HVAC Checklist for Winter Trips 10 Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

When winter hits in Minnesota, it’s easy to understand why some of us want a temporary escape to somewhere warm. Others might head up north for long ice fishing trips or to enjoy the winter wonderland. Whatever the reason to leave the house empty, you want to make sure it’s prepared for the weather. If you’re planning an extended vacation this season, follow this HVAC checklist for winter trips to help keep your home safe while you’re away.

  1. Turn the thermostat down but not off. There’s no need to keep an empty home comfortably warm, but you want to help protect against frozen pipes. It’s recommended to set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees (closer to 60 during severe cold) and to open closet and cabinet doors so the warm air can reach the plumbing. For extended trips away from home, shut off the main water valve, drain remaining water by opening faucets, and leave them open until you return.
  2. Change or clean the air filter. Ensure your system has a fresh filter to prevent efficiency and performance issues while you’re away. And remember to change (or clean if reusable) your air filter monthly!
  3. Seal the home to trap the heat in and the cold out. The lower thermostat setting makes sealing warm air inside the home even more important. Check around windows, doors, and exterior walls and fix any potential leaks with caulk. And before you leave, lock all windows and doors to ensure a tight seal.
  4. Clean the home (especially dusting). Sealing the home naturally decreases ventilation. Clean the house to reduce the presence of dust and other airborne pollutants that impact indoor air quality, using extra care while vacuuming carpets and dusting hard surfaces.
  5. Clear/clean the area around the furnace/HVAC unit. Generally, there should be at least 3 feet of distance around your furnace or indoor air handling unit. Move any potential obstructions and clean the area, and ensure flammable items are kept far away from the unit.
  6. Ensure vents are clean and clear of obstructions. Similarly, make sure that the vents that feed the warm air to your home are dusted, cleaned, and free of obstructions – a closed or blocked vent will alter the system’s even distribution of air and decrease efficiency.
  7. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Make sure they are clean and working properly with fresh batteries, and remember they should be tested weekly and cleaned at least monthly. You should refer to the manufacturer’s manual regarding maintenance and replacement schedules, but CO detectors should typically be replaced every five years and smoke detectors every 10.
  8. Unplug unnecessary appliances for extra safety and savings. Large appliances like TVs and sound systems, as well as smaller ones like coffee pots and toasters, will draw some electricity even when not in use. Unplug any appliances that don’t need power while you’re away to help reduce your utility bill.
  9. Make plans for monitoring. Consult your local HVAC company about any remote monitoring options available for your system. Before you leave home, notify close friends, family, and neighbors who can keep an eye out for any issues that you’ll be away. If you feel comfortable enough, consider giving a spare key to someone you trust so they can check on your home and provide updates.
  10. Schedule a professional inspection/maintenance service. The best way to ensure optimal safety, performance, and efficiency of your system is to schedule a professional inspection and maintenance service with an HVAC technician. Call the pros at WestAIR!

If you’re planning a fun, relaxing adventure away from home, the last thing you want to return to is a broken furnace, frozen pipes, or any other disaster around the house. Follow this HVAC checklist for winter trips to keep your home protected.

For all your residential heating and cooling needs, trust the experience and expertise of the professionals at WestAIR. Contact us to learn more.

This entry was posted in Furnace,Tips,Winter and tagged , , ,

Extend the Life of your HVAC Equipment

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Extend the Life of your Heating & Cooling Equipment

Having a working furnace and air conditioner is crucial during the winter and steamy summer days. Don’t run it and forget about it, as wear and tear is inevitable. You can save on costly replacements or repairs through proper maintenance. Extend the life of your HVAC equipment by following these steps.

Heating & Cooling Tips

1. Follow manufacturer instructions.

2. Have your systems checked every year by a qualified service technician. It’s best to schedule maintenance in the spring and fall. Technicians are busy in the hot and cold months, and you don’t want to wait until there’s something wrong.

3. Check your filters. Replace your filters every 30 to 60 days. If you have a permanent filter, clean it with mild detergent every 30 to 60 days. This is the most important step to increase the life of your equipment. Dirty filters make heating and cooling units work harder, which will shorten the life with use.

4. Keep your doors and windows closed. Your air conditioner and heater will work harder when there is more air to circulate. Make each space with ventilation smaller by closing your doors. This is the also the case for houses with boilers or window air conditioners. Rather than labor to regulate air temperature in the whole house, your a/c only needs to cool the individual room. With a boiler system, it’s efficient to close off rooms without a radiator.

