Sep 25, 2018
Image: The Money Pit
The dog days of summer are just about over, at least for the residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. As the temperature begins to drop and humidity leaves the air, homeowners should be thinking about how to prepare their homes for fall.
One of the most important items on any homeowner’s fall maintenance checklist should be a furnace inspection. Trust us — it’s better to tackle heating repairs as soon as possible rather than when it’s 40 degrees outside.
Here’s how you can switch from air conditioning to heat and get your heating system prepared for the chillier weather:
Turn Off the Air Conditioning Unit
When switching from air conditioning to heat, the first step, of course, is to turn off the air conditioning — but it doesn’t stop there.
After you’ve powered down your A/C unit, you need to perform some maintenance tasks to ensure your system remains in good condition until your annual HVAC inspection in the spring. Here’s how you can properly shut down your air conditioning system for the fall and winter months:
- Power down the A/C. Find your HVAC exterior power circuit, usually mounted to the side of your home in a small box, and flip the power switch to the “off” position. Cutting power to the A/C prevents the risk of electrocution while performing maintenance.
- Clean the unit. Be sure to get rid of any debris, like leaves or twigs, surrounding your A/C unit. Wash off any dust or dirt that has built up on the vents to keep the unit in good condition during its off-season.
- Check for damage. Cracks, leaks, and rust can cause serious problems for your HVAC system in the future, so it’s best to check for any damage or irregularities and contact one of our HVAC technicians if repairs are required.
- Cover the unit. A vinyl or plastic air conditioner cover protects and insulates your unit, which prevents damage to the internal components of your system. Air conditioner covers can be found at most home improvement stores as well as online.
- Perform routine maintenance. Check on your A/C every few weeks throughout the fall and winter to remove any debris, rain water, snow, or ice that can accumulate on the unit.
Clean Air Ducts
Before you turn on your furnace for the season, it’s important to make sure your vents are free of obstructions that can hinder your system’s ability to adequately heat your home. Common items found in ventilation systems, especially in homes with floor vents, include plastic food wrappers, receipts, and even toys, all of which can potentially cause house fires if left in a heat vent for an extended period of time.
Homeowners should also wipe down vent covers and check the vents for any debris, like dust, mold, and pet hair. These contaminants circulate throughout air and cause other issues for you and your family, such as allergies and frequent dust build-up on furniture.
Replace Furnace Filters
Clogged furnace filters are one of the most common causes of heating issues. Over time, dust and debris can build up on your furnace filters, forcing your heating system to work harder to circulate warm air throughout your home.
Aside from the initial filter replacement at the start of each heating season, homeowners should check on the status of the filter every month or so, replacing as needed. If you or a family member suffers from chronic allergies, consider upgrading to a HEPA filter to prevent allergens from contaminating the air in your home.
Read more: Warm Up to These Heating Troubleshooting Tips
Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors
A furnace that is not running properly can be extremely dangerous, as carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete combustion.
Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous gas, known as the “silent killer” because it is colorless and odorless, making it hard to detect in the event of a leak. Hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year. It is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the U.S.
Keep your loved ones safe by testing your carbon monoxide detectors every few months, especially at the start of heating season when you kick the furnace back on. To test your carbon monoxide detector:
- Locate the “test” button and hold it down until you hear two beeps. Once these beeps sound, take your finger off of the button.
- Repeat the first step, this time pressing the test button until four beeps sound. Four beeps indicate that a signal was sent to your monitoring station.
- Wait 10 to 15 minutes, then check to make sure your alarm switches from “test mode” back to its original setting. You will need to disconnect and reset your device if it does not return to its original setting.
Important note: Make sure you contact your home security company before conducting a CO detector test to prevent a false alarm.
Schedule a Heating Inspection
Don’t wait until something goes wrong to have your furnace serviced. Heating repairs or replacement should be taken care of early, so you can have peace of mind knowing your heating system won’t break down in the middle of the winter. Call CroppMetcalfe’s HVAC experts at 703-698-8855 or schedule an appointment online today.