Here in the St. Louis area, we’re no strangers to freezing weather. Last year’s winter offered us some of the snowiest weather in recent memory, but it’s worth noting that those cold temperatures are nothing compared to our local records. Back in 1884, we hit a record low of 26 degrees below zero, and there were plenty of years around that time when the Mississippi River would freeze solid!
It may not be likely that we’ll see weather events that extreme this winter, but it’s still a good idea to get your HVAC system prepared for anything the cold months can throw at you.
Fortunately, a few simple tasks and calibrations can help get your furnace back in shape, keeping your home comfortable and energy-efficient even in the cold. Here’s what you should know to prepare.
Clean or Replace Your Old Filters
One of the easiest HVAC maintenance tasks to take care of this time of year is cleaning or replacing your old filters.
Ideally, this is a task you’re already keeping up with, as clean AC and furnace filters can make a world of difference in terms of your unit’s long-term efficiency. Depending on the ages of those in your household, any respiratory issues, and the presence of pets, you’ll want to change your filters every 30 to 90 days.
Failing to clean or replace your filters can make your system struggle to keep up with your household heating and cooling needs. This, of course, is the last thing you want when you’re depending on warmth in the dead of winter! Make sure the replacement is a high-quality option that comes with solid ratings and a good MERV score.
Clean Your HVAC Unit
We recommend cleaning your HVAC system at least twice a year: once before high heating use in the winter, and once before high cooling use in the summer.
To take care of this task, head outside to the outdoor part of your HVAC system. Check for and clear away any debris around the condenser coil, fins, and exhaust vents. Now is also a good time to trim back any branches or plants that have grown too close during the summer months.
Back inside, clear away any dust buildup or debris on your indoor unit as well. It’s also a good idea to clean your vents and registers throughout your home, and to double-check that you haven’t moved any furniture into a position where it can block airflow. Do the same for your unit’s exhaust flue, and don’t forget to also check for any obstructions or missing fasteners.
You’ll also want to make sure you aren’t storing any flammable items near your furnace. Don’t lean any object, flammable or otherwise, against this system.
Check Your Humidifier
It’s not uncommon in St. Louis area homes to find a whole-home humidifier as part of the property’s HVAC unit. This device needs a quick inspection just as much as your heating system does.
Locate your system’s water reservoir, which you should remove and clean. This can help remove any mineral deposits that have begun to build up with frequent use.
We recommend letting a cup of vinegar soak into the reservoir for around 20 minutes, after which you can scrub and rinse it with water. Don’t forget to refill the tank!
Reset Your Thermostat
Chances are, your preferences for your home’s winter temperatures won’t be the same as the ones you used over the summer and fall. Take some time to reprogram your thermostat as needed.
Try to strike a balance between comfort and energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends a temperature of around 68 degrees in the winter months. However, you should set it lower at nighttime or when you aren’t at home.
Do a Test Run
Even if you haven’t yet started heating your home on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to do a test run of your HVAC system in advance. It’s always better to be aware of any issues before you’re depending on your unit on a cold winter night! When you turn your unit on, be sure to check for any irregular noises or strange smells, either of which you should bring up with a professional technician.
Call for Expert HVAC System Maintenance
Tackling all of the tasks above is a good place to start, but it may not be enough to keep your HVAC up and running throughout the coldest months of the year. Without expert help, you might fail to notice small issues that could snowball out of control if left unaddressed.
That’s where a professional HVAC company comes in. Expert maintenance is essential to help you extend the life of your system, save energy, improve your indoor air quality, and keep your space comfortably warm in the months to come.
A seasoned HVAC technician will check the wiring, filters, switches, motors, and belts, as well as the refrigerant levels of your system. What’s more, in the case that you do need HVAC repair, a technician will be able to do a quick fix on the spot or help you schedule a repair to get your system back into tip-top shape.
Get Ready for St. Louis’s Winter Weather
St. Louis’s extreme weather is nothing to laugh at, and it always pays to be prepared for the worst this winter has to offer. With a few simple steps, you can work to get your HVAC system ready for this season’s cold in no time.
As you work to prepare your home, don’t forget that our team is here to help! With a long history of helping satisfied customers throughout St. Louis and the surrounding areas, we’re happy to get your heating system ready, ensuring that you can enjoy a comfortable and cozy home even in winter’s chill. Leave the heavy lifting to us by scheduling service now!