Cold temperatures are nearly upon us, and that means it’s almost time to crank up the heat and get your home ready for winter.
Is your furnace up to the task? Make sure you’ve hired a professional for maintenance – in particular, to change out your filter – as needed. Checking filters once a month is ideal, and swapping the old for new ones before the summer and winter season, is recommended. At the bare minimum, filters should be changed annually.
Here are three good reasons why:
1) You extend the life of your heating and cooling system. Over time, dirt builds up in filters, especially when they are used heavily in the winter and summer months. What does that mean? The potential for clogs, making airflow more difficult, straining the system. This can lead to overheating that can cause serious damage, even to the point of needing to replace the entire unit.
2) Lower electric bills. Along with working harder comes the increased use of electricity. Did you know that running your heating system already accounts for nearly half of your utility bills? Save yourself money by investing in replacement filters.
3) Improved air quality. Swapping out your filters as needed helps to keep clean air circulating in your home. Poor air quality is known to cause sneezing, respiratory issues, eye irritation, dizziness, and more. It can be especially troublesome for those with allergies and asthma. Be proactive if you have pets at home as they can cause extra dirt and dander. By employing routine maintenance, you can reduce dust, dirt, mold spores, soot, bacteria, and allergen build-up.
Why does my furnace cycle on and off so often?
This is called a short-cycling. Signs of short-cycling include your AC or furnace repeatedly turning on and shutting down or running more often than usual. The AC or furnace might turn on and off when you have not changed your home’s temperature.
Short-cycling can happen several times an hour, and in severe cases, multiple times a minute. Essentially, the system is receiving a signal to maintain a particular temperature and it is working to meet that temperature, but does not, instead of turning off and on and continuing the cycle. Short-cycling is harmful because it will significantly increase your electric bills, can use excess oil or gas, and it strains your system. The repeated cycling of the motor and thermostat can cause parts to malfunction or fail.
To get to the root cause of why your system is short-cycling, your best route is to call in a Home Air Plus or certified HVAC technician. If you want to give it a go yourself, there are a few things to try.
First, check your air filter. A clogged or dirty filter can cause short-cycling by reducing airflow. Next, examine your thermostat. Older pieces can be faulty and it may be time for an upgrade. If your thermostat is digital, ensure your settings are correct. Also, check your connections.
Your vent can cause short-cycling, too. Make sure venting is properly installed, clean, and clear. If none of these checks solve your issue, it’s time to call in a professional.
Winterizing Your Pipes
Get ahead of problems like malfunctioning or bursting pipes before freezing temperatures hit. A modest investment now can save major headaches, and a blow to your bank account, too. Here’s a checklist to get you started:
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas like crawl spaces, garages, and attics. Run the heating cable along pipes and cover with pipe insulation.
- Turn off outdoor spouts. Open faucets to let excess water runoff, then turn off at the shutoff valve.
Open cabinet doors. If you’re facing particularly frigid temps, opening kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to flow near piping can be a good idea.
- Run water. Also as a precaution, a small flow of water running through piping can help prevent freezing and cracking. Remember that a slightly higher water bill is better than paying to replace piping.
- Check your exterior. Examine the perimeter of your property for visible cracks so you can seal them, eliminating the possibility of cold air creeping in. You can use spray foam or caulking.
- Use Frost-free sill cocks. When properly installed, these help water to drain properly from the pipe every time you turn the knob off at the faucet. They are an inexpensive solution to prevent possible disasters. Frozen pipes can expand and explode, bringing hundreds of gallons of water into your home and extensive resulting damages.
- Cover hose bibs. By using an insulated cover, heat loss from pipes is slowed. Bonus, they’re extremely inexpensive.