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HVAC Essentials: Preparing for Winter

Cooler months are right around the corner, and it’s about time to fire up the furnace for the cool season. Previously, we had discussed tips on how to stay warm during the winter on a budget, but this time, we’re going to talk about how you can prep your HVAC system for the winter, and preferably in the months leading up to winter instead of during.

Check/Clean Your Air Filter Before Winter and Change Regularly

For those living in a temperate climate that involves all 4 seasons, the middling nature of both autumn and spring are typically times where we can shut off our HVAC systems and let an open window keep fresh air circulating throughout the home.

Depending on which setting you set your thermostat to, your ductwork and the filters they pump heat through may be more overtaxed than others. Whether you have standard or permanent filters, these should be replaced or cleaned every month during the winter to keep indoor air quality and furnace efficiency up.

Winterize Your AC Condenser

Out of sight, out of mind does not apply to a properly maintained HVAC system, and your AC condenser is no exception. This unit is typically outside and close to the home, making it susceptible to falling icicles and water damage.

Save yourself a costly repair in the future and use either a board or a large plastic lid secured with bungee cords to cover the fan assembly. It’s actually a really good idea to do this in early autumn or whenever you feel that you won’t be using the AC for the rest of the year.

Note: Do not wrap your AC condenser in plastic wrap, as it can trap moisture and cause damage.

Check Your Furnace Before Lighting the Pilot Light

By now, it’s probably been months since you last turned on the furnace in your HVAC system. Before lighting the pilot, inspect the furnace for broken/exposed wires, leaks, and whether your igniter switch is functioning properly or not. Older systems may require you to relight the pilot before ignition. If you come across anything that you are not comfortable fixing, stop what you are doing and call a professional.

There are a few other considerations for different HVAC systems, such as:

  • After turning off the furnace, clean and lubricate the blower motor if your model requires it.
  • If you have an oil-powered furnace, replace the oil filter.

And lastly, before turning on your furnace…

Inspect the Chimney and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

A roaring fire in the dead of winter may be a comfy scene, but during the months leading up to winter, it may have become a haven of nesting animals and/or other obstructive debris. Make sure your chimney is clear and that the flue is functional to avoid a houseful of smoke

Speaking of which, carbon monoxide, which typically hitchhikes in the chemical cocktail that comprises smoke, is odorless and absolutely deadly by itself. Before turning on your furnace this or any other year, make sure that your home is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors and that they’re fully functional

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