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Fall is here and for residents of Frisco, TX that means it is time to start thinking about the condition of your furnace. This is a very busy time of year for a heating and AC repair company because most residents are figuring out whether or not their furnace is ready to tackle the cooler temperatures that are coming their way.
While winter is not as severe in Frisco, TX as it is in other areas of the United States, temperatures will drop enough that you will be glad to have a functioning furnace. Almost any heating and AC repair company will tell you that fall is a good time to do a dry run to make sure that your furnace is up to par before the actual cold snap hits.
In addition, fall is a great time for annual maintenance of your HVAC system. Maintenance is the number one way to make sure that you don’t end up calling a heating and AC repair company with an emergency situation on your hands. It also will save you a lot of money in the long run because you can catch small problems before they turn into large ones.
Whether this is your first fall in Frisco or not, you need to make sure that your furnace is ready for what is coming. The following is a quick to-do list that all furnace owners should follow to make sure that they are prepared for the winter weather. The same way you want to weatherproof your home and your yard for the cold snap, you want to make sure that your furnace is ready to go so that when the first cold night hits you aren’t stuck piling up the blankets.
Flip Your Thermostat On
Right now your thermostat is probably set for the AC, but you need to make sure that your furnace is in working order. You can do this easily by switching the AC off and kicking the furnace in. Simply switch your thermostat to heat and then turn up the temperature setting to be a few digits higher than the current temperature on the thermostat. Within a few minutes you should hear your furnace kick in.
If it doesn’t you have two choices. If you are comfortable with it, you can pop off the thermostat cover and check the wires to make sure that the connections are firm. However, if your thermostat is currently on and working fine with the AC then it is unlikely that this is the issue. When you open the back if you see the connections are snug then take a look at the power source to make sure that the HVAC system connection is turned on. Once again, if your AC has been on this is likely not the issue, but it never hurts to look.
At this point if you can’t visually see anything wrong then it is time to call in a heating and AC repair company. It is likely going to have something to do with the heat pump, blower, or fan. At this point you need a heating and AC repair company to find the source of the problem and then handle the repair.
Close Up the Condenser
You don’t want to cover up the condenser until you are sure that you are done with your AC for the year, which can be a bit in Frisco, TX as the temperatures hover back and forth between the 60s and the 70s throughout fall. Once it gets to that point however, you want to cover up the condenser to protect it from outdoor debris. As a side note, if your HVAC happens to use a heat pump instead of a condenser then skip this point because it runs all year and you don’t want to compromise its ability to function properly. Your heating and AC repair company can help you with this if need be.
Some people take a large trash can lid and then tie it down to the sides with large bungee cords to protect the top of the condenser. You could do the same type of thing with a large board or anything large enough to fit over the condenser. However, avoid using a plastic tarp or any similar covering because it will trap moisture inside which can cause rust in your condenser and is counterproductive. You don’t need to seal it off, you simply want to protect it from any falling limbs or winter hail and any local heating and AC repair company will recommend you do this.
Change Your Air Filters
How effective your furnace or AC can be is dependent on how often you change out your air filters. Filters can be placed behind the vent grill or within the HVAC system itself. If you have an annual or biannual maintenance appointment with a heating and AC repair company they likely take care of this, but if you don’t then you need to change out your filters on your own. In general, it is a wise idea to change your filters every three to four months, but how quickly they get dirty depends on how much dust your home is prone to accumulating that needs to be filtered out of the air. If you are unsure, ask your heating and AC company how often yours should be changed.
If you happen to have a humidifier in your HVAC system, this is a good time to also set your humidistat and change out your humidifier filter. This way you go into the winter months with a clean set of filters ready to tackle the shift in air. Once again, if you have a regular cleaning appointment with a heating and AC repair company they should handle this task for you.
Have Your Heat Exchanger Cleaned
This is a task that is best left to a professional heating and AC repair company because it is not something that the general homeowner knows how to do. Despite this fact, it is worth calling a heating and AC repair company to get on the books because it will help lengthen the lifespan of your HVAC system and increase its efficiency.
