The winter will be over fairly soon, but in Rochester that cold likes to hang on for some time. With the low temperatures we've been experiencing, your HVAC system is likely working long hours making sure your home is warm. Now, it’s time to keep it that way.
The last thing you want is for your furnace to break down in the winter. The whole house — and your showers — will quickly become unbearably cold. There’s also a chance your pipes could freeze without indoor heat.
And, odds are you’ll pay a higher price for a repair. Most HVAC companies charge a higher price for priority repairs. That means you pay more to get bumped to the top of their list. In the wintertime, it may be worth the extra money, but it’s still more out of your pocket.
Unfortunately, there’s a better chance of your heater breaking in the dead of winter than any other time of year. This seems obvious since it’s the time of year when it’s getting used the most. And, your system is under extra stress when it’s especially cold out.
Fortunately, there are two major ways can prevent a breakdown. Of course, these aren’t guaranteed to keep your heater working. But, it’s much more likely to make it through the winter if you follow them.
Regular Maintenance Keeps Your Heater Working
Keeping your heater working all winter starts before the weather gets cold. You can take some steps to prepare an HVAC system for heavy work. And, you can still perform these even after winter’s kicked in.
For starters, make sure you’ve changed your air filter recently. That’s the small filter you can easily slide in and out of your heater. It traps dust, dirt and debris before it gets into your system and causes trouble.
Once the filter is full, it will also begin blocking regular air flow. This causes your heater to work less efficiently. It can also do major damage by trapping the heat inside the unit.
The general rule of thumb is to change your air filter every three months, or roughly every season. If you haven’t done so in a while, do it for the winter. Each one costs less than $10 and takes less than five minutes to swap out.
You can also do a general inspection of your HVAC system yourself. Last week, we looked at ten easy ways for you to make sure your heater is set to work as efficiently as possible.
Finally, consider getting a professional tune-up for your HVAC system. This is a good idea before you start using your heater for the winter. But, it’s still worth doing once the heater’s been on for a while.
For an HVAC system tuneup, a technician will clean out the system and inspect all the parts. This makes sure the heater is running in tip-top shape. You’ll also be able to make any minor repairs before they become bigger problems.
Keep The Thermostat Down
A great way to keep your HVAC system working all winter is making sure you’re not overusing it. Once the temperatures drop, your heater will be working a lot. Putting too much stress on it could cause a breakdown.
There are two easy ways to avoid overuse. One is by leaving the thermostat low as much as possible. The other is just plain leaving it alone as much as you can.
The simple reason is that the less work your furnace does, the less wear and tear on its parts. But, there’s more to the story than just that.
Of course, less wear and tear is a good reason to leave the temperature low. That can mean setting it to a lower temperature every night. You can also do so during the day if you know no one will be home for eight hours or longer.
This is not only because no one is there to need to the heat. It also has to do with physics. Heat always moves toward cooler areas. Therefore, with a lower thermostat setting, you lose less of the heat that your HVAC system is generating.
Once you’re home or awake, you just need to be careful about raising the temperature again. One mistake many people make is setting the thermostat higher than they desire make the house heat up quicker. Then, they’ll set it down to their desired temp once it’s warm.
But, setting the temperature higher doesn’t make your heater work faster. It just makes it work harder.
A heater works always works at the same capacity. It will just stay on longer to reach your desired temperature. That extra work means extra wear and tear.
On a related note, once you’ve set your temperature, keep it there. Sometimes people fiddle with the thermostat throughout the day. This can make the heater turn on and off more than necessary to keep up.
Your best bet is to choose one temperature for when you’re home and another for when you’re not. Then, stick to just those two. A smart thermostat may help you regulate these.