It won’t be long until winter is upon us, which means you should take measures now to ensure your heating service in NJ is operating properly. We recommend hiring a qualified HVAC technician to help with all the taks that go along with this; however, here are some things you can do yourself to make sure your system is in good condition before cold weather arrives.
Outdoor Unit Inspection
Heat pumps and some wood burning units are partially located outdoors As such, you should make a visual inspection of your outdoor unit to check for damage. Some things to look for include:
- Rust, dings, or other damage to the unit itself
- Damaged or exposed wiring
- Signs of tampering (for example, a missing cover)
You should also check for weeds, vines or other plant matter growing next to your unit. These can create problems for your system, so it’s important you cut them down. Items stored within a three-foot radius of your HVAC system can prevent your unit from receiving good airflow, which is why you should store them away.
If you have a traditional gas or electric forced air furnace, your unit will be located indoors. On the front of this unit is a blower door, which should be securely in place before operating your system. Check to see that it is attached properly, and tighten or adjust screws as needed. When performing an indoor inspection, you should also look for:
- Standing water near your furnace, particularly if it is located in the basement
- Exposed wires
- Unusual odors
Having a working smoke detector and fire extinguisher near your furnace is also a good idea. When inspecting your furnace, check to see that these items are in place and functioning properly. Replace batteries in your smoke detector and recharge your fire extinguisher as needed.
Change Filters and Clean Vents
One of the most important things you can do to ensure your system works properly is to change your filters on a regular basis. Most filters should be changed at least monthly, which is why you may want to purchase enough replacements to get you through the winter. That way, if you become snowed in, you’ll still be able to change your filters.
After removing your filter, clean your air return using the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Remove all vent covers from throughout your home and vacuum inside them as well. Wash vent covers by spraying them with a garden hose, and then allow them to dry thoroughly before replacing them. Keeping these areas clean will allow your furnace to operate more efficiently, and will also reduce the amount of dust you have inside your home.
Make sure your vents are completely unobstructed by removing furniture or other objects from directly in front of or over top of them. The area around your indoor furnace or air handling unit should also be free from obstructions, so now is the time to remove any clutter that might have been placed there during the summer months.
Inspecting the Exhaust Flue
Your risk of fire greatly increases if your exhaust flue becomes obstructed, which is why you should check it often. To do this, remove the flue cap, which is located near your unit, and look through it to the outside. You should be able to observe daylight, and should not notice any debris or bird’s nests in the center of it. Depending upon the configuration of your exhaust pipe, you may need to actually climb onto your roof and peer into it from above instead.
These are just a few things you can do yourself to prepare your HVAC system for winter. There are actually several other tasks that should be performed by a professional to ensure maximum performance. Once you have completed all these other steps on your own, please contact us for an appointment so that we can take care of the rest.