When you think of winter, does it summon visions of curling up in front of a fireplace with a cup of cocoa and a movie or of shoveling snow in the bitter wind? People tend to either really hate or really love winter, but the colder months will come each year wherever you fall on that spectrum.
If you’re a homeowner who lives in a place that experiences especially frigid temperatures, you probably have a top-notch heating system in your home. Maybe you have a separate system for cold weather and hot weather, or maybe your heating system and air conditioner are all together, in an HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) System. If the latter describes your heating system, you’re a smart (or lucky) homeowner. An HVAC system is a great help for regulating temperatures year-round and can be energy efficient if maintained properly. That being said, the cold weather can have a very negative impact on your HVAC system if you’re not careful. Let’s take a look at four ways your HVAC may be at risk during the winter and how you can protect it from the chill.
1. You might overwork your HVAC unit.
The easiest way for you to inadvertently harm your HVAC system is by overusing it. Never underestimate the impact of cold weather on your home’s HVAC system. Just by trying to keep the cold air at bay, you may find yourself cranking up the thermostat to higher temperatures and fan levels than you need to. Your poor system will be working hard to keep the warm air filling your home, and if you have leaks in your doors and windows, that’s simply an impossible task. Therefore it’s a good idea to work on insulation before turning up the thermostat a few more degrees. You don’t want to wear out your HVAC after just a few winter seasons, do you?
2. Your HVAC unit might be blocked by snow and ice.
There are different types of these appliances, but if your HVAC is an outdoor unit, you may issue debris (in the form of snow and ice) blocking the unit. An HVAC appliance works by pulling in outdoor air and warming it so that it can warm your home from floor to ceiling. If it has to work extra hard to get the air in, you’ll be wearing out your unit more quickly. Plus, imagine the damage that all that moisture will do to your ductwork and your indoor air quality. Clearing debris regularly may not seem fun, but it’s important.
3. Dirty air filters are bad for the unit and your health.
Speaking of clearing debris, it’s also important to regularly clean out your dirty filters every six months or so. As you work your unit more, the air filters get used more, which means that they don’t do as good a job as they should when it comes to clearing keeping your home’s air clear of allergens and toxins. Since you know that you’ll be using the HVAC unit all day on cold days, make sure that you call in a technician to clean or change out your air filters when this time of year is over.
4. Look out for leaks—they can be dangerous.
As you use the unit more during the winter months, the wear and tear may lead to dangerous leaks. While dirty air filters are dangerous for people with allergies, a carbon monoxide leak can be fatal. A good rule of thumb for HVAC maintenance is to call in a technician before and after the winter months, maybe on a nice fall day, to give everything a good once over. Knowing your unit is running at peak efficiency will keep your energy bills low, but more importantly, it will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’re keeping your family safe.