5. Caulk and weather-strip air gaps on windows. This step is good for your wallet and your HVAC equipment. Old houses are especially drafty, so locate the air leaks by finding damaged glazing or old caulking. Another trick is to turn off all appliances and light an incense stick in each room. Turn on your exhaust vent if you have one. Then hold your incense stick close to windows, doors, and walls for a noticeable change in the smoke. If you have drafty doors, invest in some door draft blockers.

6. Use your thermostat. It’s a myth that you should keep your thermostat at a steady temperature. Most of the time, your furnace will be working harder to maintain the heat at a steady rate. Instead, program your thermostat for a comfortable temperature while you are home and ten degrees less while you are away. However, fidgeting with the thermostat will be less efficient, even if it seems harmless to put it up or down a degree or two. Keep it on a consistent schedule.

Energy Efficiency

Winter

1. Open window shades when windows are facing the sun. Let the sun warm your house naturally, putting less work on your furnace. The vitamin D is good for you this time of year!

2. Take advantage of using your oven. Slow cook your chicken and oven roast your veggies. The extra warmth will give your furnace a break. Your oven will be working two jobs at once without the added cost.

Summer

1. Close window shades facing the sun. Opposite of wintertime, you want to block the sun from adding extra heat to your house. Make sure to put your plants outside so they don’t suffer from the lack of sun!

2. Be smart with your other appliances. When you are doing laundry, hang up your clothes on a line to save energy or strain on your a/c. Why work an appliance that uses heat when it’s already hot outdoors? Washing clothing shouldn’t be an issue, though, if you stick to cold water. If it’s humid out, dry your clothes during the coolest part of the day: around dawn. Same goes for dishwashers.

3. Use your exhaust fans when cooking. Whether you plan on using the oven or stovetop for dinner, turn on the exhaust fan to let out the excess moisture and heat. Or maybe fix a cold sandwich or salad. In return, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard! Same goes for your bathroom, but not everyone likes cold showers!

Annual Service Maintenance

Spring is around the corner, so it’s time to schedule your maintenance visit with WestAir Heating & Cooling.
Our technician’s maintenance list will take care of most things you cannot do yourself to ensure your equipment is running smoothly for summer and winter:

Annual Service Maintenance list:

• Clean furnace and check operation/filter
• Clean air conditioner and check operation
• Clean outdoor condenser and check refrigerant level
• Clean air exchanger filters and core
• Check radiant in-floor pressures and go over system
• Check humidifier filter and drain line
• Check unit heater operation
• Clean fireplace and check operation

Contact us for more information on heating, cooling, or our service maintenance!

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Why You Should Change Your Furnace Filter Often

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Why You Should Change Your Furnace Filter

Changing your furnace filter seems to be an easily forgotten task. HVAC companies try their hardest to remind you to do these things, but do you know why you should change it more often than you think?

Maintenance

Getting an oil change for your car is as important as changing the furnace filter for your house. It simply extends the life of your equipment. A dirty filter means that less air is circulating, which then means that your furnace is working harder to keep your house warm. Over time, having a furnace go into overdrive for too long can overheat the system or break down the entire unit. This is not something you do want to deal with in subzero temperatures.

A little dirt can do a lot of damage. If your furnace filter is dirty, not only will it make your HVAC unit work harder, but it will also make your heating bills go up over time. All the extra effort that this heater is putting out digs a deeper hole into your wallet. While a new furnace filter might cost money, ignoring it will cost more in your gas bill, except you’re doing more damage than good by trying to be frugal.

Air Filter Quality

Skip the fancy furnace filters. A furnace filter is designed to protect your furnace, not improve indoor air quality. Some people swear by these special filters, but you’ll most likely have to run your furnace fan year-round to get the benefit of a high-efficiency filter. Extra work and extra care (replacing them often) will cost you more in the end.

There is a happy balance that you could achieve between cost and efficiency. For homeowners, we recommend purchasing a MERV 7 or 8 pleated filter, which traps 80 to 95 percent of air particles. If you are looking to get rid of pollutants and breathe cleaner air, consider getting an air cleaner instead.

When to call your HVAC technician

– Unit fails to turn back on
– Noisy or slow fan
– Bent fins
– Coils are extra dusty

Remember to change your furnace filter every month when fan is in use for heating and cooling seasons.
Got more furnace questions? Call us at (763) 498-8071.

This entry was posted in AC,Air Conditioning,Cooling,Energy Savings,Furnace,Heating,Indoor Air Quality,Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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