Is Your Home Ready For Winter? Follow This Checklist To Be Sure

Fall is here! It's time to turn your air conditioner off and switch your thermostat over to heating mode. But before making that switch, you'll want to ensure your heating system is ready for the cold months ahead. A well-maintained heating system is essential to keeping your home warm while minimizing your utility bills and avoiding costly repairs.

If you're in the habit of ignoring your home's HVAC and hoping for the best, this article is for you. Follow these four simple steps to get your home ready for the worst that winter can throw at it.

1. Change Your Filter

Your filter is a simple, affordable item that can have an outsized impact on the performance and reliability of your system. You should check your filter at least once per month and change it whenever it appears too dirty. Old clogged filters can reduce your system's performance, increase your heating bills, and damage expensive components. Frequent changes are a cheap and easy way to avoid these issues.

2. Clean In and Around Your Furnace Cabinet

Is your furnace located in an out-of-the-way utility closet or a corner of your basement? It's easy to let debris and junk build up in these areas, but clutter can make it challenging to maintain or repair your HVAC equipment. If your system does suffer a failure this winter, you want to make it as easy as possible for a technician to evaluate and repair the issue quickly.

Cleaning your furnace cabinet won't make it run better, but it will help you deal with future problems. Opening the cabinet up and vacuuming inside is also a good idea since dust in the cabinet can impact items such as the flame sensor.

3. Test Your Thermostat

Your furnace won't turn on if your thermostat isn't working correctly. To test your thermostat, switch to heating mode and set the temperature a few degrees above your home's interior temperature. The furnace should kick on relatively quickly, and it should remain on for at least a few minutes or until the temperature at the thermostat reaches your setpoint.

If your furnace doesn't turn on, there may be a problem with the thermostat or a more severe issue with your heating system.

4. Look Into the Fire

If you're comfortable opening your furnace cabinet, you can inspect the flames with the door off and the burner cover removed. Your furnace should ignite if your thermostat is in heating mode and you've turned up its setpoint. Keep a safe distance and look for blue flames with a relatively even color and strong appearance. Dim, flickering, or orange flames may all indicate a problem.

Contact a technician if your burner appears to be producing inconsistent or weak flames. These problems may indicate that your furnace is in urgent need of maintenance.

Reach out to an HVAC contractor to learn more about heating maintenance.