Our weather in North Carolina is all over the place right now, but "winter is coming." That is for sure. In addition to cooler temperatures, threats of snow and ice, and a fear that your furnace may suddenly stop working, now is a great time to talk about a little preventative home maintenance. While you may only hear the sound of money leaving your pocket, ignoring your HVAC system can cost thousands and leave you uncomfortable this winter. With that in mind, here are a few key HVAC prevention tips to help you stay warm and dry this winter.
1. Service Your Furnace
During the winter, especially during the evening hours when the temperatures usually bottom out, our furnaces are working the hardest. It's also when they tend to fail. No one wants to wake up in the middle of the night cold. Unfortunately, regardless of the system you have, the condensation traps have a hard time draining condensation as quickly as it’s being produced. This design flaw causes the system to shut down.
Like any good homeowner, if this happens, call CHOICE Heating & Air Conditioning, but don't be surprised if the furnace starts back-up and is running again before the technician arrives. Just know that if your furnace shuts down once, it's likely to happen again. So, don't cancel your appointment. Use this time to have your furnace tuned and cleaned so that it won't let you down the remainder of the season. HVAC systems that are regularly maintained will last longer, so don't ignore this situation!
2. Ensure Proper Drainage
This time of year is tricky for our gutters. Leaves are still falling (at least for a little longer), so make sure your gutters are clear of any leaves or pine needles so that they winter rain and snow can properly drain. While this isn't an HVAC issue, water damming can cause flooding and become a costly issue if it's ignored. If you want to further prevent any issues, seal any basement windows and cover window wells to avoid moisture and/or water damage.
3. Seal Windows and Doors
In addition to your basement doors and window wells, also check and seal any other drafty windows and doors around your home to prevent warm air from escaping. Repair caulk and/or seal windows with plastic so your furnace doesn't have to work so hard. While you should feel a noticeable difference, you'll appreciate the 10-20% energy savings the next time you pay your bill.
4. Prevent Pipes from Bursting
When the temperatures dip below freezing, your pipes become susceptible to bursting if you don't pay them proper attention. To prevent your pipes from bursting, be sure to shut off your outdoor spigots and unhook hoses if the temperature goes below 32 F. If possible, you should also close the valve and drain the spigots. Inside, you'll also want to check under sinks, especially north-facing walls (or walls that face the outdoors) to make sure that they are properly insulated to prevent freezing.
If you plan to be away from your home during these winter months, clearly mark your main water valve, so that your house sitter or neighbor can get to it in the event of a freeze emergency while you're away. If you plan to be away for an extended amount of time, you should winterize your home.
5. Prepare for Extra Guests
If you plan to entertain over the holidays, make sure your bathrooms are ready for heavier usage. For starters, make sure that there is a plunger in each bathroom and plenty of toilet paper. Remove wipes or paper towels (or anything else that could accidentally be flushed) to prevent unnecessary backups. If you want to go the extra mile, a preventative sewer line cleaning will ensure that your party will be a hit.
If you want to stay comfortable this winter, be sure to properly maintain your HVAC system. And if it gets really cold, check out these 10 Ways to Prepare for Unusually Cold Temperatures in Wake Forest, NC.