Home Repair & Maintenance Ideas and Tips

9 Tips to Get Your HVAC System Ready for Colder Weather

Check out these 9 tips for getting your HVAC system ready for colder weather. 

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The leaves are changing, kids are back in school and pumpkin spice is everywhere. Before those spooky Halloween decorations start to go up, you need to get your HVAC ready for winter weather. 

Already? Yes — it’s best to service your furnace early in the autumn, or even at the end of summer, so you can make sure your HVAC can function properly all winter long. It can be hard to schedule furnace service and repairs as the autumn season progresses, and crisp mornings give way to freezing ones — and the last thing you need is a central heating failure in the middle of a cold winter’s night. Follow these tips to help make sure it doesn’t happen.

1. Change the Filters

If you’re not changing your HVAC filters regularly, you’re putting an unnecessary amount of stress on the whole system. That’s because these filters eventually get clogged with lint and debris, especially if you have pets, and as they get clogged up, your furnace has to work harder to pull air through them. Eventually, an unchanged filter alone can be enough to make your furnace break down. Change your HVAC filters every six months at minimum, or as often as once every one to three months if you have pets.

2. Test the Thermostat

Don’t wait until it gets cold to find out your furnace won’t kick on. Well before the weather changes, test it by switching over from cooling to heating and set the thermostat a couple of degrees higher than the temperature in the room. You should hear the heat kick on. If it doesn’t, that’s a sign you may need to get your furnace repaired before it gets cold.

3. Cover the A/C Condenser Unit

Once you’re far enough along in the autumn season to turn off your A/C, cover the outdoor condenser unit. You can use a large square of plywood or a trash can lid held down with bungee cords. This will protect it from falling debris and ice.

4. Have Your Chimneys Serviced

Creosote and other flammable materials can build up in chimneys, so you need to have yours professionally cleaned each year. Even if you don’t burn wood or coal, you should still have the chimney for your gas or oil furnace inspected regularly for signs of corrosion, animal activity or carbon build-up.

5. Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Your carbon monoxide detectors are your last line of defense against this silent killer. Test them every fall and make sure they’re placed properly, at least five feet off the floor.

6. Test the Igniter Switch

Whether your system has a newer, electronic igniter or a pilot light, make sure you test the igniter switch yearly. Follow the instructions in your unit’s owner’s manual. 

7. Service the Blower Motor

You should also check your owner’s manual to find out if your blower motor needs to be cleaned and lubricated regularly. If so, there should be instructions on how to open the cover and clean and lubricate the bearings. Usually, you’ll need to remove the cover, clean the bearing caps, and then remove the caps and add lubricant to the bearings.

8. Service the Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger in your furnace needs to be cleaned each year as part of your heating tune up. A service professional will first disable the furnace, then carefully dust and vacuum the heat exchanger. The technician will also look for cracks and other signs that your furnace could be leaking carbon monoxide into your home. As part of your American Home Shield® home warranty coverage, you can schedule a furnace tune-up with a local service professional. 

9. Change the Oil Filter and Fill up the Tank on Oil Furnaces

If you have an oil-burning furnace, you’ll need to replace the oil filter and burner nozzle and get the tank filled up. Oil burning furnaces also need regular service and cleaning, much more so than gas-burning furnaces, because the oil burns less efficiently and leaves more residue in the heat exchanger.

You rely on your furnace to keep your home warm and your family comfortable all winter long. In order to function as it should, it needs regular tune-ups. Routine furnace maintenance can help you avoid unexpected — and inconvenient — breakdowns. Get a discount on your yearly furnace tune-up when you schedule HVAC service through American Home Shield, and see our Home Matters blog for more tips on how to keep your system running smoothly all year long.

If you’re a current AHS member, schedule your heating tune-up today.

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Learn more.

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