Snow storms are simply a part of the reality of living in the Midwest. While they may be beautiful to look at, they can also wreak havoc on your HVAC system. Here are five tips to preparing your heating system for the next major storm of the winter.
1. Change Your Air Filter
Your filter is one of the primary devices protecting your furnace from airborne contaminants. A clogged filter causes less air to flow through your system, requiring longer heating cycles. These longer cycles cause excessive wear and strain on your equipment, leading to premature component failure during extreme weather caused by snow storms.
Most standard filters need a replacement about every 90 days, on average. However, winters in this part of Illinois come with lower humidity, so you may need to change your filter more often.
Plan to check it monthly to keep track of how dirty it’s getting. Try gently vacuuming the intake side of the filter to help extend its life and keep air flowing freely. Be sure to keep some extra filters on hand so that you can replace them as soon as you notice the need without having to first visit a store.
2. Ensure Your System Is Current on Maintenance
Aside from keeping your filters clean, getting routine professional maintenance is the next most important way to care for your furnace. As your system runs, it collects small contaminants on the circulating fan and heat exchanger. It also vibrates, causing mounting bolts and electrical connections to loosen, all of which can lead to additional strain on your system.
During routine maintenance, a technician will clean the areas that will cause airflow restrictions. They will also check your connections and mounting hardware to ensure everything is tight and reduce unnecessary movement.
Finally, they’ll test the system’s components to ensure each is working optimally. Wearing parts add excessive strain during extreme weather, causing the system to fail when you need it most.
3. Check Your Thermostat
As you already know, your thermostat is the brain of your HVAC system. However, you may not know that it has a finite service life, about 10 to 15 years on average. As they age, thermostats may not register the temperature correctly, leading to longer heating cycles and more strain on the system.
Check to make sure your thermostat is registering the temperature accurately, and either have it calibrated or replaced if it’s not. Furthermore, check your programs to make sure they are set to lower the temperature by up to 10 degrees while everyone’s away from the house. This helps reduce not only your utility costs, but also the wear on your system when no one’s home.
4. Pay Attention to Small Problems
Small problems may not be very noticeable at first, but they add strain to your system regardless. A system already taxed by small issues cannot keep up with the excessive strain brought on by winter snow storms.
Trace down the problem quickly if you notice your system is making unusual sounds, has unusually long or short heating cycles or doesn’t push out sufficient warm air. These subtle signs tell you there’s trouble brewing in your heating system. If left unresolved, they may cause your equipment to fail during the cold temperatures that accompany most snow storms.
5. Open and Clear Your Vents and Doors
To effectively heat your home, your system must be able to push heated air throughout your rooms. The process of pushing the warm air out and drawing the cool air in through return vents helps evenly heat your home.
Blocked or closed vents inhibit this process from working effectively. More air is pushed out in certain areas while less is distributed in others. Not only does this cause the heat to miss those blocked areas, but it also inhibits the circulatory effect your system needs.
Likewise, your equipment needs open doors to allow cool air to flow from each room and return through your heating system. Keep as many doors open throughout your home as possible. Then, open your vents, and make sure each has at least a 2-inch clearance above and around it.
Join the scores of people around Peoria, Bloomington, Normal and Champaign who trust Bratcher Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. for their HVAC needs. Our technicians provide award-winning heating and cooling installation, maintenance and repair along with indoor air quality solutions, and they’ve been doing it for over 30 years. Call us today to schedule your furnace maintenance or repair.