With the kids back in school and the first day of fall just weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your home for cooler weather. While a typical central Texas winter can hardly be described as “harsh”, there are still certain steps homeowners should take to ensure that a sudden temperature drop doesn’t leave you out in the cold. Here are a few tips from our HVAC specialists to keep you warm and cozy over the coming months.
Air Filter Check!
We recommend changing your air filters at least once a season (more often if your family includes furry, four-legged members), but it’s especially important after a long, hot Texas summer. Your air conditioner has been working overtime, and the filters are likely at their dirtiest. Switch them out for new ones to maintain your system’s efficiency and improve the air quality in your home immediately. To save time at the store and get a reminder when it’s time for a change, sign up for a filter replacement service, which delivers the correct size filters to your door every quarter.
No, we’re not referring to your fantasy football league — now is a good time to check for drafts around windows and doors. Cracks or gaps will let in cold outdoor air, making your system work harder to heat your home. Weather stripping will help if you find a door that’s not quite flush with its frame, and caulk or insulating foam will seal up any cracks around windows. This is also a good time to cover unused outlets with protectors; in addition to functioning as a safety device, they also prevent cold air from leaking in.
Take a quick trip up to your attic to make sure your insulation is sufficient. It should be spread evenly throughout and should rise well above the attic floor joists. If you can see drywall or floor joists, or if you experienced particularly cold or drafty rooms last winter, it’s time to add more. This might be a do-it-yourself project if your attic is safe enough to move around in and you’ve got the time and the drive for a challenge, but it can also be delegated to a qualified contractor.
Full System Check!
After you’ve finished up in the attic, head outside to look at your unit. Clean off any debris, fallen leaves, pollen, or grime that may have accumulated there. Once you’re back inside, switch on the heat for a quick test. Remember that you might encounter a burning smell at first, as any built up dust burns off. Listen to make sure the unit sounds normal (no excessive noise or indications that it is struggling to run), and that it is blowing out hot air.
All Systems Go!
Even if you don’t notice anything out of the ordinary, it’s still a good idea to invite your Austin HVAC specialist out for a preventive maintenance visit. Have a professional double check that everything is in safe working order, so that you can spend the fall season curled up with a good book and a pumpkin spice latte, secure in the knowledge that your heating system will be working at peak efficiency throughout the winter months.