How to Winterize Your HVAC System

Winter is just around the corner, and the Chicago area often gets exceptionally chilly. If you’re not prepared for cold weather, you could have to deal with an uncomfortable home, issues with your HVAC system, or high utility bills. Here are some steps you can take to winterize your HVAC system.

Have Your Equipment Checked by a Professional 

Image via Flickr by Klieg

It would be best to have your heater checked by a professional before it gets cold enough outside for you to need it. That way, you and your family members won’t feel uncomfortable if the HVAC technician has to shut down your system during the inspection. 

You can also avoid a breakdown during cold weather by catching hidden issues before they become more complex and costly to repair. For example, your system could have a malfunctioning thermostat, a refrigerant leak, a leak in your ductwork, or another issue. Making repairs as soon as possible can help you keep your home comfortable and save energy. In addition, maximizing your heating system’s efficiency will help you lower your utility bills. It can also extend your HVAC system’s life by reducing wear.

Before the expert arrives, test your heater. Check for abnormal noises or unusual odors, and let your HVAC technician know if you notice anything. For example, you may notice a burning smell from dust in your heating system, but it should disappear within a few hours. It’s also a good idea to check the outdoor part of your air conditioner for any damage. If you see debris like pine needles, pine cones, sticks, or leaves, remove it. Then, cover the unit with a tarp to protect it from ice, snow, and other objects during winter.

Change Your Air Filters Regularly

To keep your indoor air quality high during winter and the rest of the year, change your HVAC system’s air filter every three months. It can help keep your home from becoming dusty and reduce levels of pet dander, mold, mildew, and other common pollutants. People usually spend more time indoors during winter, and this simple step can help reduce bad smells along with asthma and allergy symptoms. It also saves energy by keeping your air filter from becoming clogged and forcing your heater to use more power.

Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

Suppose your heating system starts to malfunction or there’s a gas leak from one of the pipes connected to it. In that case, the leak could generate carbon monoxide, also called CO. Carbon monoxide can accumulate inside homes with poor ventilation, especially when people use generators, gas appliances, wood stoves, portable propane heaters, and similar items. This gas is odorless and can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakness, and loss of consciousness. Enough exposure can lead to death. A carbon monoxide detector can warn you if there’s a leak before you or your family members start feeling sick.

To test your carbon monoxide detector, press the test button. You should hear a very loud beep. Change the battery if you don’t hear anything or it’s not very loud. Keeping this inexpensive, convenient device working can help you stay safe in winter and improve your peace of mind.  

Install a Smart or Programmable Thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat is easy and inexpensive. It can help you save energy during winter, and it will eventually pay for itself through bills. You can program it to turn down your HVAC system when you usually leave for work and go to bed. You can also set it to raise the temperature in your house again about half an hour before you wake up or come home. You can conserve energy without adjusting your thermostat manually, and you won’t have to sacrifice your comfort to save.

With some programmable thermostats, you can program a separate schedule for weekends and weekdays. Others let you select different settings for vacations and every day of the week. You can also choose a smart thermostat. These devices can communicate wirelessly with cameras and motion sensors to learn your family’s routine over time and make changes automatically.

You can also control a smart thermostat through your computer or smartphone. Many devices can remind you when to change your air filter or perform other maintenance. Some can monitor your energy use and tell you if power consumption increases suddenly. That way, you can get a professional to care for any problems causing the increased power use.  

Smart thermostats often look advanced and high-tech, and many let you choose the display color or even set a background image. However, before you choose a smart or programmable thermostat, make sure it’s compatible with the type of heater and air conditioner in your home and where you want to install it.

Get a Humidifier

Cold windows, doors, and other surfaces cause condensation, taking moisture from the air in your home. Heaters can make the air drier as well. Dry winter air can cause dry eyes, chapped lips, sore throats, and nosebleeds. It raises static electricity levels, damaging your electronic devices more likely, and it can increase snoring and interruptions in your sleep. It can also help you save energy by making the air feel warmer. A portable humidifier is an inexpensive way to return moisture to the air in your home.

Check for Leaks in the Insulation

Insulation is essential for keeping your home comfortable during cold weather. Pests and wear can eventually lead to leaks, and the insulation available today is much better than it was decades ago. If you have an older home, adding additional insulation or replacing your existing insulation could help you save energy ad increase the value of your home.

Contact Dahme Mechanical Industries Today!

Dahme Mechanical Industries, Inc. has more than 50 years of experience, and we can help you maintain and prepare your HVAC system for winter. We serve Arlington Heights and the surrounding areas including Palatine, Elmhurst, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, and more. Our experienced staff members can maintain, repair, or upgrade your heater or air conditioner. We can also help you with all your plumbing needs. Contact us online or give us a call at (847) 396-9836.