We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but summer is over. While we may have a few warm days left in the Fredericksburg area, it’s also time to start thinking about the fall and winter seasons. That includes switching over from using your air conditioning to your heating system.
There are a few important tasks to complete in order to shut down your AC for another year and get your furnace ready to use when the temperature drops. Here is a quick checklist for your fall HVAC maintenance.
Replace furnace air filter
Odds are the air filter from last year is now covered in dirt, dust, pet hair, or other debris. If you let the furnace run with the old filter, the airflow will be restricted, which hurts both performance and efficiency. It’s a good idea to replace your furnace air filter every 30 days, or as instructed on the package.
Make sure all vents and registers are clear
If it’s been a few months since your heating system has been used, it’s possible that household items have found their way in front of the vents and registers. Go around the house and move any furniture, carpets, or any other objects that are in the way and could obstruct the airflow. Also, look into the vents and clean out any dust that may have accumulated inside.
Reprogram the thermostat
Now’s the time to reset the desired temperature on your thermostat when switching from cooling to heating. We recommend using a programmable or smart thermostat, which can automatically lower the temperature when you’re not home and save you money. Don’t forget to reprogram your ‘home’ and ‘away’ settings if your schedule changes in the fall, such as kids going back to school.
Declutter area around the furnace
While your furnace has been on summer vacation, it’s possible that other personal belongings have been pushed against or near the unit. For fire prevention, it’s recommended to have at least three feet of clearance between a heating source and another object. Do a quick check and remove any items that may be too close to your furnace.
Test your heating system
When all the rest of the to-list is complete, feel free to turn on the furnace to see if it runs and is performing well. Give it a few minutes and then check to make sure warm air is coming out of the vents. If the unit has a hard time turning back on, call an HVAC professional for service. Doing this sooner than later will help you beat the winter rush and ensure you don’t get stuck in the cold with a broken furnace.
HVAC maintenance versus installing a new system
Having a professional fall tune-up is one of the best ways to make sure that your heating system is ready to run properly and keep your energy bills as low as possible.
However, if your furnace is old or barely made it through last winter, it may be time to consider replacing it with a new unit. The average service life of a furnace is 16-20 years, although that can vary based on your usage and maintenance performed. No want enjoys the cost of installing a new heating system, but the good news is that newer units are much more energy efficient.