5 Common HVAC Problems During Winter
As the temperatures continue to drop, winter can take its toll on many areas of your home including your heating system. In some cases, an impacted HVAC system may become less efficient, make strange noises or even stop working altogether.
Given this, you should be aware of the most common problems that your HVAC system may incur during the winter months.
As snow builds up outside of your home, it is common for the water in your HVAC system to freeze. This is especially common if the heating system is not operating regularly. Notably, frozen pipes are usually seen in boiler systems that create steam with water.
If you don’t notice and try to use your system with frozen pipes, the pipes may actually burst. Unfortunately, replacing the burst pipes will cost you a significant sum of money. Therefore, it is important to inspect your pipes during the coldest days of the year. If you notice that your pipes have become frozen, you should turn off the water supply to your house and get in touch with an HVAC technician that can fix the problem. Keeping a routine HVAC maintenance schedule will also help prevent this situation from occurring.
Dirty Air Filters
During the winter months, your heating system is in constant use, this means there is more dust, allergens and dirt being caught in your filter. Over time, dirt, dust, and other debris can cause a build-up on your filter and clog them up. Clogged filters can reduce airflow in your home and make your home colder during the winter.
To solve this problem, your filters should be replaced every 6-8 weeks or as suggested by the manufacturer.
Are some rooms warmer than others in your home? Does it seem as if the temperatures in your home are always fluctuating? Foremost, you have to inspect the sealing of your doors and windows as drafts can cause uneven temperatures. But, if this doesn’t solve the problem, your HVAC system may be the culprit.
In this case, the vents and ducts must be inspected by a professional, again you can prevent future issues by having a technician complete regular HVAC maintenance.
Carbon Monoxide Leaks
If your furnace is faulty or broken, carbon monoxide in your home may be a concern. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is odorless; hence, you may not perceive it until it starts wreaking havoc in your home. Nausea, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, etc. are some of the effects of carbon monoxide leaks.
Luckily, routine HVAC maintenance can prevent this from happening as the professional will detect the problem before it starts. Also, consider installing carbon monoxide detectors in different areas of your home for early detection.
Faulty or Malfunctioning Thermostat
Thermostats are meant for regulating your heating system, but when they have issues, your HVAC system can run properly. So, it is crucial to clean and calibrate your thermostat whenever your heating system is misbehaving. If the thermostat is acting up, replace it with a smart thermostat.
Other common issues associated with winter include substantial heat loss and faulty or malfunctioning pilot lights. With this knowledge, you now have a better understanding of what can go wrong with your HVAC system during the winter and why you should not hesitate to schedule routine HVAC maintenance for your home.
Winter HVAC Maintenance Tips
It’s not unusual to hear homeowners complain about their HVAC system during the winter. This is when they need it the most, and if it isn’t working properly, it can cause more issues than just some slight inconveniences. The route of many of these HVAC problems is that there is no investment in maintaining the system throughout the year. Without proper HVAC maintenance, your heating system will eventually surprise you with issues that will lead to discomfort in your home.
Below we will discuss some essential winter HVAC maintenance tips that can make your home more comfortable this winter.
Clean and replace the air filter
After using the air filter for an extended period, it will likely become clogged with dirt, dust, and debris. A clogged air filter makes it difficult for your furnace to work appropriately. It can also cause your energy bills to increase as your HVAC system becomes less energy-efficient and needs to work harder to force air through the system. It is crucial to replace your air filter prior to the start of winter and every 6 weeks roughly throughout winter.
Clean the air vents
Cleaning the air vents is another essential HVAC maintenance tip for the winter. As you clean the vents, the indoor air quality of your home will improve. In addition, the cleaning ensures that the air vents are not blocked; thus, making the indoor temperatures more even and comfortable. It is a must to have your HVAC ducts and vents cleaned at least every 2 years.
Take care of your thermostat
A faulty thermostat will make it difficult for you to regulate your HVAC system, as a result of this, the system will not work efficiently. Therefore, you should take care of your thermostat during the winter.
