man holding toolbox in front of home HVAC

Performing Pre-Winter Checks on Your HVAC System

As temperatures begin to fall, your home’s HVAC system will begin responding in kind by working that much harder to maintain your desired indoor temperature. It will be at this point where you may discover that your heating system may be giving off a foul odor, or that your home isn’t heating up as fast or efficiently as it once was. 

These and other issues can be indicative of problems within your HVAC system, which can be identified through performing several checklist items before winter arrives in earnest, along with others that will help you protect your home from water and ice damage.

Check Your Furnace Filter

If your heating system kicks on and you notice a burning smell, it could be a sign that your furnace filter needs to be replaced. This filter is located in the main HVAC system body, which is usually housed in the garage. If you are not sure what type of filter you need, the filter type is usually listed on the specifications tag on the main assembly.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacement and use the correct type of filter when replacing the existing one to avoid damage and/or potentially voiding your warranty.

Clean Your Gutter System Out

Either using a ladder or getting on your roof, clear your home’s gutter system of leaves and debris before the snow flies. This will ensure that no ice dams build up, which can potentially damage or even shatter your gutters, potentially inviting icicles that can cause injury or death to grow. Though specialized tools and gutter systems are made to make this job easier, doing one last scoop with gloved hands right after the final leaves fall is also just as effective.

Dust Your Vent Covers

One commonly neglected facet of the average home’s HVAC system are the vent covers and floor registers. Using a duster, go over the slats of each vent cover to ensure that each one is clear of dust and debris. This is also a good time to ensure that each one is fully operational and pushing out air as needed.

Clean and Cover Your Fan Assembly

Your home’s HVAC assembly is typically located outside on the side of your house and is not used in the cold season. With the fan turned off, clear the fan assembly of any leaves, sticks, and other debris, then cover with a piece of wood or fabric.

When to Call a Professional

While performing your checks, if you happen to notice any of the following items amiss:

  • HVAC system malfunctioning
  • One room not heating/cooling as well as the others
  • Burning smell persists after changing furnace filter
  • Broken/misplaced parts

Any malfunctions that occur within the system and/or actions that may result in the loss of your warranty are an indication that performing those repairs may be hazardous, and should only be performed by a qualified professional. If this is the case, stop what you are doing and contact the manufacturer for further assistance.

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