Ideally a heat exchanger should be vacuumed and brushed out on a yearly basis by a professional while not in use. Getting used to having your furnace serviced during the fall makes it easier to remember that your heat exchanger needs cleaned. Usually a trained heating and AC repair company technician will also check for cracks in the heat exchanger while they are cleaning it which is a safety check that protects your family. The presence of any new cracks that may have formed over the summer months of non-use could lead to carbon monoxide leaks. Having your heat exchanger checked before it is back in use by a heating and AC repair company could save your lives.
Check On the Igniter Switch
Modern HVAC systems have electronic ignitors, but older systems still rely on the old pilot light. Before you turn on your furnace you may need to make sure that your pilot light is lit. This is even more true if it has been months since you have used your furnace. If you have a modern HVAC system and the electronic igniter is not kicking in then you can press the reset button and try again. At this point head over to your circuit breaker and check to see if the beaker needs flipped. If you try that and it is still not working it is time to call in a heating and AC repair company to take a look. This is one reason it is a good idea to check early in the fall, so if you need help from a heating and AC repair company you can afford to wait a bit instead of being forced to pay emergency repair rates.
Special Considerations for an Oil-Powered Furnace
If you own an oil-powered furnace, then you will need to do a few extra things that other homeowners don’t have to worry about with their HVAC systems. Your heating and AC repair company can check for this too. This includes changing the oil filter and cleaning out the burner nozzle. These two things will help ensure that the furnace is able to run efficiently since oil is not a clean-burning fuel like natural gas. It is also a good idea to brush out the heat-exchanger to make sure that everything is clear and the gas can travel along the path evenly. If this sounds like an intimidating task, most heating and AC repair company technicians can handle dealing with oil-powered furnaces as well. You will want to ask when you call to ensure that they are aware you have an oil-powered system before they head out to save you both time and trouble.
Check the Blower Motor
Returning back to traditional HVAC systems, you need to get out your owner’s manual and see if your blower motor needs to be regularly lubricated. Some do and some don’t, so it is very important that you discern which group your HVAC system falls into before proceeding. If you discover that your blower motor does in fact need to be lubricated, then you need to turn off the power and then open the cover of the motor. Carefully clean out all of the caps that cover the bearings and then take off the caps to lubricate the bearings. It is important to clean the caps first because you do not want any dust or debris to fall onto the bearings. Once again, if you have an annual maintenance appointment with a heating and AC company they should take care of this for you.
Take a Look at Your Chimney
Even if you haven’t been using your chimney during the summer months an outside rodent may be. Believe it or not, many people find nests and small animals in their home following a long break from the furnace. If something is blocking the chimney then you will get smoke and carbon monoxide backfiring into your home instead of out of it. This can be very dangerous, so checking your chimney before turning on your furnace is always the best move. A lot of heating and AC repair company technicians can use scopes to check the entire length of the chimney.
The fall is a great time to remember to check, test, and replace carbon monoxide detectors as well. CO2 is known as the silent killer because you can’t smell or see it in your home. Therefore, there are no indications if you have a leak in your home until someone dies or starts to feel sick. Working carbon monoxide detectors are the only way to protect your family, so taking the time once or twice a year to check your detectors is worth it.
Schedule a Maintenance & Cleaning Visit
At this point, you may have noticed that we have mentioned an annual cleaning and maintenance visit. That is because it is the very best way to keep your HVAC system working properly. The fall is a great time to schedule your visit since most homes in the Frisco, TX area are transitioning between using their air conditioners and their furnace. If you schedule your visit during the summer you should have no problem getting a visit from a heating and AC repair company.
The even better news is if you schedule an annual cleaning visit you won’t have to worry about any of the tasks listed above because the AC and heating company will take care of them for you. Every single step mentioned in this guide can be performed by a trained technician so that the only thing you have to worry about in the winter is flipping the switch to turn on your furnace.
If you are ready to schedule your annual cleaning service give One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Fort Worth a call. We work with a wide range of customers and would be happy to schedule an annual cleaning visit to help keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape.