Top 7 home heating maintenance tips
With winter fast approaching, you will want to make sure that your heating system is in perfect condition. Even if you have a contract with one of the most popular home warranty companies, you need to make sure that you perform all the routine maintenance tasks, or else you will not get coverage. You can take care of most of the little things on your own but if you find that extensive repairs need to be done, you will need to contact a professional. To help you avoid any excessive repair bills, we have prepared our top 7 home heating maintenance tips. We will go over everything you need to know to keep your heating system working as it should.
Why is maintenance so important?
Your heating systems play an important role in your home. They are the ones that will keep you warm in the winter and provide respite from its chill. Therefore, maintaining them needs to be very high on your priority list. Furthermore, there are additional reasons why you might want to perform routine maintenance, such as:
- Energy savings
- Air quality
- Home warranty
Aside from your heating system, you will also want to check a few select parts of your home for any issues. For example, if you have a home warranty roof leak coverage, you need to make sure that you do your part in maintaining the roof. This will allow you to get the most out of your home warranty (more on that in a bit), and ensure that you will not encounter any debilitating repair bills.
Our home heating maintenance tips will help with that. But before that, let’s “drive home” why regular maintenance is so important, starting with:
If you neglect your heating system you are inevitably going to encounter higher energy costs. This is due to the fact that a system that has not been maintained properly needs to work harder to heat the air. Ideally, you will want to hire a qualified technician for this part, but you can do some maintenance on your own.
For example, you can search for any loose connections and tighten them, perhaps clean or change the air filter, and test the system’s controls. One of the very common mistakes that homebuyers make is that they never even check their heating system. They simply expect it to work without any maintenance. But the fact of the matter is that moving parts need to be lubricated, the ductwork and airflow need to be checked from time to time, the thermostat needs to be calibrated, etc.
By performing all these tasks (or having someone perform them for you), you will ensure that your heating system works as it should. And that means that it will use up as little energy as possible.
As your heating system works, it accumulates various loose particles over time. These particles might include some dangerous substances, such as mold, mildew, and bacteria. Not to mention normal things such as dust and pollen. While your heating system is operating at its normal capacity, you don’t have to worry about any of those as they will be filtered out. But once the air filters are clogged, air quality gets compromised. Air quality can also come into question when some parts of the system get dirty.
Low indoor air quality can cause significant problems. For example, anyone who has asthma, allergies, or any other respiratory issue may suffer from it. Unfortunately, ensuring that air quality is optimal usually requires professional assistance. You may need to weigh the pros and cons of extending your home warranty if you want to make sure that you have access to reliable, cheap, professional services when you need them.
Another reason why you may want to hire a professional is the fact that heating systems usually produce heat by means of burning fuel. This means that any leak can be extremely dangerous. On your own, you might not be able to spot the leak. Carbon monoxide detectors help, of course, but it may so happen that once they pick up the damage has already been done.
Heating system lifespan
Perhaps the most important reason for heating system maintenance is prolonging the lifespan of the system. The dirtier the system becomes, the more “stress” it endures. After several years without maintenance, the system itself may break down. Repairing a broken HVAC system can cost upwards of $10,000! By performing routine maintenance, you can ensure that your system works far longer than normal. If you want to know more about maintaining your heating system, refer to our HVAC maintenance guide but we will also have a few home heating maintenance tips for you shortly. Bottom line is, you want to make sure to spot any minor problems before they become major ones.
Maintenance and home warranty
Purchasing a home warranty for your heating system is a very smart idea. It will allow you to sleep easily, knowing that you will not have to deal with exorbitant repair costs. In fact, heating systems are usually one of the primary reasons why you need a home warranty plan in the first place, due to an extremely high repair cost. However, to get anything out of your home warranty, you need to perform routine maintenance. What you need to do is check the warranty contract and see what routine maintenance entails. The terms differ from one home warranty company to another. Some companies might require you to only perform inspection and cleaning while others may require additional tasks. Either way, you want to do everything that is expected of you to benefit from the warranty.
Now that you know why proper maintenance is important, let’s see what you can do to make it easier.
