While many people know Wm. T. Spaeder for its commercial and industrial work, we also have an active Residential Service Department cognizant of home owner needs. We put together a quick list of tips that you can do over the winter months to help cut down on expenses and ensure that you have a healthy HVAC system.
1. Change Your Filter!
Changing your furnace air filter has many benefits. A fresh furnace filter traps dust and allergens that make breathing difficult. It also does not work as hard to heat your house, meaning you’ll have a lower heating bill. There are no exact rules on when to change your filter. This depends on the filter’s thickness, material, allergen sensitivity, and if you have pets. That said, most people will need to change their filter every 60-90 days. It helps to write the install date on the new filter every time you replace it. This allows you to keep track of how often it needs to be changed.
2. Clean/Vacuum blower compartment.
Make sure the blower in your furnace is clean and clear of debris. A clean blower is a happy blower and will prevent dust and allergens from circulating in your home as well as keep your furnace running efficiently.
3. Reverse your ceiling fans.
Turning your ceiling fans on low in a counter-clockwise direction will force the warm air downward and even the temperature out in rooms. The switch to change the direction of the fan blades is usually on the side of the fan body. Spreading the heat evenly like this will reduce the time your furnace is running.
4. Make sure vents, registers, and return ducts are clear.
If you’ve moved furniture lately, bought that fancy new rug, or your toddler’s toy collection is growing too fast, make sure nothing is blocking any ducts. If the vents are blocked, it will cause unnecessary strain on your furnace, reduce air/heat flow in your home, and may lead to premature failure of the furnace.
5. Lower thermostat
This may seem obvious, but lowering the thermostat will save money and extend the life of your furnace — and it will give you a reason to wear that sweater grandma knitted for you. Remember not to set it lower than 55 degrees during the winter. If the temperature is below that, there is a higher chance of water pipes freezing and bursting in your home. We also advise getting a programmable thermostat, this will help you even more by automatically regulating your home’s temperature.
6. Invest in a humidifier.
These can be standalone or integrated into your furnace. They will add a bit of humidity to the air which will make it feel warmer than dry air. This means the thermostat can have a lower temperature setting without making the house feel cold. (Don’t go below 55 degrees.) The recommended range for humidity in the colder months is between 40% and 50%. If there is condensation on your windows, the humidity is too high.
7. Check your attic for insulation.
Often, insulation in a house is incomplete. Make sure there is plenty of insulation in the attic as that area is commonly left uninsulated. Where the insulation should be depends on which type of attic you have. If your attic has vents to the outside, only insulate the attic floor. Insulating the rafters will trap moisture and create a mold problem. If your attic is not ventilated, usually in attics that are intended to be or are finished as a living space, insulation can be put between the rafters without causing issues. We urge you to do your own research or to call an expert in insulation
8. Monitor your exhaust vent.
Make sure your exhaust vent is not clogged with leaves, snow, ice, or other debris. This vent is usually located outside either along the side of the house or out of the roof. Make sure it is clear, so your house doesn’t fill with noxious fumes and carbon monoxide. Having a clear exhaust also means the furnace isn’t working as hard which will increase efficiency. As a side note: Consider purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm for your home. They are inexpensive and will alert you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home from a variety of sources.
9. Watch your drain line.
If you have a high-efficiency furnace, the exhaust will be cool enough to make condensation. Make sure the condensate drain line is clear of any obstructions. To keep your furnace running efficiently, it needs to be able to drain well. One way to check for a faulty line is to look for puddles around the furnace itself. There are a variety of causes for water leaks in furnaces. Let our experts take a look to quickly diagnose and fix any issue you have.
10. Check for drafts.
Doors and windows can be drafty. Use the dollar bill test to see if they are sealing correctly. (You can use a piece of printer paper if you’re worried about ripping an actual dollar.) Shut the door or window on the dollar and if you can pull the bill out easily, it might not be sealing properly. Another test is a candle test. Hold a lit candle (a small tea light works best) near the seals and if the flame flickers, air is flowing through that spot. If the leak is bad enough, consider either repairing or replacing the weather sealant in the trouble spots or investing in new, high efficiency windows and doors.
11. Maintenance checkups
We advise that you have your HVAC systems checked at least twice per year. Once in the fall, and once in the spring. If you have any questions about how to care for your HVAC systems or you wish to schedule an appointment for our experts to inspect your systems, please give us a call at 814.456.7014, any day, any time. You can also contact us via our online form.