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Heating Maintenance Guide for Homeowners in Virginia

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Winters in Virginia can be harsh, with high winds, sub-freezing temperatures, and snow or ice storms. Protecting your home from the outside elements begins with ensuring that your heating system runs at peak performance. Your system needs to be reliable and consistent so that you get warm air flowing through your house during the coldest winter months. 

If your system is producing less-than-desirable results, it may be time to schedule heating maintenance and follow it up with ongoing care of your system. Whether you have a furnace, heat pump, or mini-split ductless system, you need to schedule annual professional heating maintenance during the fall season. Read our heating maintenance guide below to learn how to take care of your heating system.

Know Your Heating System

The first step in heating maintenance is understanding how your system works. There are four main types of home heating systems 

  • HVAC: HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It is an all-encompassing acronym for the entire air system in your home. It often includes cooling, heating, and ventilation equipment under the same system.
  • Furnace: Many homeowners own a standard electric or gas furnace. The furnace produces heat with an element. A blower distributes the heat into air ducts. The air exits the ducts through the vents and into each room.
  • Heat Pump: The primary function of a heat pump is to transfer cold air outside into warm air inside using a heat exchanger. Heat pumps are highly resilient and dependable. They are usually located outside, above, or below ground. 
  • MIni-Split Ductless AC: A mini-split AC has two units, one outside and one inside. The outside unit acts as a heat pump, channeling air to the inside unit, which conditions the air and distributes it into the room. Ductless systems are ideal for warming single rooms or smaller areas. 

Follow These Heating Maintenance Tips

Tip #1: Schedule Routine Professional Heating Maintenance

Regardless of the type of heating system you have in your home, the equipment requires routine maintenance and care. Experts recommend annual maintenance during the fall season. 

What does professional heating maintenance include? Although maintenance varies per system or HVAC company, you should expect the HVAC technician to check, clean, or fix the following items in your HVAC.

  • Check air ducts for blockage or leaks
  • Inspect the blower
  • Heat exchanger assessment
  • Inspect air intake for blockage
  • Clean the blower
  • Perform amp-draw test on blower
  • Lubricate all moving parts
  • Check burner for proper ignition
  • Test proper electrical connections
  • Check for flue obstructions
  • Calibrate thermostat
  • Test safety controls
  • Test startup cycle
  • Check belts for signs of wear
  • Replace air filters
  • Analyze combustion gas
  • Examine thermocouple
  • Test gas pressure

Note: Some HVAC companies in Virginia offer an HVAC Maintenance Plan that includes many of the tasks above. A maintenance plan can save you money, prevent or delay HVAC repairs, and ensure that your HVAC system runs as it should when you need it most.

Tip #2: Keep Your HVAC System Clean

Dust, dirt, pollutants, chemicals, and contaminants circulate through your house, creating an unhealthy home environment. In addition to affecting your health, dirty air negatively impacts on your HVAC system. Dirt collects in the motor, blower, air ducts, gas chambers, thermostat, and connections. Over time, dirt buildup causes wear on your heating system’s components. 

One of the simplest ways to keep the system working well is to clean the parts. Many technicians recommend that you dust, vacuum, or clean the parts two to three times a year. A professional HVAC company can also perform a comprehensive cleaning once a year. 

Which heating system parts should you keep clean?

  • Air filter
  • Burner
  • Heat exchanger
  • Blower
  • Blower motor  bearings and belts
  • Drain pans
  • Air ducts
  • Combustion chamber

Note: Cleaning the air ducts in your home is a highly specialized job. It can also be dangerous. Instead of attempting a DIY air duct cleaning, schedule professional air duct cleaning from an HVAC company in Virginia. You are more likely to get desired results without damaging the ductwork.

Tip #3: Change the Air Filter Regularly

Every residential HVAC system uses a filter to remove impurities that are present in the air so it doesn’t blow them back into the indoor spaces and contribute to indoor air pollution. The filter also prevents particles from damaging the system. Without a filter, you leave your unit exposed to dust and debris that impairs the AC system and leads to costly repairs.

A dirty filter restricts the air flow into your HVAC system’s air handler. Restricted airflow places additional strain on the air handler fan motor and could burn out the motor and cause your system to overheat and ultimately fail.

So, it is important to replace your HVAC air filter regularly. How often do you need to change the filter? HVAC technicians recommend replacing the HVAC air filter at least once every 90 days. Each heating system is different. Check your manufacturer owner manual to find out how often you should change the filter for the system in your home. 

Tip #4: Address Heating System Problems Immediately

Heating problems never go away. In most cases, the problem worsens over time. The longer you wait to address the problem, the more expensive it becomes. A simple part repair can turn into a complex part replacement. Many heating system problems compound, leading to other problems over time. 

How do you know if your heating system has a problem? Be aware of these common symptoms:

  • The heating system will not turn on.
  • The furnace does not ignite.
  • Limited airflow from the air vents.
  • The thermostat does not control the heating system.
  • The furnace produces cold air.
  • There is a burning smell from the furnace
  • The heating system has short cycles.

If you observe any of these issues, contact an HVAC company to perform a heating system repair. The sooner you address the problem, the less expensive it will be. You are also likely to avoid a heating system replacement.

Schedule HVAC Maintenance in Virginia

Keep your heating system running smoothly through winter by scheduling Cardinal Plumbing, Heating & Air maintenance. We offer professional HVAC services in Virginia. Contact us today for an in-home assessment and get an estimate.

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