Preparing for the fall goes further than stocking up on warm socks and pumpkin-flavored treats. You need to make sure your HVAC system is functioning correctly. Otherwise, you’re likely to face some long cold days and even longer nights.
Don’t worry, though; we’re going to cover the top ten fall HVAC tips to make sure you’re more than ready!
1. Replace Your Filters
Just like with any other season, fall HVAC maintenance begins with checking your filters. Even if you’ve been doing an excellent job keeping up with them, now is the perfect time to install fresh filters
If you are replacing the old one, it is also optimal to consider upgrading to a reusable filter. You should be monitoring your filters monthly, and if you have to replace them each time, it can be adding up to a considerable expense. Sure, it’s only a few dollars, but it’s still money you can be saving and put toward your monthly heating bills.
2. Clean Vents and Registers
Registers that can breathe freely are as crucial as clean filters. While you’re cleaning the house, take the time to make sure no registers are blocked with dust and dirt. Cleaning is as simple as removing the register to ensure the front and back are clear of debris.
When the registers are removed, take the time to make sure the ducts are clean as well. Be sure to take a look to ensure no mold is present either. If it is, you can use a bleach and water solution to deal with it yourself. You can also call a professional to remove it if you feel that help is necessary.
3. Reprogram Your Thermostat
If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, now’s the time to make an upgrade. These devices allow you to keep the heat off while you’re at work, and it can be set to turn it on just before you get home. Doing so can significantly reduce your energy bills. If you do have a programmable thermostat, take a few minutes to reprogram the settings. Otherwise, you’re going to walk into a cool surprise.
4. Clean the Drains
Throughout the HVAC system, many condensate drains are present. This is a good time to make sure there are no clogs and give them a proper cleaning. This is true even for the condensate drain located below your evaporator coils.
Although you won’t be putting the AC system to use, it’s still a good idea to stop mildew in its tracks. Also, consider that you’ll have to do it again next spring, and cleaning it now will reduce how much work you need to do then.
5. Insulate the Ducts
An excellent way to get the most out of your heating system is to insulate the ducts. Heat transfer is a major issue as cold ducts will absorb heat as they pass through many rooms in the home. Insulation will make sure that more heat will pass through the registers and into the desired rooms. Furthermore, this will also help with cooling when the time comes to turn the AC back on.
6. Inspect/Repair the Ducts
In addition to insulating the ducts, you should be inspecting their condition. Small leaks will be sealed with insulation, which helps increase efficiency. But in many cases, the leaks can be on account of faulty or deteriorated ducts. Major leaks are only going to waste energy and should be replaced.
7. Insulate the Attic
Hot air rises, and an uninsulated attic is a surefire way to rob your HVAC system of its performance. Your attic may already be insulated, but you should still be mindful of the condition. Insulation can begin to fall from fiberglass batts after 10-15 years. If your insulation uses fiberglass batts and it’s been more than a decade since it’s been installed, you should consider inspecting and replacing it if necessary.
8. Switch your Fan’s Direction
If your home has ceiling fans, remember to switch the direction of operation. During the spring, your fans are set to run counter-clockwise to pull warm air up toward the ceiling. During the winter, you should set the fan to run clockwise to create the opposite effect. This simple step can make a big difference in how your home feels during the cold season.
9. Schedule a Tune-Up/ Inspection
While there are many things on this list that will help you get the most out of your system, a professional’s hands may be able to take things further. A professional inspection and furnace tune-up will help ensure every part of your system is up to par and ready to take on the long cold Virginian winter.
10. Update your HVAC System
A leading cause of high energy bills is using dated HVAC equipment to heat and cool your home. Also, consider that it takes about three times more energy to heat a house than it does to cool it. That means an old system isn’t doing you any favors in the cold season.
If your system is about 15-20 years old, you might want to consider making the update before it can dip further into your savings during the cooler months of the year. Yes, it is a big expense out of pocket, but the amount of money you’ll save on energy bills will more than compensate for it.
As you can tell, fall maintenance is very similar to preparation for any season except for some unique practices. As always, we encourage you to tackle what you can and learn as much about your home system as possible.
However, never go beyond your skill level. There’s no shame in calling for professional help to prevent the risk of damaging your equipment or causing harm to yourself.