Firstly, you need to check the batteries. Replace old batteries with fresh ones and secondly, set the thermostat to a level that is comfortable for winter. You should also consider adjusting the thermostat according to your needs. For instance, if no one is at home, you don’t have to turn up the thermostat.
Invest in a programmable thermostat
If you don’t want to waste time turning your thermostat up and down, you should get a programmable thermostat. Simply put, a programmable thermostat is a thermostat that can be adjusted to work based on the specific needs of a living area. This thermostat will save you the stress of adjusting your thermostat every time you leave or come home.
Insulate your home
Although insulation is not a part of the heating system, it can aid HVAC maintenance. This is because the insulation will affect the heating and cooling of your home. Consequently, it will influence how to use your HVAC system during winter.
Schedule professional inspection
Even if you take care of your heating system regularly, you will still need a professional inspection. This is because you may not notice some potential problems that will be easily detected by an HVAC specialist. Given this, you should look for an experienced HVAC technician around you and schedule a professional inspection.
The best way to ensure your HVAC system is going to keep you nice and warm during the winter months is with routine, preventative HVAC maintenance. Don’t get left in the cold this winter, have your system inspected by a professional HVAC technician.
What To Do If Your HVAC Suddenly Stops During This Winter
Undoubtedly, winter is one of the times that you need your heating system the most. This is because the system produces the heat you need to cope with the extreme cold of the season. So, if your heating system suddenly stops working, it will have an excruciating effect on your household.
In this undesirable situation, you should not panic as this can lead to some oversights. You just need to follow the HVAC maintenance and repair tips below to deal with such a problem.
Troubleshoot the problem
Unfortunately, lots of things can cause your HVAC system to stop working in winter. So, it may be a bit of a struggle to pinpoint the exact problem. Overall, the possible causes of the problem may include:
- A clogged filter
- A faulty condenser
- A blown filter
- A tripped circuit breaker
- A faulty or broken pilot light
- Fan failures
- An emergency shutoff
To deal with this, you need to first troubleshoot the potential issues. This means that you need to diagnose the possible issues and solve them. Troubleshooting can be done by:
Checking the pilot light or electronic ignitions
If your furnace has a pilot light, the system will not work at all if the pilot light has gone off. Some models of furnaces use an electronic ignition instead of a pilot light, therefore, you should check the pilot light or electronic ignition to ascertain whether it is working properly or not. Sometimes, the thermocouple could be faulty or broken. In other cases, clogged orifice, low flame setting, or broken safety valve may be the issue. Also, you can reset the ignition control of your electronic ignition to try and solve the issue.
Checking the wirings
If your HVAC system itself is okay but the wiring is faulty, the system can stop working. To deal with this, you should first turn off the main power source and then check the wirings. In case you have noticed an issue with the wirings, it is time you called an HVAC maintenance specialist or electrician.
Ascertaining the airflow
Your HVAC system may stop working if the airflow is blocked. So, you should check whether something is blocking the warm airflow. If there is a blockage, try and clear it and the system may start working again.
Checking the air filters
If the air filters are blocked by dust and other debris, the efficiency of your heating system will be severely reduced. In rare situations, the system may stop working altogether. So, you should check the air filters to determine if you need to replace them.
Opening the vents and heat registers
In some cases, the heat registers and vents may have been closed. As a result of this, your HVAC system may not work properly. So, check whether the heat registers and vents are fully open.
Changing the thermostat settings
The thermostat settings can also influence the functioning of your heating system. You may need to change the settings for the system for it to work properly again. Make sure the “heat setting” is on and the fan setting is set to “auto” or “on”.
Call an HVAC technician
If the above troubleshooting does not solve your issue, you should call on the assistance of an HVAC technician. Apart from making your heating system work again, the technician can also schedule routine HVAC maintenance to ensure your system is always working when you need it.