Top seven home heating maintenance tips
While there is a lot you can do when it comes to maintaining your heating systems, we tried to focus on the “essentials”. With that in mind, here are the top 7 tips:
- Don’t overwork your heating system
- Clean and replace filters as necessary
- Check the thermostat
- Keep any outside units clean
- Clean the internal vents
- Schedule a tune-up for the heat pump
- Lubricate oil ports
Another tip that concerns your heating system has to do with retrofitting. While not exactly maintenance, retrofitting can provide you with a way to utilize the latest technologies without the need for a full replacement. Of course, this is not something that you can do on your own, nor is it something that a home warranty usually covers. You should still explore what does a home warranty cover, though, as it might provide you with information about future system maintenance. Sometimes, you may be even able to get a full replacement and retrofit your heating system that way.
That said, let’s dive into our home heating maintenance tips.
Overworking the heating system (and why it is bad)
Most of the time, your heating system will have to compensate for other problems in your home. Leaking doors and windows are prime examples of why a heating system works harder than it needs to. That is why you might want to prioritize your spring home maintenance checklist, where you will check for any leaking parts of your home. The more outside air that is getting inside, the harder your heating system needs to work.
Overworking the heating system can have serious consequences, from higher energy bills to complete system breakdown. While you can hire an HVAC professional for an energy audit, it is quite possible to check for any air leaks on your own. You can simply hold a candle to any door or window frame to see whether there is any air that is coming through them. Most of the time, you will be able to rectify the problem by simply applying foam strips. Doing so will both protect your heating system and save you a lot of money in the long run.
Cleaning/Replacing the filters
One of the most basic heating system maintenance tasks is cleaning and replacing the filters on a regular basis. Ideally, you should check the air filters once every month and replace them every three months. By doing so, not only will you improve the air quality but you will make the heating system run more efficiently. If you happen to have a boiler or an oil-based furnace, you will want to replace the oil filter at least once a year.
Most of the time, filter replacement is something that you can do on your own. However, some complex heating systems may require a professional touch. Luckily, one of the benefits of home warranty plans is that they usually include a clause where you can get filter replacement services at a cheaper rate. While you may be able to replace even the most complicated filters, this is not advisable as you might void your warranty.
Checking the thermostat
One of the easiest ways to check for any problems in your heating system is to simply check the thermostat. Here’s what you need to do: Twice a year, in the fall and in the spring, turn the thermostat all the way up. Keep it that way for a while and check whether the furnace is kicking in. If the furnace is running for the entire duration, the system is working properly. It does not necessarily mean that it is working optimally, but that is what the other home heating maintenance tips are for. If the furnace happens to turn itself off after a few minutes or less, that indicates a problem in your heating system. Most of the time, this happens due to “short cycling” but it can happen due to other reasons as well. Either way, you should call a professional to take a look at it.
If you have a home warranty, this service is going to be cheap. Provided that you are current on your other maintenance tasks, of course.
Keeping outside units clean
It is rather easy to focus on indoor maintenance alone. Many people do not even know that their heating system comes with an outdoor unit. What you need to do is inspect any outside units that you have and remove any leaves or other debris from the fans. If you are doing this in wintertime, you may also need to remove any accumulated snow.
Ideally, you will want to perform this task before the heating season begins in earnest. Even small leaves and random debris can really take a toll on your heating system. The sooner you clean the outdoor units, the better.
Cleaning the internal vents
Each room in your home has a designated air vent. These vents have a tendency to get clogged with hair, dust, and dirt, and can make your furnace work twice as hard to maintain the desired temperature. What you need to do is clear these vents before you start the system. Again, this is something that you want to do prior to the heating season and not when you actually need to heat the home.
Scheduling a tune-up for the heat pump
You are going to need a professional for this one. Heat pump tuning is something that you will want to do twice a year, as it will protect the heat pump from excessive wear and tear and allow it to work with peak efficiency. The best times for a heat pump tune-up are in spring and fall. You can get by with only a single tune-up, right before the heating season but that depends on where you live and whether you are using the heating system off-season.
Lubricating oil ports
If you happen to have an old HVAC system, you will want to lubricate the oil ports at least once a year. By doing so, you will improve the shaft efficiency and allow the system to generate more heat.
We hope that our home heating maintenance tips helped you ensure that your heating system is running at its optimal capacity. If you need any other information about home maintenance or home warranties, you can find it all in the Consumer Opinion Guide. Our knowledge database is there to provide you with all the information you might require!