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What You Should Know About Your HVAC Unit Before a Cold Spell

I don’t know about you, but right before the cold weather sets in for the year, I always run into someone that asks me: “Are you ready for that cold spell?”

I’ve always loved this phrase. It feels like neighbors looking out for each other or warning one another of the weather to come. But what does being ready for a cold spell actually mean? Let’s break it down.

We live in Oklahoma, so this phrase can be said as many times as there are days in the month. Our area can go from warm, to below freezing, and back to jacket weather in a matter of days. This is nothing new for us, but it seems that people are always surprised when emergencies plague them during this time. And what is an emergency, after all? It’s a lesson that you do not want to repeat. Learn from the mistakes of others so that you can have a winter season uninterrupted by a catastrophic unit failure that upsets your routine.

How to Prepare for a Cold Spell

Check those filters!
Check each and every return. If your filter looks dingy, go ahead and replace it. Until you get in the regular habit of changing out your filters, you need to do this process when you think about it. Until it becomes a habit, this mental cue usually happens right before the cold weather settles in. If you notice that one filter is dirty, go ahead and replace them all. You will save a little money by buying a larger pack of filters and if you can swing it, go ahead and buy enough for your next round of replacements. Set a reminder in your phone for the next time they need replacing, and you will have them in the garage or cupboard ready to go.
Turn on your system before the cold front actually moves in.
This is important because you want to know if your heater is working before you have to rely on it. There is nothing worse than waking up the morning after that cold air hits and being greeted by an unresponsive HVAC unit. The air is cold, the system doesn’t call for heat, all while you are shivering and fumbling with a blank thermostat display–that’s no way to discover an issue that you could easily spot now, before it gets too cold! Turn your system to heat, let it run for a little while, and see what there is to see. Does the air flow through? Is that air warm? Does it feel like it’s blowing as well as previous seasons? Grab a notebook and jot down what you notice because you, the homeowner, are the best expert in that unit’s history. You know when something seems off, and we are here for you when it does. Feel free to make as many notes as you can before calling our office to schedule your seasonal maintenance contract. Getting on a regular schedule and developing a relationship with our team of technicians will give you the tools you need to succeed this winter.
Check the thermostat display.
One of the most common issues we see when people call in frantically about their system is their inability to read the display. They are understandably confused when we ask them “What does the thermostat say when you look at it?” and all they can answer with is “Nothing.” It’s heartbreaking to hear someone say this because we know one of the issues is likely the batteries in the display box itself. This can be frustrating because homeowners may not remember where batteries are kept in the home, or they may be out of batteries completely. The homeowner then relies on us to come out for a service call to replace them. We love doing this for people! However, when the service calls are backed up, the roads are icy, and delays abound…it’s difficult to get these visits prioritized in a way that doesn’t make the homeowner uncomfortable for too long. This is especially crucial when you are dealing with children and the elderly. These groups of people have a harder time regulating their body temperature and are more susceptible to falling ill, so when you can get the display batteries replaced before the winter season, you will have removed one possible fail-point for the entire winter! Being prepared is an incredible feeling. (Pro tip: If you do replace the batteries, put another pack of them on your grocery list right away so that you can replace the ones you just installed.)
You can do your own visual inspection of the circuit breaker box and any electrical outlets to check for wear and tear on your electrical wiring. Do not attempt to replace these yourself, simply make a note of what you see and let us know. This will help your technician be as prepared as possible when they arrive. If you communicate what you already see, or send us pictures of what you believe is an issue, they can pack just what you need onto the truck…or even order a part before heading your way.

Give us a call when you are ready for a visit and we’ll work as a team to keep your home running smoothly this season!


Picture of Abby Dowd

Abby Dowd

Business Developer | Dowd Heat & Air