Get Ready for the Cincinnati Winter with These Fall HVAC Maintenance Tips

Fall HVAC Maintenance Tips

It’s official – the cooler temperatures of fall are soon to arrive in Cincinnati. As air conditioners shut down for a long winter’s nap, it’s time for homeowners and HVAC professionals to prepare heating systems for the winter season that’s soon to come. With the right HVAC maintenance tips, your home’s HVAC system will be ready to heat your living areas with maximum efficiency once the seasons turn again.

Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing detail the fall HVAC maintenance tips all Cincinnati homeowners should perform this season. Trust this HVAC maintenance advice from a trusted, licensed HVAC professional to help you lower energy bills and keep your system in good shape during fall and beyond. Read on to learn what you should be doing to prep your furnace, heat pump, or boiler for the cooler months ahead, including:

  • Schedule professional fall HVAC maintenance tune up service
  • Evaluate summer setpoints and adjust temperature settings for fall
  • Clean the heating and cooling system outdoor unit
  • Replace air filters
  • Maintain proper airflow by keeping vents open
  • Maintenance tips for safety when using a natural gas, propane, or oil heating unit

With a little know-how, you’ll be able to care for your heating and air conditioning unit and keep it safe through the coming season of heavy use. This preventative maintenance advice will help your system consume less energy, your energy costs stay affordable, and your family keep comfortable, no matter what! To request an appointment for HVAC maintenance service or to ask questions about our maintenance tips, contact us today online or by phone.

Book a Preventative Maintenance Services Now

If you’ve read any blogs about fall HVAC system maintenance care, you’re going to be familiar with the heating system’s need for a professional tune up this season. In the long run, a yearly professional servicing is the best thing you can do for your furnace, heat pump, or boiler – which is why you see this advice repeated over and over again. While we advise you complete all the HVAC maintenance tips on our list this fall, if you were only able to do one, we’d certainly recommend scheduling this service to be performed by your trusted HVAC professionals.

Heating equipment needs one HVAC maintenance tune up each year, as does the home’s air conditioning system. If you use a heat pump throughout the year, that system will receive both tune ups in a year’s time as it runs as a heater and an air conditioner. In the fall ahead of cold weather is the best time to have this service performed, for many reasons.

How Does HVAC Maintenance Benefit a Heater?

  • Preventative maintenance service performed by an HVAC professional inspects the condition of your heater to verify that all system components are in good shape and working correctly.
  • If they’re not, this service provides an opportunity for a skilled tradesperson to examine every inch of your unit to identify performance flaws in need of repair. Those repairs can then be made now, before it’s time to start using the system for the season.
  • You won’t be stuck waiting in the cold for help when you finally discover them yourself on the first day of cold weather, nor be forced to call for emergency repairs that cost more money.
  • Tune ups deliver the TLC an HVAC system needs to operate at peak energy efficiency through the cold months, which means your energy bills will be lower and you’ll save money not only on electricity or gas, but with fewer repair bills to pay!
  • Your heating system will last longer too without wear and tear damage adding up each year, so you have more time between new system replacements for your home.

What Happens During Professional Fall HVAC Maintenance Service?

When you schedule an appointment to have a licensed heating and air conditioning system technician tune up your heater, the actual steps involved depend on the type of HVAC equipment in use. The service usually takes about an hour to complete and can involve tasks such as:

  • Oiling the bearings inside the blower motor
  • Cleaning coils in the outdoor condenser
  • Tightening all electrical connections
  • Checking for cracks in the heat exchanger
  • Measuring temperature drop and air flow rates
  • And other care your system needs to function at its best

HVAC Maintenance Tips for Do-It-Yourselfers

While professional maintenance is second to none in terms of caring for your heating system, there are additional tasks a homeowner should perform outside of these annual appointments. Without these routine maintenance tasks, the efficiency and performance of your heating system or air conditioner could be greatly compromised. Definitely perform these steps in the fall, but it’s helpful to repeat them through summer, spring, and winter, too!

Air Filter Maintenance

Keep your HVAC system supplied with proper airflow when you replace air filters on a regular basis in the fall, during the winter season, and afterwards across the spring and summer months, too. To do this, pull out the current air filter and examine the media. If it looks thoroughly caked with dust, dirt, and debris, toss it and replace it with a new air filter. If it’s hard to tell, shine a light through the air filter – if the light can be seen through the filter, it will last a little longer if needed. Check the system’s air filter each month to decide if the air filter should be replaced. Clean air filters help the HVAC system, air conditioner or heater, maintain air flow so it doesn’t overheat or use more energy than needed.

