As the holiday season ends and winter really sets in, chances are you’ll be spending a lot more time in your home. Cozy sweaters, warm blankets, and flickering fires are some of the greatest comforts of winter. But, a huge part of keeping your home as cozy and comfortable as can be is taking care of your heating system this winter.
And there’s more to taking care of your heating system than staying warm; it’s how you can stay safe too. It’s often overlooked that winter exposure to cold temperatures, even indoors can lead to life-threatening health problems.
If you’re thinking your home is never going to be cold enough to hurt you, unexpected winter storms combined with poorly maintained HVAC systems can lead to more trouble than you might think.
For the safest, warmest, and most comfortable winter yet, read on for the most common winter heating problems and how to prevent them.
With dropping temperatures and icy weather, pipes and coils can freeze over. Frozen pipes can lead to flooding and expensive property damage. And heating systems like hot water heaters and steam radiators can fail when pipes freeze, leading to a cold and uncomfortable home.
To avoid this common winter heating system issue, use caulk or insulation to seal up any holes around areas where pipes run through walls or floors. For pipes that are in areas like your attic or basement, use extra insulation.
It’s also helpful to keep interior doors open. Often pipes are located in cabinets, so when temperatures drop drastically, it can help to keep your cabinet doors open to allow for heat to circulate.
And when you’re leaving town, don’t completely shut off the heat. We know you want to save on heating bills, but shutting off your heat when you go away can lead to even higher costs from pipes freezing. Set the temperature to around 55 degrees to keep your home warm enough to prevent freezing, but cool enough that you won’t end up with a massive energy bill. For added safety, you can turn off the main water supply too.
Uneven Air Flow and Inconsistent Temperatures
Walking from one room into another and finding that the temperature is completely different can be so irritating. But unfortunately, it’s a common heating system problem in the winter.
Uneven air flow might be completely unrelated to your HVAC system. It could be that you just have draft problems, which can easily be fixed by sealing up any problem areas, like doors and windows or by replacing damaged insulation.
But, if you’ve already taken care of insulation when you completed your fall home maintenance checklist, it might be time to change your air filters. Filters remove dust, dirt, pollen, microbes, and other particles from your HVAC system, so keeping them clean is a big part of keeping your home comfortable year round.
If changing your filter doesn’t do the trick, then your inconsistent temperatures could be the result of improperly sized ductwork, leaky ductwork, or poor HVAC installation. For these problems, your best bet is having a trusted HVAC expert check out your heating system so you can stay warm through the coldest winter nights.
Malfunctioning Heat Pumps
Similar to the adverse effect of icy weather on your pipes, winter can be a hard time for the outdoor components of your heating system. For a heat pump to work effectively, fans and coils need to be free of icy blockages.
Most systems have an automated defrost setting to take care of this, but if yours isn’t working you’ll need to defrost manually and have an HVAC technician take a look at the automatic defrost feature.
Your thermostat is your best friend during the winter, letting you adjust the heat until it’s just right. That is unless it starts seeming inaccurate or not working correctly. Many common issues lead to thermostat malfunctions like low or dead batteries, faulty wiring, or the need for calibration.
If your thermostat issue is low or dead batteries, then the fix is simple, and you can take care of it yourself. But if you have wiring or calibration problems, then you’ll need one of our expert HVAC technicians to lend a helping hand. And scheduling consistent HVAC maintenance can help prevent this problem from recurring in the future.
Faulty Pilot Light
Another common issue with heating systems in the winter is when your pilot light keeps going off or won’t shut off at all. The most common cause for this issue is a dirty or damaged flame sensor, and fixing or cleaning it is definitely not a DIY task. Gas lines can be dangerous so stay safe by having an HVAC pro clean or replace your flame sensor for you.
Carbon Monoxide Leaks
As fuel burning activity increases during the cold winter months, the chances of deadly carbon monoxide leaks increase. A faulty, old, poorly installed, or poorly maintained HVAC system is one of the main culprits of carbon monoxide leaks, so to avoid this problem you want to stay on top of your HVAC maintenance.
If your carbon monoxide monitor does go off, get all people and animals out of your home immediately and stay out until all is clear.
Staying Safe and Warm this Winter with AirXperts
It can get cold in West Virginia during the winter, so if you need any help with these heating system problems, let the local HVAC experts at AirXperts help keep your home and family safe and warm. Contact us today for all your winter heating system maintenance, and all your HVAC needs year round.