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What to do when your HVAC unit loses steam in the winter

We have loads on our to-do list once the cold weather begins to set in for the season, but one thing that should not be overlooked is checking up on your HVAC unit. While you are pulling out the tree and firing up the holiday music, be sure to print out this list for a winter maintenance check that you can perform yourself. While we offer maintenance and service options at competitive prices, there are several things you can do to winterize your system on your own. By doing these simple tasks yourself, you can save yourself some time and money, and even prepare for your technician to arrive once that quarterly service contract appointment rolls around.

Check to ensure that your thermostat display is bright and displaying accurate information. If the display is dim, replace the batteries.
Check the airflow. You can do this by switching the system to heat and testing the air that exits the returns. Ensure that warm air is blowing out even if it smells like burning dust that first time, right now you’re just checking to make sure the air is warm. Your technician can let you know if the dust issue lingers longer than it should.
Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries if needed.
Switch your heating system off, leave it off for one minute or so, then switch it back to the on position. This will allow a soft reset of your unit, much like turning your computer off at the end of the night. Most of us don’t do it, but we probably should once in a while!
Check your attic. Sometimes, when we go into the attic to start pulling holiday decorations down, the power button to the heater or furnace can be switched off by accident. This is an easy fix, and a good place to start troubleshooting while you are waiting on the technician to arrive at your home. If this is the issue, you can switch it on and make your technician aware of what troubleshooting you performed before their arrival. They will do a full check and let you know if there are any other issues.
Check your circuit breaker box. In the same spirit of troubleshooting issues on your own, you may want to take a look at your circuit breaker box and make sure that nothing has been tripped.
Even if you do locate a breaker that has been tripped, if you’re unfamiliar with toggling these things on your own, your best bet is to wait for the technician to arrive. Sometimes, the issue is as simple as flipping the breaker switch. Oftentimes, though, a fuse may be completely faulty or there may be some other electrical system failure to blame and those issues are best left to the professionals.
Check your filters. We know this is a common theme, but it bears repeating! You would be surprised how many homeowners fail to change their filters in a timely manner. Home maintenance items like this that are simply out of sight, out of mind, are often missed. Take a stroll throughout your home and check each and every air return. Open the metal casing and pull the filter out of each one. If one filter needs replacing, it is best to replace them all at the same time. This helps the entire system have a fresh start, and may save you some money by purchasing the filters in bulk rather than one at a time. This is a commonly overlooked item in most homes, so don’t feel bad if your filters look atrocious. Just get them replaced now and set a reminder in your phone to check them again in the recommended amount of time for your unit. If you are unsure how often they should be replaced, ask your technician when they arrive!
Similarly to checking your filters, walk throughout your home and check any floor vents. We have seen countless floor vents clogged with children’s toys, a sock or cleaning rag, or simply gunk. You do not have to remove the grate from the top of the floor vent, you can simply shine a flashlight or the light from your phone down into the vent and take a quick peek. If you see something down there, let your technician know so they can remove it and check to make sure everything is retrieved.
We are very proud of you for taking the maintenance of your home seriously, and tasking yourself with a bit of troubleshooting to assist in the care of your space. Having a home is a huge responsibility, and it’s one that we are happy to help you care for! When you put away the lawn tools for the fall and winter, and start to bring your plants indoors, think also of your home’s heating and air unit. This system is like the lungs of your home, and you want to help keep it healthy so that it can breathe well…which in turn helps your family breathe easier, too! Give us a call to get your winter maintenance scheduled and we can help you refine your checklist so that it is specific to your needs and your unit. Have a happy, safe, and cozy winter season!

Picture of Abby Dowd

Abby Dowd

Business Developer | Dowd Heat & Air