Winterize your HVAC for optimum performance, comfort

After a house, the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system (HVAC) is likely the second largest investment homeowners make. Some advance planning can protect your HVAC during the upcoming frigid weather and ensure your home stays warm all winter.

Tom Eppers, co-owner, Dowe & Wagner, an HVAC company serving residential and commercial customers in Illinois and Wisconsin, recommends annual furnace inspections, which can catch many equipment problems early. He explains that extreme weather impacts the heating system: the colder it is outside, the harder and longer the furnace has to work inside. A faulty furnace won’t be able to keep up with that extra energy demand, while a well-maintained unit can.

Older furnaces may struggle more in freezing temperatures, working overtime to keep producing heat. As a safeguard, most furnaces are equipped with a “limit switch,” which automatically shuts the furnace off when it’s malfunctioning, to avoid fires or other dangerous conditions. However, if that limit switch is broken, the furnace will keep struggling to work, which can be hazardous. Not only can the furnace over-heat and melt its internal components, but a whole house fire is possible.

Another proactive step to keep your HVAC running well all winter, is to clear away any snow and ice that may collect around the outside unit and air intakes. Eppers doesn’t recommend covering the unit, but advises eliminating any build-up of snow around the unit and vents. Break off any nearby icicles, so sharp objects can’t damage the unit.

To de-stress your furnace on extremely cold days, experts recommend turning down the house temperature a few degrees when no one is home, or at night when everyone’s sleeping. Eppers suggests installing a programmable thermostat which adjusts temperatures automatically, giving the furnace rest breaks that homeowners won’t detect. Using less energy throughout the day will also cost less, leading to a lower utility bill.

Dowe & Wagner : 11215 Commercial Street, Richmond, IL 60071 : 815.678.3000 : http://doweandwagner.com/