With cooler weather quickly approaching, now is the time to test your heating system to make sure it’s working properly. It’s a better idea to do it now when the weather is mild instead of waiting until all the HVAC companies are flooded with calls. Once the first cold snap hits, everyone will be using their systems for the first time in the season. If you wait until then, you’ll be in a long line of people who are all trying to get their heaters fixed.
Whether your system uses oil, natural gas, propane, or a heat pump, you obviously want to make sure that it’s blowing warm air. Furnaces usually give off a bit of an odor as they burn the dust that’s accumulated through the system (which is completely normal). With natural gas or propane systems, you want to make sure that the burners come on. For an oil system, you’ll need to make sure that there aren’t any big puffbacks of oil. The tank should be full and the line from the tank to the burner should be open and flowing easily. Unlike natural gas or propane heaters, oil tanks can accumulate sediment buildup over time.
If you have a heat pump system in your home, you should turn on the electric strip backup heat to make sure it’s functioning properly. Heat pumps are basically a reversing valve in the air conditioning unit. The air conditioner is doing double duty since it’s running practically year-round. That’s why it’s very important to have a professional tune-up performed on a regular basis. Most of the studies we’ve seen say that you can end up saving as much as 20% off your energy bill.
If the heating system isn’t blowing warm air as expected, it could be something as minor as the igniter, a capacitor, or a contactor. It could also potentially be a major failure, depending on the age of the equipment. Unfortunately, the lifespan of these systems has decreased as they’ve become more energy efficient. We now see an 8-12 year average for the air conditioner and a 12-15 year average on the furnace.
As a bare minimum, you should change the filter, vacuum around the unit, and vacuum inside the area where the filter slides in (if accessible). Of course, filters should always be changed monthly/quarterly according to the system’s specifications. Otherwise, you run the risk of dramatically reducing the life of the system. Beyond those steps, there’s very little that a homeowner can do safely unless they are experienced with working on HVAC systems. There’s always the potential to make the situation worse if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Boulden Brothers are here to help you properly maintain your HVAC system throughout the year. We can either come to your home to do a tune-up or we can make a visit as part of our BAM Club membership. Membership includes a visit twice a year to make sure your system stays in tip-top shape. To learn more, give us a call today or contact us online.