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Preparing Your HVAC System for the Fall Season

Preparing Your HVAC System for the Fall Season - Action Air

Can you believe the first day of fall is just around the corner? The autumnal equinox (September 22) marks the official beginning of autumn. Before you know it, winter will be here.

With the kids back in school and the weather cooling down, let’s take a moment to plan out our fall home maintenance tasks. It’s a good idea to start thinking about fall HVAC maintenance tasks now so you can spread them out over a couple of weekends rather than trying to cram it all into one day.

Keep your heating and cooling system healthy and happy by remembering these important fall home maintenance tasks.

  1. Get a Better Filter and Purchase Back-Ups

Before you replace the filter, make sure you buy high-efficiency pleated filters with a minimum MERV rating of 7. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filtration, but don’t go too high as this may impede airflow.

Check your owner’s manual to see what they recommend. Usually MERV ratings higher than 12 require a professional modification to accommodate the thicker filter. Once you find the perfect filter, purchase a few at a time so you never run out of replacements. You don’t want to have an excuse for using a dirty, clogged air filter.

  1. Check and Change Air Filters

Changing your air filter is probably the most important HVAC maintenance task you can do as a homeowner. Clean air filters not only improve indoor air quality, they also increase efficiency and performance, extending lifespans and reducing repairs.

Hopefully, you’ve been checking your air filter every 30 days and replacing it no less than once every 90 days. Set a calendar reminder to inspect your air filter every 30 days. Simply hold it up to the light and see if light can easily pass through. If it is blocking light, it’s also blocking air, which is not only bad for your HVAC health and efficiency, but your indoor air quality as well.

Keep in mind that the frequency of your air filter changes will depend on the cleanliness of your home, the number of your household (including pets), and how often you run your HVAC system. Set calendar reminders and write the date of replacement on the filter itself so you know exactly how long it’s been since your last replacement.

  1. Replace the Humidifier Filter and Turn On the Water 

When the weather cools down, it’s important to replace the humidifier filter (aka the water panel or evaporator pad), set the relative humidity to somewhere between 35 and 45 percent, and turn the water and humidifier back on. Don’t forget to set the bypass damper to “open” (parallel) if you have one.

If you neglect to clean or change the humidifier filter, it can cause your humidifier to leak and cause damage to your HVAC system and floors.

  1. Clean and Unblock Vents and Registers

Go around your home and make sure your vents and registers are clean and unobstructed. Blocking or closing off your vents will restrict airflow and impede the proper functioning of your HVAC system.

In addition to making sure your registers have the proper space for airflow, it’s also a good idea to wipe them down to clean off any dust and debris. This helps keep dirt and debris from entering your lungs and HVAC system.

  1. Clear the Outdoor Unit of Leaves and Debris

Every couple of months, be sure to check the condition of your outdoor HVAC unit. It contains your compressor and condenser coils. The more clogged it gets, the worse it performs.

  • Head outside and clear away debris from the top and sides of the unit with gloved hands.
  • You can also use your garden hose to give it a nice rinse — just make sure the unit is turned off at the source first.
  • Make sure nothing is stacked on top of the unit as this will decrease the airflow necessary for proper performance.
  • Leave a minimum 2-foot clearance around the entire unit. If needed, cut back plants and shrubs. Remember not to plant anything too close to the unit — plants will grow and encroach on the unit.
  • Consider xeriscaping (dry landscaping) around your outdoor unit to prevent grass clippings, pollen, and other plant debris from entering the unit.
  • If your outdoor unit isn’t completely level and raised to at least 1 inch above the base, contact a professional HVAC contractor.

By keeping your outdoor unit clean and clear, you will enjoy a more efficient and longer-lasting HVAC system. For a full HVAC cleaning, contact a professional technician, which brings us to our next point.

  1. Furnace Tune-Up

As the seasons change and the weather grows a little cooler, it’s time to start thinking about your heating system. Schedule your professional heating tune-up in the fall before you start depending on it. Not only will prices be cheaper, technicians will also be more available.

With a professional heating tune-up, your technician will clean off any dust or dirt that has built up while the heater sat unused during the summer, as well as tightening loose bolts and fittings that might cause individual components to rattle around in their housings. All of that helps reduce strain on the unit, improving efficiency so your monthly heating bill doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

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For help getting your HVAC system ready for the change in seasons, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Action Air.