Top 8 steps to follow when preparing your heater for service and what should NOT be DIY!

When it comes to making sure your heater is ready for the colder months ahead, there are a few simple things you can check yourself, but several more key steps that require a professional.

At One Hour Heating and Air, we want you to feel empowered to check your own system before automatically calling us, so here is a checklist of the 8 most common maintenance and troubleshooting steps you can use ahead of our visit to your home.

1. Check your thermostat: Place your thermostat in heat mode and set the desired temperature a couple degrees above the current room temperature. This should cause your furnace to start up. You will hear it come on throughout the house and soon feel warm air blowing through the vents. If nothing happens, you can remove the thermostat cover to check that the wiring is strong and secure. If the wiring looks good, it could be the furnace fan, heat pump or blower. It is also a good time now to call One Hour Heating and Air.

2. Change your air filters: This is also a pretty easy DIY step. Those large square grills (or grates) throughout your home cover your HVAC system’s air filters. With little more than a simple toggle in most cases, these grills open and you can easily replace the dirty air filter inside. Ideally, changing them every few months is best, but many homeowners set bi-annual or annual anniversaries to do so. What’s important is that the filters aren’t left to get so full that they lose their ability to keep the air your family breaths clean and safe, nor that it interferes with efficient operation.

3. Put it in the trash can (so to speak): Skip this checklist item if you own a heat pump, because your unit operates all year long. If it is NOT a heat pump, your condenser will sit idle in the cold months. You will want to protect this outdoor unit from weather hazards like falling icicles, snow and ice from freezing rain. A large trash can lid strapped securely over the fan will provide a good level of protection in winter. Resist the urge to strap a tarp over the entire unit, as that traps in moisture and leads to a whole other host of problems besides frozen water damage.

4. Carbon monoxide detectors and your chimney: If you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home (and we highly recommend that you do), they should come with a small test button or instructions on how to ensure they are working properly, much like you might test the batteries in your smoke detectors annually. The root of carbon monoxide poisoning in many cases is the chimney. If you’re not afraid of a little dirt and ash, or perhaps even a set of eyes peering back at you, feel free to check your chimney for any obstructions. One Hour Heating and Air technicians are always standing by and ready to do that dirty job for you.

As we round the far corner into the final four steps of this checklist, these items tend to be better left in the hands of a professional from the start.

5. Test the igniter switch: This could mean relighting the pilot flame on an older system and we understand many customers are not comfortable doing this task. One Hour Heating professionals are happy to handle that for you. Newer systems have electronic ignitors and come with a reset button if they are not working. If the reset button doesn’t work, check the breaker in your electrical panel. If you are still dead in the water, the experts at One Hour HVAC can help, depending on where the problem lies.

6. Clean the heat exchanger: This step requires a vigorous, but careful, brushing and vacuuming each year. The unit needs to be shut off when the cleaning is performed. During this time, the unit needs to be inspected for cracks which could lead to a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Since improperly brushing or vacuuming of the unit could damage components and lead to more expensive repairs, we recommend this only be done by a skilled professional.