Monday, November 18, 2019 / by John Briley
As winter slowly approaches, it is time to give some thought to your homes heating system. While we are fortunate in the Upstate area to not have long periods of bitter cold, the last thing you want as a homeowner is to have your heat go out for a cold snap. If you haven't given it any thought, it is time to get moving before old man winter arrives.
New owners and seasoned owners alike may have little knowledge of home repairs and routine maintenance. There are plenty of easy tasks to complete that will help to improve your heating system's performance during the colder months. Below are some easy DIY items to complete this weekend:
Change your air filters. Your HVAC system will do its best when your filters are regularly replaced. The filter gets dirty over time and will have a harder time filtering the air and allowing your system to breathe. When this happens, the air being pulled through the system begins to diminish and in turn will reduce the ability to heat your home. Some HVAC systems have filters in the return registers (the larger vents typically near the thermostat on the wall or sometimes in the ceiling), while others have filters at the unit itself.
Clear the area around the air return. Your unit will work much more efficiently if allowed to properly breathe. Leaving a sofa or other furniture blocking that return vent is limiting the amount of air the system can take in to heat.
Do a seasonal test of your smoke detectors. Your heating system will get hot, and can become a minor fire hazard. Better to be safe than sorry. Most homes will have smoke alarms in each bedroom, living space and kitchen. You may want to invest in a Carbon Monoxide detector as well. These are often combined with Smoke Detectors and can warn of potential problems with Carbon Monoxide levels as well. There are plenty of stores here in the Upstate that carry these in stock. Depending on the age of the home, you may want to consider replacing all of the smoke alarms, as it is recommended to replace them every 10 years.
Turn on your ceiling fan. Having your ceiling fan on can actually save a ton of money during cooler months. Most ceiling fans have a switch that will reverse the motor. This will actually help pull the rising warm air in the room and push it back down into the living spaces.
Close the vents in your crawl space. If your home sits on a crawl space, rather than a slab, you will want to close the vents that are under the home. Left open, they will allow cold air under the home, making the ductwork colder and making your HVAC unit work even harder. This under home project will also give you time to visually inspect your plumbing to ensure it is properly insulated and ready for the cooler temps as well.
Be smart about it. Your thermostat, that is. Smart thermostats are one of the best upgrades one can make to their heating and air system. Most of these smart thermostats, like a Nest or Ecobee, are designed to work with most any system. They also give you the ability to either program or remotely turn on the system to make sure you come home to a warm home every day, and you aren't forced to choose leaving the heat on while you are away for the day or coming home to a cold home.
Depending on when you purchased your home, it is usually a good idea to have a regular inspection of the HVAC system to ensure that it is working at its best. Often times, home warranty companies offer a program that covers a seasonal HVAC inspection for a minimal cost. They will come out twice a year and do an inspection (typically in the spring and fall). Most HVAC companies are also willing to do an inspection to ensure the systems are functioning if your home warranty does not offer this. These inspections, and above tips, are a minimal expense that will help extend the life expectancy of your heating and air system.