Hopefully, as your HVAC system kicked its heating capacity into full gear over the past few weeks, you are currently warm and toasty and thumbing your nose at the cold weather beating down your door.
That being said, it is still a good idea to run a thorough check of your furnace or heat pump – in fact, your entire HVAC system – as what we’ve experienced in north Georgia so far could just be a taste of what is to come over the winter months (remember, winter doesn’t even officially start until December 21). And just because things may seem hunky dory right now, it does not mean that your heating system could be set up for failure over the coming days and weeks.
So, just how do you tackle winter system prep for your HVAC unit?
The process is actually pretty simple and will let you know if you need to undertake serious diagnostic steps, such as calling a professional HVAC technician.
- Shut the system down
ALWAYS turn everything off on your entire HVAC system before performing any type of maintenance or status checks.
- Check your filters
When was the last time you (or an HVAC technician) replaced your filters? They should be replaced at least once a quarter, possibly more – especially if you have pets in your home. If your filter is dirty, you’ll be able to tell visually. And if you know it’s been more than three months since it’s been changed, it’s best to go ahead and change it out anyway. Dirty filters make your system work harder to circulate air – meaning that you pay more in utility bills – and can actually prevent warm air from evenly heating your home. You will be able to find your system’s filters next to the air handler and furnace/heat pump. Each filter carries its specifications on the side of the filter itself.
- Listen to your unit at work
OK, now that you know the filters are clean, it’s time to turn your heating system back on. Once it is powered back up and running, take a few minutes and listen to it at work. If it is making any weird noises – specifically banging or rattling, though wheezing and whistling could be bad signs as well – take note and see if you can pinpoint from what part of the HVAC system they are emanating (furnace, heat pump, ductwork, etc.).
- Be wary of moisture
Set your thermostat so that it is running on full heat (just a few degrees warmer than your usual indoor temperature) for a few minutes. After your furnace/heat pump is running at full strength, go around your home and check for the presence of moisture accumulation on windows. If it happens only briefly – especially if it is exceptionally cold outside – then it is likely nothing to be concerned about. However, if you constantly notice moisture build up then you have too much humidity emanating from your system and will need a professional inspection to determine the source of the problem (which could be solved by something like a de-humidifier system). Rust or dirt presence on windows during furnace operation can also indicate a malfunction in your heating system.
- Check your entire home
Allow your furnace/heat pump to return to your normal comfortable indoor temperature for several hours and then proceed to each room in your home in order to check their status. Are all the rooms in your home comfortable? If not, then you could have a problem with your heating system. Please make sure that all vents (supply and return) are unblocked and open. A fully functional vent required 18 inches of clear space in order to work. If you do have one or more rooms not receiving enough warmth, the problem could be in the furnace or in the ductwork. At this point you need to begin to see if you can locate the source of the problem. Are there holes in your ductwork preventing proper air circulation? If not, then you need to take a more in-depth diagnostic look at your furnace/heat pump, which may require professional intervention.
If, in the process of your winter system prep, you discover that your heating system is indeed malfunctioning, please consider contacting a NATE-certified HVAC professional. They will run an in-depth diagnostic test of your system and learn the source of the issue and then have the ability to resolve the problem at speed – keeping your family from dealing with the discomfort of a cold home.
Conditioned Air Systems has supplied warming comfort to homes throughout north Georgia since 1983, and we are ready to help you keep the cold at bay. Simply call us today at 770-536-7509 and let us diagnose whatever heating problems you may be facing.