Your heater is the single most important piece of equipment you have when winter comes. Can you imagine what your life would be like if it malfunctions in the middle of a blizzard?
You can call for heating system repair services, but that means you and your loved ones will shiver to the bone while the heating is out.
We all shudder at the thought of living in a home without a functioning heater during the winter months. Thankfully, we can prevent or at least reduce the chances of that happening by performing the tasks on the checklist below.
Check your outdoor unit
If your heater is a heat pump, then it has an outdoor unit that needs to be clear of debris. Focus on the outdoor coil and make sure you remove leaves, grass, and any vegetation around it.
There should also be no trash cans, recycle bins, trash lids, or any object that could impede airflow. The exhaust vents must be free of debris as well.
For furnace users, you might want to check on your AC condenser, if you have one. You will need to protect it from snowfall, sleet, and other conditions that it may be exposed to during the winter months when you’re not using it. An outdoor cover should do the trick.
Check the filters
Whether you have a heat pump or a furnace for a heater, your unit has an air filter that you need to clean or replace.
Manufacturers often recommend doing this every three months, but some suggest that filters should be cleaned or replaced monthly.
It would be a terrible idea to neglect your heater’s filters, as dirty ones will reduce airflow and lessen its efficiency.
The compressor of your heat pump may also sustain damage if the blockage lasts for an extended period.
So remove the filter and wash it, then dry it thoroughly before putting it back.
It would also be great if you can buy extra filters, particularly during the warmer months when they tend to be cheaper.
Keep the heat exchanger clean
Before winter sets in, you need to make sure that the heat exchanger is clean because dirt and grime can cause it to fail.
Some people do the cleaning themselves, but it’s best to have a trained professional brush and vacuum the heat exchange once a year for you.
While the technician cleans the heat exchanger of your furnace, he or she can also check it for leaks to ensure that there is no risk of a deadly carbon monoxide leak.
Test the ignitor on your furnace
If you have been relying on an old furnace for heating your home, then you will probably have to relight the pilot.
However, if you have a newer system, then it has an electronic igniter switch that you will have to test to make sure it works just fine.
Just hit the reset button if and when the ignitor doesn’t work. If resetting doesn’t do anything, check your breaker.
If the breaker’s fine and the igniter switch still doesn’t cooperate, it probably time to call in an HVAC professional.
Remove items near the furnace
Furnaces are always sidelined when the summer months come. Since it’s not being used, we tend to store things near it.
However, when the cold season creeps in, and you’re going to need to use the furnace, don’t forget to remove those things you stored beside it.
You wouldn’t want to risk them catching fire while the furnace is running full blast.
You might also want to get furniture or any household items out of the way of your air ducts and return vents.
Stock up on gas
If you’re operating a gas furnace, then it would be wise to fill the whole thing up before winter comes. The best time to gas up your furnace is during the hot summer months when fuel is less expensive.
If you buy gas for your furnace in the middle of winter, you can expect to pay a lot more for it.
Have your furnace or heat pump checked by a professional
We can do some of the preventive measures mentioned above like cleaning the filter or clearing debris off the outside unit. Some tasks, however, need to be handled by HVAC professionals.
You can’t risk tinkering with the internal components you might not be able to put back together. Trained and experienced HVAC technicians are better-equipped to spot small problems you will probably miss and fix them before they get out of hand.
There is no better time for you to check on your heating system than way before the onset of winter. Performing preventive maintenance and repairs ahead of time will help you steer clear of costly and dangerous breakdowns in the middle of the cold season.
With an optimally-functioning heater, you and your family can stay warm and toasty all winter long.