Heating and Cooling System Prep for the Winter

Heating and cooling unit installed outside of a residential home

It’s already fall! This means right now is the best time to start thinking about winterizing your heating and cooling system — before the cold weather hits and your system stops working as well as it did in the summer. 

Overlooking regular maintenance will not only prevent you from using your heating and cooling as effectively and efficiently as possible, but it can also blow out your entire system. No homeowner wants that to happen.

Here are seven tips to help you prepare your heating and cooling system for peak performance before the winter arrives: 

Put your system on a maintenance schedule.

Every month, you should check and clean your system’s filters. While you’re in there, inspect your ductwork for leaks, holes, or other damage. Then, seal any gaps with mastic sealant or metal tape. 

Once every six months, it’s a good idea to check your belts, engine, and wiring. You may be able to replace a worn belt or oil up the engine on your own. If you suspect a problem with the wires, circuits, or ignition system, it’s probably best to call a professional. 

Even if your system is running like a top, go ahead and mark a time on your calendar to schedule an appointment with a professional heating and cooling contractor. You can save a lot of money just by having your system serviced and cleaned annually by a professional. 

While your contractor is on-site, take advantage of their expertise and ask questions such as:

  • Should I invest in a programmable thermostat? Will it help me save energy and money?
  • What’s the best auto setting for my thermostat?
  • Is my home properly insulated?

Clean the heating and cooling filter.

As fall approaches, it’s time to prepare your heating and cooling system for seasonal changes. One of the most important things you can do is clean the filter. A dirty filter can restrict airflow. In turn, your system will have to work a lot harder, leading to higher energy bills for you and premature wear and tear on your system. 

Here’s how to clean your filter:

  • Turn off your unit.
  • Remove the filter.
  • Rinse it off with water.
  • Let the filter fully dry.
  • Replace the filter.

Pretty simple! If you notice a tear or hole in your filter, dismiss the idea of washing it, and just buy a new one. 

Change your air filters regularly.

As the weather starts to cool down and you begin using your heat more, it’s important to change your air filters regularly. A dirty air filter can cause your system to work harder, which can lead to higher energy bills and even repairs. 

Here are five tips to help you keep your filters clean and your system running smoothly all season long:

  • Check your air filters, and change them if they look dirty.
  • If you have pets, consider investing in a high-efficiency filter.
  • Vacuum around your vents and registers to remove dust buildup.
  • Inspect your ductwork for leaks or damage.
  • Clean your coils and blower wheel as needed.

Test your unit’s refrigerant levels.

As the weather cools down, your home’s heating and cooling systems have to work harder. Give it a little help by making sure the refrigerant levels are topped off. This will help your system run more efficiently and prevent any potential breakdowns. 

For many systems, it’s pretty simple to do this. Check the pressure gauge on the side of the compressor. If it’s in the red, you’re low on refrigerant and need to add some. If your heating and cooling unit doesn’t have a built-in gauge, you can buy an electronic leak detector at the hardware store.

Don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, or don’t have a pressure gauge? You can always call a professional heating and cooling technician at ACE Plumbing, Electric, Heating, and Air to do it for you.

Drain outdoor condensate lines.

Cleaning and draining your outdoor condensate lines will help prevent any water from freezing and damaging your system during the colder winter months. And yes, even here in the South Carolina Upstate, the winter weather gets cold enough to do real damage if you don’t take precautions.

Here’s how to perform this task:

  • Turn off your air conditioner.
  • Find the line and remove the cap with your hands.
  • Check for any visible debris in the lines. 
  • Carefully remove anything you find.
  • Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into the line.
  • Wait 30 minutes. 
  • Turn your air conditioner back on.

This simple, homemade system will work if it’s part of a regular maintenance routine. However, if you have never before drained and cleaned your condensate lines, you may need to call in a professional to do the job. 

Lubricate moving parts.

Lubricate any moving parts in your system. Not only will this help reduce wear and tear on the system, but it will also make it run more quietly.

With regular checkups and maintenance — both DIY and professional — your heating and cooling unit should keep your home comfortable year-round for a long time. 

Need help with your heating and cooling system? Ace is here to help. 

Ace Plumbing, Electric, Heating & Air company is a family-owned and run company in and around Easley, SC. Our experienced professionals are always available to help you with any repair or installation needs. We’re here to help you keep your home’s heating and cooling system running safely and smoothly, so don’t hesitate to give us a call today at (864) 210-5814 or submit a contact form here.