As winter is getting ready to bear its’ ugly head, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you, your home, and your heating and cooling system are ready! Be sure to take the following measures, so you are prepared prior to its arrival.
1. Have Your Humidifier Ready To Go!
During the winter season the air can be extremely dry. This dry air can be bad for both you and your home. Dry air can cause the following: static electricity, dry out houseplants, affects the glue in furniture, shrinks the wood in furniture, and can contribute to health problems, particularly respiratory problems. Therefore, it is essential to you and your home that your humidifier is clean and turned on for this winter season. How to prepare your humidifier? First, be sure to replace the pad (if applicable). This step is very important because overtime lime scale and mold build up in the humidifier, which can be harmful to your health. Next, you should clean your humidifier with a little bleach and water. This will kill any traces of mold that may be left. At the end of the winter season it is important to drain and shut off the humidifier. The door for the bypass should be left closed (if applicable). These steps will help preserve your humidifier and protect it against contamination for the following season.
2. Have Your Filter Changed!
It is beneficial to start the season with a clean HVAC filter. On average your filter should be changed once a month but you can refer to the side of your filter for manufacturer’s recommendation as it may vary.
3. Cover Your Outside Air Conditioner!
Keeping your air conditioner covered will help to protect it from leaves, water, snow and any other elements of winter from entering into it, which will help preserve its integrity. Just remember to remove the covering before turning it on in the spring and summer.
4. Prepare The Vents In Your Home!
If you have vents that are located at floor and ceiling height, it is important to close off your top vents and open the bottom ones. Since your heat will be running all winter long and hot air rises; you want the heat to come out of your lower vents and rise throughout the room.
5. Check Your Exhaust Gas Furnace or Hot Water Heater For Blockage!
Over the spring and summer months vines and trees may grow or fall blocking the exhaust gas from your furnace or hot water heater. The blockage can impede exhaust gases from leaving your home, which increases the chances of these gases backing up into your home.
6. Change Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors!
Did you know that the most carbon monoxide is produced in the winter time? This gas is given off by gas furnaces, stoves, and gas fireplaces; all of which are run most frequently during the winter months. Also, during these months our homes are shut from the outside air. Older homes exchange air at a higher rate while newer homes are constructed air tight. Air tight homes have a much lower exchange rate of air thus; carbon monoxide is trapped in your home and unable to escape. In order to protect your family you should check the expiration date on your carbon monoxide detector. The majority of detectors only have a five year life expectancy.
7. Check Your Fireplace!
On a sunny day open your damper and look up your chimney. You want to look for potential nests or homes made by animals as this is common by birds, squirrels, and raccoons during the summer months. If your chimney is clear you will be able to see daylight. However, some chimneys take hard turns; therefore, a nest or sun light may not be visible. There is nothing worse than lighting your first fire and having your home fill with smoke and soot. This would result in a call to you insurance company.
8. Get Your Air Ducts Cleaned!
When your home was built the designer of your heating and duct work system calculates how many cubic feet per minute (CFM) is required to heat your home. This number is calculated based on an open, clean pathway in your duct work. Overtime and use dust and other containments build up in your duct work constricting the ease at which air flows. The greater the amount of buildup, the more constriction of air flow and as a result, the longer it takes to heat or cool a room. The longer it takes to heat or cool a room then the longer your furnace must run to reach desired temperature. A furnace that runs 10% longer because of build-up loses 10% of its total life.
Many people believe that the filter on their system is sufficient in trapping containments; but did you know that the average filter only keeps 30% of dirt out of the air? Even a good filter can only stop 60% of dirt while the best filter can filtrate 85% of containments. This means that between 15-70% of dirt is still getting into your ductwork!
For example, a 15% reduction in duct work size due to dirt build up equals 15% longer to heat an area. 15% longer to heat your home + 5% increase in fuel cost + for every 1 degree colder than last year your energy/electric bill can go up 3-5%!
Furthermore, dirt build up can be extremely harmful to your HVAC system. It is extremely abrasive and causes premature wear on the moving parts of your system. The blower motor in your system is designed for air to flow freely but when the openings get clogged your motor temperature raises proportional to the amount of blockage. i.e. 50% blockage equals a 50% increase in temperature! Running your blower motor at a high temperature decreases its life expectancy!
Your duct work system can be compared to your car. If you do not have your oil changed regularly then your car’s motor will burn out prematurely. Well, the same goes for your HVAC system.
While we have NO control over Mother Nature and the cost of gas but we DO have control over our duct work conditions.