Is your home prepared for the upcoming colder weather? If not, there are certain things you can do to prepare to make sure your house is ready for your furnace to start running this upcoming season.
If your home is not sealed or appropriately prepared for winter, it can impact how effectively your furnace runs and make your heating bills sky-high. By being prepared before the weather changes, not only can you save money, but you can make your home more comfortable.
Ways To Help Prep Your Home for Heating Season
Sealing Windows and Doors
One of the most affordable ways you can help prepare your home for winter is by sealing your windows and doors. Pick a material that can withstand friction, weather, and temperature changes, such as vinyl or stainless steel. This is a simple way to keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside. It will also keep your furnace from running as frequently and work more effectively.
Reversing Your Ceiling Fan
You can also reverse the direction of your ceiling fan to change the movement of the air. Most ceiling fans have a switch where you can reverse the airflow. The blades rotating clockwise will help push the air down and better disperse the air in your home.
Turn on Your Thermostat
Turn on your thermostat for the season and up the temperature a few degrees to make sure your furnace turns on the way that it should. If you do not hear it come on or the temperature does not increase after a period of time, call your HVAC technician for a diagnostic appointment on your furnace.
You’ve likely heard this before, but make sure to change your filter on a regular basis. Changing the filter every three months is fine for most homes, but you may want to consider changing it more frequently if you have children, pets, or smoke inside your home.
Should I Cover My AC Condenser
This is a reasonable question, given the snow and ice we face yearly in Central Ohio. Not to mention the scores of leaves and pine needles that rain down with the temperature change.
A quick search through Google to this question will lead you to many “yes” answers; you should shield your unit from leaves, then the snow and ice. The big box stores typically will have AC covers in stock.
But our answer is “No.” Air conditioners are built to be outside. Covering it can lead to unintended consequences. We had a customer that made a cover on his AC. Mice had decided to live there because it was sheltered and caused it to blow up.
We’ve had customers who turn on the air conditioner in the spring without remembering that they covered it. The AC sucks in the covering, which doesn’t allow the air conditioning to breathe. As a result, it overheats and will burn out.
If there’s debris at the bottom of the unit, an HVAC tech should clean out the pine needles and other debris during a regularly scheduled visit. You can do this cleaning yourself in a few minutes, but please don’t use a power washer. The insides of your AC aren’t built to withstand a strong stream of water.
Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Chimney
Thinking about starting any cozy fires in the upcoming winter months? Make sure you have your chimney inspected and swept out beforehand. A quality company can identify any maintenance or safety issues prior to use.
With fire comes the risk of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced anytime a fossil fuel is burned. It can cause headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion and ultimately lead to death. Over 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning every year
The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is by installing a battery-operated or battery backup carbon monoxide sensor in your home. Replace these detectors every five years and keep them in a place that is somewhere you will hear it go off, such as outside the bedroom.
Additionally, keep these safety tips in mind to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical-based indoor heaters
- When buying gas equipment, only buy equipment that has a seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories.
- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly and safely. Water heaters and other appliances should have horizontal vent pipes that go up slightly as they go outside your home. This should prevent CO from leaking out if the joints are not fitted properly.
- Do not create a patch for a vent pipe with tape, gum, or another substance, and call a qualified professional if you find any issues.
- Do not burn charcoal inside your home.
- Point all generators away from your home and do not operate them inside or within 20 feet of any door, window, or basement.
There are also a few key items to keep in mind when first turning on your furnace for the season.
Be Aware of Any Changes When First Turning on Your Furnace
Strange Smells Coming From Furnace
It is normal to have a slightly strange smell when your furnace first kicks on for the season, but if you notice it continuing, shut off your unit and call your HVAC technician.
A similar concept to what was mentioned above, it is normal for your furnace to sound slightly off for the first run-through of the year, but if it continues, call your technician for a diagnostic appointment.
Safety tips aside, regular maintenance is a big part of preventing some of these issues or noticing things before they turn into more significant problems for your furnace.
Schedule Maintenance on Your Furnace Every Fall
At Fire & Ice, we typically recommend that your furnace be tuned up every fall. Why is that? It’s generally the season before most people in the country regularly use their furnaces. It also allows you and us to fix issues before your system is routinely used. That way, you are not frozen instead of your home needing an emergency repair.
One way to keep on track with your tune-ups is by signing up for a maintenance agreement.
Maintenance Agreements Can Help Keep Your System in Top Shape
Check out our maintenance agreement page for a complete list of services in our available maintenance agreements.
Below we talk about a few critical aspects of the plans and why they exemplify the desirable traits you want in a maintenance plan.
All our maintenance agreement customers get access to priority service when placing a call for tune-ups or service. Depending on your level, you can select which technician you have or pick a time on a Saturday.
Repair warranties for replacement parts sometimes last as little as 60 days from the manufacturer. With our three maintenance agreements extending this warranty to one, two, and three years, there’s peace of mind knowing that a repair wasn’t done just to collect a paycheck and get it running for a short while. If we aren’t confident the repair will last for years, we won’t do it, and you’re covered either way.
Lifetime Workmanship Guarantee
Guarantees like this are rare in the industry. Ours states the following:
“We guarantee the following items for the lifetime of the equipment against defects in materials or workmanship from the date the system is installed:
- All ductwork we install
- All ductwork insulation we install
- Other items we install include sheet metal straps, clamps, fasteners, hangers, locks, drivers, drain piping, and fittings.
- All high-voltage electrical wiring, wire nuts, straps, ties, and connectors we install
- All refrigerant piping we install (does not include the cost to gain access to underground or other inaccessible piping)
- Refrigerant insulation we install
- All equipment pads, stands, jacks, and vibration elimination devices we install
Proper maintenance is what allows us to offer this unique guarantee. The only requirement to keep this protection in force for the lifetime of the equipment is to renew your annual maintenance program when due.”
And if you think these are empty words, I can again promise you that we’ve honored this agreement on those rare occasions when the work is done improperly. We pride ourselves on attention to detail, but no HVAC contractor is beyond fault. Having a guarantee like this is a protection for the customer.
No Overtime Fees
If the job pays a contractor, you risk them doing a quick, poor job simply to rush to the next one. But if they’re paid hourly, a homeowner might worry about extended time. Protections like this are designed to hold a repair technician accountable, keep a company accountable, and standardize customer costs.
Collective Energy Savings
Equipment tune-ups, free filter replacements, and evaporator or blower cleanings add up. All the reasons we discussed earlier apply to these everyday tasks, and guaranteeing that you’re having them done when they’re needed (often at a reduced cost) will benefit you over your system's life.
This also translates to the level of comfort you feel inside your home.
Next Steps to Secure Your Home’s Comfort for Winter
At Fire & Ice, we understand how tricky it can be to make sure your furnace is prepped for winter. Give us a call if you have any additional questions. Also, if you live in the Columbus, Ohio area, check if we service your area by using the zip code map below
If you feel ready to take the next step, use the button below to schedule your free estimate.