Outdoor Unit Maintenance

During air conditioning season, it’s important to keep the outside air conditioner unit clean and clear of debris. If your home is heated by a heat pump, you need to keep this up throughout the year and this system produces warm air for the home using the outdoor components. Remove debris stuck to the unit’s exterior, vegetation growing up against it, limbs encroaching on the outdoor condenser, and outdoor items stored up against the equipment so it will receive adequate air movement to exchange heat energy.

Keep Vents Open or Closed?

You’ve probably heard someone say to close vents in parts of your house that you don’t regularly use to save energy and money. This bad information is still commonly passed around as an energy saving tip, but it’s really not – and can actually be quite harmful. In the fall, go through each room of the house and check the vents. If you have louvered register covers, make sure the louvers are set to the open position and are not jammed due to dust and debris buildup. Remove heavy furniture, carpeting, and other belongings sitting on top of or otherwise blocking registers to supply or return ducts. With all vents open, your HVAC system will function as it’s designed to, keeping enough air moving through the home and unit to avoid overheating and excess pressure in the duct system – both of which can cause damage and energy loss.

Discover Drafts and End Them

Drafty windows, doors, and more cause a home to waste heated air in the winter. The air and the energy used to warm it escape into the outdoors. Find and seal drafts this fall so your house keeps in more of the warm air your furnace or heater creates during the cold months. Common drafty areas are frames around windows and doors, pipe or wire penetrations running between the interior and exterior of the house, attic hatches, chimneys, and more.

Check Thermostat Settings and Adjust the Temperature for the Cooler Months

Fall brings cooler temperatures than cooling season, and winter will be colder yet. When you shut off the air conditioning for the year, it’s time to reevaluate thermostat settings and make adjustments for heating season.

  • If your goal is to maximize energy efficiency while staying comfortable and warm, program the thermostat temperature to 68 degrees for times when people are indoors and active in the home.
  • To increase your savings, lower temperatures by 7 to 10 degrees over a span of eight or more hours a day. Doing this can reduce HVAC energy use up to 10 percent, and you won’t notice a difference when you’re at work all day or asleep overnight.
  • Make sure thermostats are able to accurately communicate with the home’s HVAC equipment at all times or else temperatures may be off indoors. Replace batteries every six months, even if the current batteries are not dead. Even hardwired thermostats should have batteries installed as a backup source of power in the event of a tripped breaker or other electrical issue.

Fall HVAC Safety Tips

While comfort is a homeowner’s primary cool weather HVAC concern, safety is important, too, if you have a heater that uses natural gas, liquid propane, or heating oil. The heating and air conditioning tips below will help you keep your family safe and warm.

  • Keep combustible products and flammable materials away from the unit – don’t store or use them nearby. Leave a minimum of 30 inches clear on all sides of your heater.
  • Test all carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms monthly. Replace them if the alarm doesn’t play, isn’t loud, or the unit has reached its expiration date (carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five to seven years, smoke detectors every 10 years).
  • Change batteries in all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors every six months, even if they aren’t dead yet.
  • Beware that you may experience a burning odor when you first run the furnace or heater after several months off. Dust, dirt, and debris collect as the system sits dormant and they burn off when the unit starts up again. If the smell bothers you, run the blower motor fan or bathroom exhaust fans, or crack windows to clear it out faster. If the odor lasts more than an hour or smells more like an electrical fire or metallic burning smell, turn off the HVAC system and contact your heating company for repairs before you continue to use the system.
  • A rotten egg smell is a sign of a gas leak, which could come from your furnace, boiler, gas water heater, oven, or even a damaged gas utility line. If you detect this smell, get everyone out of the house fast and don’t do anything that could cause sparks that could ignite the gas. Call 911 and don’t go back inside until an official tells you it is safe. Depending on the source of the leak, you may need to call your HVAC or plumbing company to make repairs before using the faulty gas appliance again.

Care for Your Heater and Cross Fall HVAC Maintenance Off Your List!

When you complete the HVAC maintenance tips explained above, you can rest assured heating systems will be in good shape and running as efficiently as possible this year. To make an appointment for heating maintenance services, contact the Thomas & Galbraith team today.

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