How to avoid HVAC problems in the winter

Winter is coming. Learn why HVAC maintenance is important during the winter and how you can avoid any costly problems moving forward.

The heating and cooling effectiveness of your HVAC system are important during all seasons. But winter is one of the worst times to have HVAC system failures. Believe us!

During the summer, a faulty HVAC system can cause great discomfort in the sweltering heat. However, you can’t take the edge off a freezing winters day with fans and icy water.

Snowfall and cold winds threaten the longevity of your system, so you must invest in HVAC winter maintenance before the first snow hits. To help avoid any unwanted HVAC problems in the winter, here are some proactive tips.

Look after your filters

As a part of your regular HVAC winter maintenance regime, it’s essential to get into the habit of cleaning and changing the air filters on your HVAC system regularly.

Clogged and dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, any air bypassing the filter may carry dirt and other particles directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity.

Replacing or even cleaning a dirty, clogged filter can lower the HVAC system’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%. Quite effective for a simple job.

It’s typically recommended that you should change or clean your filters once a month, but this depends on the specific system, how much you use it and the environment it is situated in.

In a work environment, this recommended time scale will be considerably longer than a home with pets, for example. Dirt and hair from your pets will clog up the filters a lot quicker than humans sitting at their desks all day. Be sure to replace or clean your filter every month during the months of heavy use, for optimal efficiency and safety.

Clear dirt and debris from the outdoor unit (if applicable)

Similarly, clearing dirt and debris away from the outdoor (condenser) unit is crucial for optimum efficiency. The debris that comes with colder seasons can be a major concern for buildings that use outside condensers. The most common offenders are falling autumn leaves, making outdoor upkeep an essential part of the preparations for winter.

Take it from us, there is nothing worse than attempting to clear a big pile of frozen leaves off an outdoor condenser unit. To prevent this from happening, simply take 30 seconds every day to check on the unit each morning. It may also be wise to trim back any branches and foliage that is hanging over your unit for further protection.

Ensure that your condensate drains are clean

Your air conditioner heat pump requires regular maintenance, and its condensate drains can easily become blocked if you don’t look after them. Clogs in the condensate drain are often caused by algae or mould formation, which can trigger an overflow and substantial water damage before the problem is noticed.

Well-maintained condensate drains are critical to reducing humidity throughout an air-conditioned environment and need to be maintained every year as a minimum.

This particular HVAC winter maintenance task may require specialist assistance. So, please get in touch if you have any questions!

Reprogram the thermostat

If you have a programable thermostat in your house or office, it may be time to reset it and set it for winter. The right heating controls will let you keep your environment at a comfortable temperature without wasting energy.

Thermostats prevent rooms from getting warmer than necessary. They turn the heating system on until the room reaches the temperature you have set and then off until the temperature drops. Ideally, your rooms should be set to the lowest comfortable temperature, typically between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius.

Room thermostats need a free flow of air to detect an accurate temperature. They must not be blocked by furniture, curtains or placed near heat sources.

In the winter, you won’t need to turn the thermostat up when it’s colder outside. The environment will heat up to the set temperature regardless. It may take a little longer than it usually does, so it might be wise to program it to turn on a bit earlier in the morning.

Programmable thermostats are a fantastic way to save money on your energy bills and lower your carbon footprint.

Ideally, you would want the building to drop in temperature whilst nobody is there, but not so much that it requires a backup heat source to satisfy. Programmable thermostats combine time and temperature control and allow for different temperatures to be set throughout the day.

Most modern-day systems can be conveniently controlled via a mobile phone application for even easier temperature control in or outside of the building.

Another thing you can do to avoid HVAC problems in the winter is to test if your system is working during autumn. A few quick tests to understand if your system can rise to the set temperature will help determine if you need any further assistance from expert engineers or not.

Other HVAC winter maintenance tips

  • Partner with a service provider who understands energy efficiency.
  • Inspect your doors and windows for any noticeable air gaps that could cause heat and energy loss. It’s easier to repair these now before it gets too cold.
  • If applicable, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans (counter-clockwise) to move warmer air down from the ceiling.
  • Examine your HVAC system to see if it is still functioning efficiently. A lot of systems need to be replaced without the owner even knowing. While this may be a large initial cost, it will save you money over time and make your environment more comfortable and much safer.

Professional HVAC winter maintenance

Although there are some valuable things you can do yourself to bolster system efficiency, there is other work you should leave to the professionals. First of all, if you’ve had your current system for a while and think it’s not running at full capacity despite your regular HVAC winter maintenance efforts, you may have to choose between getting your HVAC system repaired or replaced.

There are a few signs you can look out for to help guide your HVAC repair vs replacement decision. Consider how long you’ve been using the system. If it’s ten years or older and consistently doesn’t respond well to small repairs or maintenance, replacement may be the best option.

Additionally, if you notice huge energy bills, no matter what you do or how economical you are with your system, you should replace your current unit immediately.

Many owners deceive themselves into thinking that having an engineer out to their home regularly instead of replacing the system with a new, modern model is a smart way to save money. Unfortunately, owners typically end up spending a lot more in the long run when putting off the necessary installation of a new HVAC system. Don’t forget, you’re not only spending money on regular repairs, but every energy bill you get is bigger because your system is no longer effective!

HVAC offers several advantages, ranging from increased energy efficiency and higher indoor air quality to reduced humidity and comfort control. It has even been shown to promote healthier, more productive, and comfortable conditions to work in. When your HVAC system runs smoothly, your business can too.

If you’re unsure about your current HVAC system or have any questions about how to avoid HVAC problems in the winter, please contact us.

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