For many people, fall is a welcome relief from the blistering summer heat. However, it is important to prepare for this seasonal change with the appropriate maintenance of your HVAC system. Fall weather can make extensive demands on your HVAC system. While things may seem as simple as scaling back the air conditioner and gradually firing up the furnace, failure to perform seasonal maintenance can result in an HVAC emergency. Review the best practices for keeping your HVAC system in great working order.

Fall HVAC Maintenance Checklist – Air Conditioning

Scheduling AC maintenance during autumn can help you avoid unpleasant surprises when you turn the appliance on full-blast next spring. In addition, handling AC issues early can also help you avoid the peak season rush that occurs during spring and summer. A professional HVAC technician can help you with some of the following tasks and inspections to keep your whole system healthy.

Clean Drain Lines and Pans

HVAC maintenance includes checking all drain lines for blockage. This can help you avoid the buildup of pressure that can lead to leaks or dripping messes when you turn the AC back on during the spring. An HVAC technician can also check all pans or hidden crevices for standing water. While it is normal for evaporated moisture to eventually collect in the pans, leaving standing water throughout the fall season can increase the likelihood of mold and mildew. Standing water can also attract insects and vermin interested in breeding, so it is best to handle it through maintenance as quickly as possible.

Clean the Coils

Another part of AC maintenance is the removal of buildup from coils. There are two types of coils in an AC unit: evaporator coils and condenser coils. Evaporator coils absorb heat and humidity from the air indoors. Condenser coils then take this transferred heat and expel it outside. After an air conditioner has been working hard all summer, it is normal for grime to accumulate on the coils. This buildup eventually causes the unit to lose efficiency.

Check Refrigerant Charge

Trained HVAC technicians can also inspect your refrigerant charge. A low refrigerant charge often indicates a leak within the system. Allowing a technician to correct these leaks well in advance can ensure that your unit is ready to work during the next hot day.

Examine Belts and Pulleys

While belts and pulleys are quite durable, they can eventually wear down with time. Worn-out pulleys that sit idle throughout the fall and winter can break when your system starts up again in the spring. Contact an HVAC technician to replace any old belts or pulleys so there is one less thing to worry about when the season changes.

Inspect All Ductwork

When fall arrives, your ductwork has likely accumulated moisture from months of operation during heat and humidity. Moisture trapped in ductwork can encourage the growth of mold, algae, and other biological contaminants. These contaminants can exacerbate fall allergies or even contribute to ailments like sick-building syndrome (SBS). Therefore, it is important to hire an HVAC inspector to clean or repair ductwork as needed.

Fall HVAC Maintenance Checklist – Heating

The heating component of your HVAC system is a top priority for maintenance during the fall. Checking your heating during this season will help ensure peak performance during the coldest months. According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HVAC contractors are busiest during the summer and winter seasons. This makes fall an excellent time to complete your checkup before the winter season rush.

Change Furnace Air Filters

One of the most crucial parts of HVAC maintenance is to replace furnace air filters. Dirty filters make your heating system less efficient, leading to higher utility bills and excessive strain as the heater works harder to keep the house warm. If the filters fail to work, the excess dust and particles can clog your burners and other important parts of your heating system. An HVAC professional can replace filters with the most effective models to keep particles or contaminants at bay.

Check All Fuel Components

Furnaces with gas or oil connections could constitute a safety hazard if they malfunction. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger can lead to increased energy costs or system failure. Inform your technician of whether you use gas, wood, or oil to customize inspections to match your fuel. A technician may need to adjust the flame height or check the gas line if you use a natural gas system. It is best to have an HVAC technician perform a fall tune-up as well as check oil filters, gaskets, and pump strainer to screen for any contaminants or burner issues.

Calibrate Thermostats

An inaccurate thermostat reading means that you are less likely to get adequate heating. Check your thermostat settings to ensure that the temperature keeps the household warm while occupants are home. This can also save energy while everyone is away. You can also talk to a technician about installing a smart thermostat that allows you to set the correct temperature remotely from your smartphone or app.

Check Heater Motors

The motor is the central component of your heating system. Over time, however, fans can become covered in grime and the motor can operate sluggishly due to dust and debris. On the other hand, dry motors with no lubrication can cause friction that increases the amount of electricity you use. An HVAC technician can inspect, clean, and properly lubricate your motor to prevent any issues. The technician can also replace faulty parts or the motor itself if it has blown out.

Inspect Electrical Parts

It is essential to inspect all electrical connections and measure voltage and current within your heating motor. The failure of a single essential wire or electrode can reduce the lifespan of your hardware. In the worst scenarios, poor connections can also cause an electric fire. Fortunately, a home services company can correct faulty connections before they pose a safety hazard to your family.

Check Operation of Limit Switch

In most heating systems, the limit switch is a safety feature that turns off the burner if it gets too hot. The limit switch can also turn off the blower once the temperature drops again. Sometimes the limit switch malfunctions or stops working with age, so a technician can help you repair or replace this key heating feature.

Check Duct Insulation

Duct insulation can wear down over time. When this happens, heated air can leak from the ductwork before it ever reaches the rooms where you need it most. This can lead to higher utility bills and causes the system to work harder to keep your household warm. Contact an HVAC company to properly seal ductwork early in the fall.

Test or Replace Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Since it is time to turn on the furnace, it is important to test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning may be higher than you think. For example, a blocked furnace flue could result in severe back-drafting that increases your exposure to carbon monoxide gas. An HVAC technician can help ensure the right safeguards are in place.

Check Air Registers

Fall is also an important time to check and clean all supply vents, return vents, and registers. If grilles are dirty, HVAC professionals have the right equipment to remove particles and obstructions to improve airflow. Never try to block air registers yourself since this can create a pressure imbalance within your heating system.

Check for Boiler Leaks

Boilers are large appliances that use fluid to heat your home. Unfortunately, boilers can sometimes leak due to corrosion, water pressure problems, poor installation, weak sealing, or old age. If you notice liquid around your boiler, call an HVAC company immediately for assistance.

Clean Around Outdoor Vents and Units

Outdoor maintenance is critical during the fall. Autumn leaves, sticks, and debris can accumulate around outdoor units and interfere with the heating system. Experts recommend keeping at least 2 feet of clear space around any outdoor components of HVAC units. Similarly, it is also important to check all outdoor vents, flues, or chimneys. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), over 52,000 home fires occur each year as the direct result of a failure to clean household components like chimneys. A skilled technician has the right equipment to reach even the toughest outdoor spaces and keep your home safe.

Contact Us Today

Fall is the perfect season for a complete HVAC maintenance checkup. HB Home Service Team offers heating and cooling services that range from air conditioner maintenance to furnace installation and repair. Located in Randallstown, MD, we serve Central Maryland and the surrounding areas. Contact HB Home Service Team for all your autumn season HVAC needs.

HB Home Service Team

company icon