Fall HVAC Maintenance Tips to Improve Heating System Efficiency

When fall arrives in the Indianapolis area, cooler temperatures are close to follow and you don’t need your air conditioning unit much anymore. Soon enough the winter cold weather will be upon us, so now is the time get your heating systems ready for the winter season!

Ensure your family has plenty of heat over the cooler months without high energy bills when you use Williams Comfort Air’s fall HVAC maintenance tips. Our HVAC professionals share what to do now as we say goodbye to summer air conditioning and prepare to turn up the thermostat for furnace heating. A good fall HVAC maintenance routine includes action items such as:

  • Schedule professional fall HVAC maintenance tune-up for your heating system.
  • Replace Air Filters
  • Adjust thermostat settings for heating temperature efficiency.
  • Clean the outdoor condenser unit of your heat pump heating and cooling system.
  • Ensure proper airflow by moving heavy furniture blocking registers and vents.
  • Store combustible products away from the HVAC system equipment.

The HVAC maintenance tips below are outlined by an HVAC professional to help Hoosier homeowners stay comfortable throughout the winter and save money when using heating systems – no matter what! If you have questions about your heating system maintenance needs or are ready to schedule fall preventative maintenance, give us a call today or contact us online!

Professional Preventative Maintenance Tune-up Service for Your HVAC System

In any article about HVAC system maintenance and care, you’ll always see a preventative maintenance tune-up near the top of the list. This service is so beneficial for your heating and air conditioning system in the long run – that’s why we just have to say it again! If you are unable to complete each and every one of our HVAC maintenance tips before winter, make sure to prioritize HVAC maintenance service performed by an HVAC professional this fall. Just like your air conditioning system, heating equipment needs one HVAC maintenance service visit per year (a heat pump system receives two – one for the heating portion of the HVAC system and another for the air conditioning side of things, as a heat pump also functions as an air conditioner in the summer).

  • What does HVAC maintenance do for your heating system? Ultimately this service verifies the furnace, heat pump, or boiler is in good shape and running with optimal energy efficiency whenever you need heat. As a result, you’ll save money in the long run with lower energy bills and fewer system repairs to pay for.

  • What do HVAC professionals do to the HVAC system in the fall? Your fall service visit for HVAC maintenance includes a number of steps, depending on the type of system used to heat your home. Steps can include lubricating blower motor bearings, tightening electrical connections, cleaning the coils in the outdoor unit, inspecting the heat exchanger, and more.

DIY HVAC Maintenance Tips for Better Heating

In addition to HVAC maintenance service completed by HVAC professionals, there are some preventative maintenance tasks you need to complete for your heating and air conditioning systems throughout the year. In the fall, follow these maintenance tips to prep your new system or older unit ahead of the cold months.

  • Replace air filters. To maintain proper air flow through the home and forced air HVAC unit, you must replace the air filter periodically throughout the year. Go ahead and check the existing air filter in the fall to determine if it is ready for replacement. Look at the surface of the air filter media – is it completely covered in grey dust and debris? If so, throw the current air filter away and replace it with a new one now. If you can’t tell, hold the filter up to a light – if you see light shining through, the air filter has some life left. Being diligent about changing air filters will help you cut energy costs when using heating equipment or air conditioners.

  • Clean the outdoor unit. If you have a heat pump system for air conditioning and heating, you need to care for the outdoor condenser unit throughout the year. Keep it clean and free of debris to establish proper airflow for efficient heat exchange between refrigerant and outdoor air. If the condenser coil within is caked with dust and debris, it needs to be cleaned.

  • Open vents. Blocking registers to conserve energy and save on utility costs is an old wives’ tale – it doesn’t help, it hurts. Before the winter season, check all vents in each room of the home. Make sure louvered vent covers are set open and that there is no heavy furniture, rugs, or other items blocking return or supply vents. Closed vents stop warm air from circulating properly throughout the house, causing discomfort for residents and a buildup of pressure in the system ducts which could cause overheating, unit damage, and duct air leaks.

  • Seal drafts. Drafts around windows and doors can cause a home to lose a lot of energy, which in turn overworks the HVAC system to make up for the loss. Help your home retain as much warm air as possible over the cooler months by sealing drafts around windows and their frames, doors and door jambs, between the frames of windows or doors and the surrounding wall material, gaps for pipes or wires that penetrate exterior walls, around attic hatches, and other problematic spots throughout the house.

Check Thermostat Settings and Adjust Temperature Setpoints

When cooler temperatures set in, you’re no longer using your air conditioner. The majority of Central Indiana households have different temperature preferences between the summer and winter, so you’ll need to make adjustments to the programmed settings on thermostats prior to turning on the furnace for the first time.

  • For maximum efficiency without sparing comfort, set the temperature at 68 degrees when your family is at home and active.

  • When your household is out for the day or even overnight, you can turn down the temperature to generate more energy savings – a setback of 7 to 10 degrees for at least 8 hours each day can reduce energy consumption by your HVAC system as much as 10%.

  • Whether thermostats are solely battery-powered or are also hardwired to the home’s electrical system, batteries should be replaced once per year so go ahead and do this in the fall. Even if your stat runs off electricity, you want to have good batteries installed in case the circuit breaker trips or you experience another home electrical problem.

Address HVAC Safety Concerns in the Fall

If you use a furnace or boiler that runs using natural gas, propane, or heating oil, there are additional precautions you need to take to ensure your family’s safety while keeping everyone comfortable during seasonal cold weather.

  • Never store combustible products or items that could catch fire near the heating unit. These items should be secured in another area of the house, not up against a heater. Leave at least 30 inches of clearance on all sides of the unit.

  • Test carbon monoxide alarms each month by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds. If the tone is weak or is disrupted as it plays, replace the entire unit. Carbon monoxide alarms need to be replaced every five to seven years – check the back of the device for an expiration or manufacturing date to know when a new one is needed.

  • Always replace batteries in carbon monoxide alarms every six months. Even if the current batteries are not dead, go ahead and install new ones to ensure your alarms have power when needed – you can keep the partially used batteries for other household needs.

  • Know that it is normal to notice a burning smell inside your home the first time you turn on your heater for the season. This odor is dust and debris burning off the burners and other parts of the system. The smell should go away within an hour or so – you can run the blower motor fan, turn on bathroom exhaust fans, or crack windows to eliminate the smell faster. If it continues or the burning smell seems more like a metallic or electrical burning, this is cause for concern – turn off the heater and call for professional service before using the unit again.

  • Beware of rotten egg odors when running gas appliances like furnaces and boilers. If you notice this odor in your home, evacuate your household immediately. When leaving the house, don’t do anything that could create a spark and ignite free gas, such as using electronics or battery-powered devices, smoking, or starting a vehicle in an attached garage.

Call 911 once you are safely out and away from the home to report the suspected gas leak. Do not reenter the home unit a first responder from the fire department or gas company has cleared the home. If the heating system was determined to be the source of the gas leak, do not use it until it has been repaired and cleared as safe for use by a licensed HVAC technician. If you have a damaged gas water heater or gas lines causing a leak, call your trusted plumbing company for assistance.

Get Help Completing HVAC Maintenance Tasks This Fall

This list may seem long, but we promise that the steps detailed above are sure to help you create a more comfortable living space over the cold months, at a more affordable cost. For more HVAC maintenance tips to use this fall or to schedule your professional fall HVAC maintenance service appointment, contact Williams Comfort Air today!

Related Reading