights. If you know how to do it, this task doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. The process may be different depending on the type of HVAC system you have. It may help to remember the 3 Cs:
Clean your HVAC unit
When you have an outside unit for your central air HVAC system, it’s easy for it to get dirty during the spring and summer seasons. Clear any dirt, debris, twigs, etc. from around the unit. Cut back any weeds or vines that have grown around it. You may also want to spray it with your hose to remove any dust or soil. Just be careful that you don’t damage the fans or any other parts, as then it will not operate as effectively. Then, allow it to dry.
Inside your home, the grills and ducts are just as vital. After all, they are a key component to the entire air delivery system. To get ready for winter, you should remove the grill and wipe around the edges in the opening. The vents should also be cleaned before you put them back. This is also a great way to make the air in your home cleaner with fewer allergens.
Cover the unit
A lot can happen to your HVAC unit during the winter. Heavy winds, snow, freezing rain, and cold temperatures can all serve to wreak havoc on your system. To avoid this, it could be wise to purchase a cover for it. These can be found at most home improvement or hardware stores. If it’s not possible for you to buy one, you can also cover your HVAC unit with a tarp and weigh it down with stones. Taking these steps will help prevent moisture and dirt from entering and possibly damaging your HVAC system.
Putting a piece of plywood, the same size of your unit, on top can serve the same function. It can prevent the accumulation of more dirt and dust. Setting something heavy on top of the plywood, like a brick or stones, will keep it from blowing away.
If your unit has a dual function and acts as a cooling and heating unit, you will need to find a cover that doesn’t restrict airflow.
Change your HVAC filters.
If dust, debris, and allergens get into your HVAC unit, it can clog the system and decrease its efficiency. It diminishes airflow and forces your system to work harder to keep you warm or cool. Additionally, you are setting yourself up for costly repairs down the line as all that dirt finds its way into the machinery and causes problems. Changing your filters is one of the least expensive ways to keep your system running smoothly but it is the one habit that many of us neglect. This important job should be done about every three or four months. You can remind yourself by thinking a change of seasons, change the filters. Those who live in areas with lots of high winds or near construction sites may want to change the HVAC filters more often. Maintaining your unit will also help to ensure that, when springtime and summer roll around again, your AC will be working properly.
Other tips on maintaining your HVAC system
For both homes and businesses, a well-functioning HVAC system is crucial for the contentment of your family, customers, and employees. Breathing excellent air that is suitable for the temperature conditions is essential for everyone’s health and safety. Some of the ways you can make your system operate at peak performance include:
- Using a programmable thermostat, adjusted based on home or building occupancy and usage
- Installing ceiling fans to push down warm air and make everyone feel more comfortable. These should be set to the clockwise setting.
- Letting in some sunshine to help rooms stay warmer without cranking up the heat
- Keeping the heat in by closing shades and blinds at night
- Investing in a few space heaters to warm large spaces in key areas
- Paying attention to what’s around your unit. For instance, if your unit is located below gutters, you could be exposing it to excess water, which can create electrical issues
- Making sure your home or business is appropriately insulated. If not, you are literally throwing energy money out the window.
Of course, this leads to a fourth C and that is to call a professional HVAC technician. It’s vital to have your system inspected and tuned up as part of regular preventative maintenance. That way, if there are any repairs that need to be done, they can be completed before the weather turns really cold. Discovering that there is something wrong with your HVAC system after it breaks down can result in additional expenses and a very uncomfortable winter season for you and your family.