cold season

Essential Heating System Maintenance Checklist

checklistAs cold winter weather sweeps across the country, heating systems are turning on in droves. Your heating system works hard to keep your home warm and comfortable when outdoor temperatures become chilly. However, there are some simple steps you can take to make your system’s job a little easier.

Steps to Keep Your Heating System Running

Basic maintenance tasks are crucial to ensuring your heating system in peak condition and your home cozy until temperatures begin to rise in the spring. This heating system maintenance checklist covers all the maintenance jobs you should do now and throughout the cold season to keep your furnace or heat pump in tip top condition.

Change Your Filters.

A fresh filter will ensure your system is receiving adequate airflow. Changing your filter regularly will help your system remove airborne particles that can clog up air ducts and your system’s mechanical components. A clean furnace filter also helps your system function more efficiently, lowering your energy consumption and your utility bills.

Clear the Area Around Your Heating System.

Proper airflow is essential for your system to properly function. When items are stored around your heating unit, air flow can be restricted, forcing your system to work harder to heat your home.

Also, storing flammable substances like cleaners, paint, or gasoline near your heating system is a fire hazard. Be sure to leave a clear, 6-foot perimeter around your furnace or air handler.

If you have a heat pump system, regularly remove all yard debris surrounding your outdoor unit to ensure free air flow.

Clear Air Registers and Vents

Be sure that all registers and vents are unobstructed by furniture, area rugs, or other items. If anything is blocking them, move them to allow air to properly move through your home’s living space. Not only will this keep all areas of your home warm, it also allows your heating system to run more efficiently.

Program Your Thermostat

Once cold weather sets in, you need to reprogram your programmable thermostat. Adjusting the settings for winter temperature schedules will save you money on your heating bill, keep you more comfortable, and keep your system running efficiently.

Schedule Maintenance with a HVAC Professional

The best thing you can do to ensure your heating system continues running efficiently is to schedule maintenance with a local HVAC professional technician. An HVAC technician can cover technical checks most homeowners are not capable of tackling themselves.

A professional technician will inspect the entire system, clean and lubricate critical components. These preventive procedures will prevent inconvenient and uncomfortable system breakdowns. If you want to make sure your furnace or heat pump to runs smoothly and consumes less energy all winter long, a check-up performed by a qualified professional is a necessity.

Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Now is a good time to make sure your home’s carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. During the cold season, fuel-burning heating systems create a carbon monoxide risk. Carbon monoxide is dangerous and a working carbon monoxide detector could save your life.

When an HVAC technician performs maintenance on your heating system, he or she will make sure all your system’s components are in good working order. This should prevent any carbon monoxide from being released into the home. However, carbon monoxide detectors should still be in place as a safety precaution.

If your home is not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, install them immediately. There should be at least one on each floor of your home. Winter is a good time to check power sources on all carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries if necessary and test hard-wired connections. Test each unit individually using the test function to make sure they are working properly.

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Using Your HVAC Unit to Fight Colds and Flu

flu seasonCold and flu season begins as the days begin to shorten and the temperatures begin to drop. While cold and flu activity peak in the coldest months between December and March, seasonal flu activity starts as early as mid October.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu, it isn’t a sure fire way to prevent getting sick this flu season. Luckily, you have another ally during cold and flu season: your central air system.

By making just a few adjustments, you can protect yourself from viruses and other germs, and create an environment that is warmer, more comfortable, and less likely to make you sick.

Change Your Air Filter

Every homeowner knows how air filters help keep dust and other particles out of the air. Air filters also work to protect the home’s HVAC unit and keep it running smoothly and efficiently.  

Air filters protect both your HVAC equipment and your indoor air from dust, dirt, pollen, pet hair and dander, and even bits of decomposed insect. Also, trapped inside the filtration medium are cold and flu contaminants that could pose a threat to your family’s health.

Be sure to change your air filter regularly. Do some research to determine the best filter for your system. If you don’t already use one, consider switching to a  HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) rated filter. A HEPA filter traps microscopic particles, including the germs that cause the flu and common cold.

Check Your Air Ducts

Dirty air ducts can add to poor indoor air quality. Dust and debris in your air ducts will blow through your vents and cause potential health problems. Fall is a good time to schedule a maintenance check with a trained technician. He or she can check to see if your ducts need cleaning.

Consider Ultraviolet Lights

Ultraviolet or UV light is a natural component of sunlight. UV light can eliminate bacteria, virus, odors and allergens by disrupting their DNA, rendering them harmless. By having a UV light incorporated into your HVAC system, you can reduce the amount of cold and flu germs that get recirculated into your home.

Other Ways Your HVAC System Can Help

A clean air filter can’t completely protect you from the flu. When everyone around you at work, school, and even the grocery store, starts to cough, sneeze, and sniffle, you’ll be unable to completely escape exposure.

If you do find yourself feeling under the weather, there are several ways you heating and cooling system can help you feel better faster.

Zone Heating

One of the symptoms of the flu is a feeling of chills. While everyone else in the home feels comfortable, a person suffering from the flu will feel like they are freezing.

If your home has zoned heating, adjusting localized temperature for the sick person is easy.

However, if you do not have the convenience of zoned heating, you can still create a special warm environment for the sick person. By adjusting the registers in a room, you can adjust how much heat enters the room. Adjusting the fins of each register in a room gives you a little more control over the intensity of heat in each room.

Whole House Humidifier

Cold and flu symptoms include coughing and congestion. These symptoms can feel much worse when indoor humidity levels are low. One solution is a whole house humidifier. A whole house humidifier uses a built-in fan to disperse moisture through your homes HVAC system.

Prevent HVAC System Failures

Staying healthy during cold and flu season is easier when your HVAC system is in good running order. Staying warm and comfortable will help keep your body healthy. You don’t want your HVAC system to unexpectedly stop working when the outdoor temperatures are bitter cold.

Before cold and flu season, it is a smart idea to have your local HVAC technician perform a winter safety check. This can help prevent unexpected problems from coming up when they are least convenient. No one wants to lose the ability to heat their home when they are uncomfortable sick.

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