Can you believe it’s almost Halloween? This fall, make sure your home is prepared for the coming cold with these home maintenance tips.
Get started now so these essential indoor fall maintenance tasks don’t get lost in the holiday hullabaloo.
8 Essential Indoor Fall Maintenance Tasks
1. Replace your furnace filter
As a general rule, check you filter every 30 days and wait no longer than 90 days to change or clean it. Have extra filters on hand for when you need to change it next. We recommend writing the date of replacement on the filter itself so you know how long it’s been since the last replacement and setting monthly reminders so you don’t forget to check.
Learn how to choose the best HVAC filter.
2. Schedule a professional heating tune-up
To ensure your system is fully functioning and as efficient as possible, make sure you schedule heating maintenance from a qualified technician. Professional heating tune-ups should be scheduled every fall, while air conditioning maintenance should be done every spring.
Contact Sobieski Services today for your fall furnace pro-check! You can also sign up for the Home Care Club so you never forget to schedule this important home maintenance.
3. Use your programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats, when used properly, will help you save money and energy. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn how to use your thermostat properly.
In addition to regular programmable thermostats, there are also smart thermostats that “learn” from your habits and schedule for increased convenience and efficiency.
Learn more about programmable and smart thermostats.
4. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once a month
If you don’t have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, get one installed for every level of the home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 300 people die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning every year in the United States. Additionally, make sure you have smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area.
Use Dust-Off or some equivalent to clean out any dust build-up in your smoke and CO detectors. As a general rule, test your smoke and CO detectors every month by holding the test button and waiting for the alarm to sound. Typically, batteries should get replaced every 6–8 months and the device itself should be replaced every 10 years, or according to manufacturer instructions.
5. Clean and check your humidifiers regularly before and during the heating season
When scheduling your annual heating tune-up, ask the company if they will do a tune-up on your whole-home humidifier. Make sure to change your humidifier from the summer to the winter setting. Remember that your water filter will need to be changed regularly. Review the manufacturer’s instructions or ask your qualified technician for more information on maintaining your humidification system.
6. Check windows and doors for leaks
If you can see daylight coming from the edges of your doors or windows, you should definitely seal those up before winter. Even small cracks and gaps can lead to significant energy loss. We recommend inspecting your home for air leaks by taking a lit incense stick or thin piece of paper and holding it up to areas around the home where you suspect a leak. If the smoke or paper begins to move, this usually indicates an air leak that should be sealed.
Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal any cracks you find. If the gap is larger than 1/4”, use expandable foam spray instead of caulk.
You can also contact your trained and licensed professionals at Sobieski to inspect your home for proper insulation and ventilation levels. If you end up making significant air sealing and energy efficiency improvements, contact a trained HVAC professional to determine if your home has enough ventilation. Yes, it is possible to have a home that is too airtight.
7. Clean and clear the area around vents and registers
Go around your home and find all of your supply and return air vents. Check under rugs and behind furniture. You want to make sure all of your air vents and registers are clean, open, and unobstructed.
While you may think it’s a good idea to close or block certain vents to help redistribute airflow to other rooms and save energy, it’s actually an ineffective and potentially damaging idea. Your HVAC and duct system was designed for a specific amount of space and airflow. By blocking one or more vents, you are increasing air pressure within the ducts that could lead to air leaks and inefficiencies. It’s best to leave all of your supply and return vents open and unobstructed.
If you want to create HVAC “zones” in your home to individually control the temperature in different parts of the house, ask Sobieski Services about your options, including duct dampers and ductless mini-split units.
8. Check your chimney and have it cleaned
If you use your fireplace in the fall and winter months, get it ready by examining the flue and damper. Make sure it opens and closes smoothly and creates a firm seal. If you notice a lot of creosote and ash buildup, hire a professional chimney sweep.
Creosote buildup in your chimney can cause ventilation problems and even a fire hazard. When you call Sobieski Services for a heating tune-up, we inspect your flue and chimney for safe operation.
As a general rule, you want to hire a professional chimney cleaner every 3 years or so. Keep in mind that the more you use your fireplace, the more frequently you will need to schedule chimney cleanings.
This fall, make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to keep your home and heating system working safely and efficiently.
The fall season is the time of year to prepare your furnace for the heating months. By scheduling professional furnace maintenance sooner rather than later, your furnace will be prepared to heat your home efficiently and safely at the first sign of cool weather. You may also prevent heating problems from occurring when you need your furnace most.
The primary furnace sections and basic steps your HVAC technician performs to promote efficient and safe home heating include the following:
Combustion chamber: When the thermostat activates home heating, furnace burners fire up to warm the heat exchanger. Your technician cleans and tests gas and heating components and looks for signs of incomplete combustion, such as soot and unusual noises.
Blower chamber: After the burner has adequately heated up the heat exchanger, the blower motor turns on. Dirt and debris buildup on the motor and fins reduces efficiency and may cause the motor to fail. Your technician lubricates the motor and cleans the entire blower chamber.
Ductwork: As the blower powers on, cool air from the living spaces is pulled through return ducts and across the heat exchanger. The blower forces the heated airflow through supply ducts to your home. Ducts are visually inspected for leaks, which impact efficiency, comfort and safety.
Venting: The poisonous gases inside the heat exchanger are vented through the roof or sidewall. Your flue or sidewall vents are inspected for corrosion, wear, and function.
Furnace Safety Checks
Fall furnace maintenance spots system safety flaws caused by damaged or poorly operating components. By cleaning and maintaining combustion parts, such as the pilot and burner, your furnace won’t turn into a flame thrower. Additionally, your technician checks the heat exchanger for cracks and checks to see if you have operable carbon monoxide alarms installed in the correct areas.
At Sobieski Services, Inc., our goal is to help our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey learn more about energy and home comfort issues — especially HVAC and plumbing issues — so they can save money and live in healthier, more comfortable homes. Contact us today to schedule fall furnace maintenance.