Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall, winter and HVAC

Well we are officially in the early stages of winter.  We set the clocks back 1 hour and most of us got a little more sleep.  We woke up to a bit colder temps but watched as the day got warmer.  This time a year always brings mixed emotions for me.  I love to see the different colors of the leaves, and watch how some of the wildlife begin to get more active during the day.  Nature is truly at is majesty this time of year and it makes for a peaceful evening around the fire pit in your back yard trying to drain every last moment you can get out of the day.  It does come with its challenges though,  how do you dress for days like these and how do you dress your children.  You want them to be warm in the morning but if you layer them to much then they are overly hot in the afternoon.  Well enough of my ramblings and on to how this crazy weather effects your HVAC system.

Well just as your body goes through the ups and downs with the temps this time a year, your HVAC system goes through the same issues.  Does it need to be on, does it need to shut off?  These are all common things that your system will experience this time of year.  It cycles on and off a lot during these days and nights and if you have a thermostat that does auto change over between heat and cool it is switching back and forth numerous times during these crazy days.  This type of operation can have grave affects on your HVAC system if it is not properly maintained and serviced. 

Servicing your HVAC system on a regular bases is very critical to its life expectancy and to its effective operation.  Having a regular maintenance agreement with your HVAC service provider is critical and can also help with the prevention of a major breakdown which could save you thousands of dollars in repair cost.  I have spent a lot of time taking to people about the advantages of getting a maintenance contract for your HVAC system.  The number one complaint that I get from consumers is that they don't want to buy it because it is like a warranty from Best Buy and you pay a lot for it and never use it.  This could not be farther from the truth!  I always counter them with do you change the oil in your car on a regular basis, do you tune up your car after so many miles?  Well your HVAC system is a lot like your car and much different from your stove.  See we in the HVAC industry have done a very poor job of promoting preventive maintenance to residential homeowners over the last 20 years, this in turn has allowed the consumer to begin to think of their HVAC systems are mere appliances and they do not pay them any attention until they break!  This way of thinking falls strictly on us as industry pros, but maintaining your system is a lot like maintaining your car.  Your HVAC system plays a vital role in families home comfort so it only makes sense to keep it operating at peak performance. 

Here is what you would typically get from an HVAC company for a 1 year maintenance agreement:

Fall you get your furnace checked out and cleaned to make sure that your furnace or heat pump is working properly and safely for your need for the winter.  They may or may not replace the filter for you as included in the price but at worst case they will tell you it needs replaced and give you a cost for replacing it.  If there are any other repairs needed they will give you the recommended repairs and the cost for making those repairs.  They will run test your furnace or heat pump for you and make sure that it runs and cycles off properly and comes back on as demand calls for.  Once complete they will go over everything that they have done and will let you know how your system is holding up and make any recommendations for replacement or additions at this time.  Total time should be 1-1 1/2 hours from start to finish barring any repairs needing to be done.

Spring you get your a/c checked and cleaned, they will them check the refrigerant charge in your system and make sure that it is at the proper operating pressures.  They will then check your filter and see if it needs to be changed, once again this may or may not be covered in your agreement.  The technician will then make sure the system cycles on and off properly based on demand.  Upon completion the tech will make any recommendations for replacement or addition and go over all work that they have done.  Total time should be 1 1/2- 2 hours. 

Remember that when you are getting cost for maintenance agreements from contractors that they are all doing the same things before you decided on one! 

I hope this helps you understand why it is so critical for you to have regular maintenance done on your HVAC system!  Just our 2 cents worth!