It’s not too late to winterize your home heating and cooling systems with these essential HVAC maintenance steps.
Our home HVAC systems are typically an “out of sight, out of mind” situation. Although they keep us cool in the summer and warm in the winter, we don’t typically see or interact with them beyond setting a temperature on the thermostat. But there are a few HVAC maintenance steps you need to take (such as winterizing your AC unit). This will keep you cozy all winter long, reduce energy costs, and help you avoid extensive repair or maintenance once summer rolls around again.
The North Carolina climate provides unique challenges for HVAC preventative maintenance: Although freezing temperatures, snow, and icy conditions aren’t everyday occurrences, they’re not unheard of. You’ll want to prepare your heating/cooling units for whatever the winter brings.
HVAC Preventative Maintenance Steps
Winterize Your Central AC Unit
It may seem silly to do air conditioner maintenance in the winter months, but this is actually the best time to perform these tasks! First: change or clean the air filter, so that it is ready to go next year. If you have central air conditioning, turn off the power supply to the unit. You may be able to do this with the circuit breaker, if the unit is on its own breaker. If you’re not sure, ask a professional to help you with this.
Be sure to turn off the power supply to the air conditioner before performing any maintenance. Leave the power supply off throughout the winter season. This is crucial in North Carolina, because a temperate or warm day may cause the AC to kick on if it’s still powered to the main circuit breaker.
Although your central air functions indoors, your unit will be located outdoors, near your house. Clean it from leaves, pine needles, grass, or other seasonal debris. If you wipe it down with a cloth or use a hose, let it dry fully. Cover the unit with a protective sheath that fits snugly so as to avoid animals or birds from nesting in loose folds. Throughout the winter, clear the unit of ice and excess snow buildup.
Winterize Your Outdoor Pipes
Drain your garden hoses and coil them neatly. If you have a hose storage pot or rack, use that. Or, simply store it in your garage in a spot you’ll remember come springtime. Be sure you’ve killed the water supply with the outdoor water shutoff valve. It won’t surprise you to learn that these pipes are the first to freeze during a cold snap. Since you won’t be using outdoor water for your garden or plants in the winter, it’s best to avoid the problem and just turn off the water completely.
Insulate Your Interior Pipes
Are your HVAC pipes insulated? Call an HVAC professional to help you inspect your system. Pipes that run along or close to your home’s exterior walls are highly susceptible for freezing, and should be insulated first. Cylindrical foam pool floats (such as noodles) can do the job in a pinch, but it’s best to consult your local HVAC technician to ensure that the job is properly and safely completed.
Clean Your Air Vents And Ducts
First, use a damp rag or cloth with water or nontoxic cleaner on your air vents. (These are the points in your home where cool or warm air enters.) Over time, dust, pet hair, and dander can collect in the vents. In addition to irritating allergies, this can slow or reduce air flow — which makes your furnace run inefficiently.
Have you ever cleaned your HVAC ductwork? Although it doesn’t need to be done often, it should be maintained with regularity. Hire a professional to clear your ducts of foreign particles, and you’ll be amazed at the improvement of air quality. It can even make your home smell fresher and cleaner.
Clean Your Furnace & Prepare It For Winter
Do you use a furnace to heat your home? If so, you’ll want to hire a professional to clean it and get it into fighting shape before your first use. Over the summer months, dust and debris will collect inside, which can cause issues with its use. Be sure that the filter is new and fresh, as well. It’s also invaluable to do a “test run” of your HVAC system before winter arrives. Set the thermostat to heat and turn it on. Observe the air quality and temperature, and listen for odd noises. If anything is amiss, this is your chance to address it before the cold weather hits.
HVAC preventative maintenance and general HVAC maintenance are best left to the professionals, but it’s up to you to take the necessary steps to keep your home heating and cooling systems in good shape. Don’t wait until winter to take these important steps.
Contact Blanton’s Air at (910) 249-4898 for all your Fayetteville or Raleigh, NC HVAC and plumbing needs.