With winter on the way, there’s never been a better time to ensure your home’s heating system is operating at its best. Having a functional furnace not only keeps your home comfortable through the winter months but ensures a cozy and welcoming environment for your family and all your holiday guests.
Homeowners tend to overlook the significance of furnace service and maintenance. That is, until something goes wrong. It shouldn’t take a major breakdown for you to pay attention to your heating system. Proper routine maintenance can not only prevent major repairs, but it will improve your furnace’s efficiency and reduce your energy bills.
Follow these pro tips from Service Champions to unleash the power of your heater.
- Regular maintenance is essential for an efficient and long-lasting heating system.
- DIY maintenance like fixing leaks and drafts can make a big difference in your furnace operation.
- Small upgrades, such as a programmable thermostat, can dramatically improve your system’s efficiency.
Schedule Routine Maintenance
Like any major mechanical system, your furnace or heat pump requires regular maintenance to operate at its best. Scheduling an annual maintenance check and furnace service with a professional HVAC company like Service Champions gives you an opportunity to have your system inspected, cleaned, and tuned up to address any budding problems in advance.
Keeping up with your system’s maintenance offers many benefits, including:
- Improved efficiencyto reduce energy consumption and save on utility bills
- Enhance performancefor comfortable, consistent heat in your home
- Better longevityand fewer repairs
- Peace of mindin knowing that your system and its components are operating safely
Change Air Filters
Air filters are a big part of your system’s overall performance. These filters pull dirt and debris out of the air and prevent them from getting into your system. But over time, air filters get clogged with the dirt and debris they collect, obstructing the airflow and making your heater work much harder to circulate heated air. This puts extra stress on the system and reduces its efficiency.
Ideally, your air filters should be changed every three months or so, depending on the type of filter and how much your system is used. Using a clean air filter is essential to improving air quality, promoting better health, and unleashing the true power of your heater.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can be helpful for conserving energy and reducing your utility bills without compromising home comfort. You can set and automate your heating preferences according to your daily routine. For example, you can:
- Set lower temperatures at night to sleep better and save energy and money, then set it to increase the temperature for a warm morning
- Adjust the temperature to handle extreme temperature fluctuations that occur in between seasons
- Create temperature zones to heat different areas of your home based on room usage, occupancy, and individual preferences
Ensure Proper Insulation
If your home’s insulation isn’t up to par, you’re only paying for heat to leak out and taxing your system. Proper insulation retains heat in your home and reduces the workload on your heating system.
Here are some areas that may have insulation issues:
- Windows and doors: Seal any drafts around your windows and doors with weatherstripping and caulking.
- Walls: Check for holes, gaps, or insulation issues within the walls.
- Floors: If you have a basement, check that it’s adequately insulated to prevent cold air from rising into your living areas.
- Attics: Check the insulation to keep warm air from escaping through your roof.
Use Ceiling Fans Strategically
Ceilings fans are usually used in the summer months, but they have some benefits in the winter. Most ceiling fans have a reverse switch that changes the rotation of the blades, and if you set it to clockwise, the fan will push warm air from the ceiling into the room.
This can be helpful if you have high ceilings, as hot air tends to rise. With the ceiling fan on and running clockwise, you can distribute the warm air back into the living area instead of wasting it.
Use Supplemental Heat as Needed
Relying solely on central heating is not always the best option for every home. This is especially true if you tend to gather in only certain rooms. Supplemental heating sources can keep your home at a more comfortable and consistent temperature without putting added strain on your system.
Consider these options to unleash the power of your heater:
- Space Heaters: Portable space heaters can be used to warm specific rooms instead of putting the stress of whole-home heating on your central heat system.
- Fireplaces: If you have a fireplace, using it on colder days can help with localized heating – especially in large spaces.
- Radiant Floor Heating: Radiant floor heating systems are a luxurious option for your home and can be cozy in winter. Consider installing radiant floor heating in specific rooms or through the entire house.
- Ductless Mini-Split Systems: Ductless mini-split systems offer zoned heating, allowing you to customize the temperature in different areas of your home.
Fix Drafts and Leaks
Drafts and air leaks are common sources of heat loss in homes. If you notice that your system is working much harder than it should, or your energy bills have increased without an obvious cause, it could be because of heat loss.
Here’s how you can check for drafts and leaks in your home:
- Inspect doors and windows for gaps and seal them with weatherstripping or caulking.
- If you have a forced-air heating system, inspect the ductwork for leaks and seal them.
- If you have a fireplace, consider installing a chimney balloon to prevent warm air from escaping when the fireplace is not in use.
- Adding insulating curtains can keep warm air inside and cold air outside without a major renovation.
- Use draft stoppers at the bottom of the doors to prevent drafts from coming into your home.
- Consider consulting with an HVAC technician to identify areas of heat loss and correct them.
Clean Your Air Ducts
For homes with forced-air heating systems, clean air ducts are an essential part of peak performance. Dust, debris, and allergens can accumulate in the ductwork, hindering airflow and reducing indoor air quality.
Professional air duct cleaning can:
- Improve airflow by allowing heated air to circulate freely and consistently
- Enhance air quality by removing dust and allergens from the ducts.
- Reduce strain on the heating system that can diminish efficiency and increase energy consumption.
It’s best to have your air ducts cleaned professionally every few years. If you live in a dusty area, have pets, or struggle with seasonal allergies, you may want to consider more frequent cleanings.
Open Air Registers
A furnace needs to be able to freely circulate air around your home. If you have furniture or décor in front of your air registers, the air flow is blocked, and dust and dirt can get trapped in the cover.
Check your air registers to make sure they’re open and free of debris. If you have decorative registers, they can significantly impede 50% of the air flow. You may want to consider upgrading to more functional air registers.
Clear Space Around Your Outdoor Unit
Furnaces often have heat pumps as part of an HVAC system. It’s important to have proper airflow around these units to ensure that your system can operate efficiently, which means cut back on the decorative landscaping.
If you have bushes, shrubs, tall grass, or other vegetation that grows on or around your outdoor unit, make sure to trim it back or remove it. Your unit’s manual should have a minimum clearance recommendation, but the general rule is at least two feet of clearance from buildings, landscaping, or other obstructions.
Signs that You Need Professional Service
Regular maintenance is a key part of unleashing the power of your home’s heater. But in the meantime, keep an eye out for these troubling signs that something may be amiss with your heating system:
Your gas furnace’s flames should be even in size and color. If they’re not, you could have a cracked heat exchanger or dirty burners that should be addressed.
Your furnace’s flames should burn cleanly and without any residue. If you notice soot deposits near your vents, it’s important to bring in a professional HVAC technician to take a look.
Short Heating Cycles
If your furnace is powering on and off every few minutes to heat your home, this is called “short cycling.” Often, short cycling is caused by a faulty thermostat, but it could have other causes. Make sure to call a pro like Service Champions for furnace service to correct this problem as soon as possible.
Furnace Service, Maintenance, and Repair from Service Champions
Performing some basic DIY maintenance for your heating system is a good habit for all homeowners to get into, but it can’t solve every problem. In addition to doing your part at home, you should bring in a furnace professional like Service Champions to inspect, diagnose, and fix problems with your furnace – both large and small.
Whether you need furnace service, furnace maintenance, or furnace repairs, contact us today to schedule your appointment.